Rotations of Death

nomanColleagues who have worked with me on website projects know that few things get me riled more than the demand for a rotation of some sort as a major element of a website home page. It’s especially frustrating when this demand comes on the heels of an extensive research and strategy process that does not call for the need for any such element.

So, I read with interest the recent post at Nielsen Norman Group about research on the use of “carousels.” Carousels are defined by the researchers as elements that allow multiple pieces of content to occupy a single, coveted space.

The summary of the post states: “This may placate corporate infighting, but on large- or small-view ports, people often scroll past carousels.” Amen.

In fairness, the Nielsen post does go on to offer suggestions for how to implement a tolerable carousel element. So, if you really, really must have one, here are some sound tips to follow:

  1. Include five or fewer items within the carousel. It can be taxing to swipe through many frames on a mobile device, and it’s difficult for users to recognize topics they have already viewed when a set exceeds about five.
  2. Use well tuned text and images that target your website goals.
  3. Offer navigation that shows how many items are present, and where the user is within the rotation.  Ensure that navigation controls appear inside the carousel, not below it or separated by a fold. If offering a navigation button for each frame (rather than arrows to scroll through), ensure that each button looks different, and represents the frame.
  4. Use icons and links that are understandable and recognizable.
  5. Make links and buttons large enough to click.

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