Carousel Web Design Best Practices

Posted on February 21, 2023 | Updated on February 21, 2023

Carousels are a great way to highlight different pieces of content on your site. However, they can also be a source of frustration for users and deter them from visiting your site. The key to a successful carousel web design is to plan ahead by following some best practices.

Implementing these principles into your design will create a smooth experience for everyone. Let’s get started.

What Is a Carousel?

A carousel is also known as a slider. It’s an element of a website that simultaneously flips through more than one image or piece of content. Web designers often present this feature on a site to share featured products, important information or sales.

With that in mind, this website element can have numerous purposes and is a great way to share information quickly. You can also think of it as a presentation in a virtual setting. While implementing one correctly, a carousel can be memorable and impactful if it resonates with the audience genuinely.

Avoid Autoplay

Autoplay occurs when a user lands on the site, and the carousel’s content starts automatically flipping in the background. This feature can be useful for websites that have lots of multimedia content. Yet, it can also be distracting and cause users to click away from the page before they’ve had a chance to explore it.

If you use autoplay, consider giving the user full control over the speed and frequency. Allowing this will enhance the experience for users.

Otherwise, the carousel may be less attractive, and the viewer may miss out on the information you want them to digest. When this occurs, it can be confusing or frustrating for the user and can influence them to exit their buying journey. 

Therefore, it’s best to leave the carousel in users’ control.

Keep It Simple

As with any design, it’s best to keep it simple, clean and easy to understand. Carousels can either make or break your opportunity to engage your site visitors. An overly complex design can be confusing and a huge turnoff for viewers. 

So if you’re using slides with text on them, it helps to keep the text concise.

That way, your site visitors can consume information easily in the quickest manner. Another thing to keep in mind is the number of slides you have. Users may not have enough patience to sift through many slides, which can create a poor experience.

Instead, it would help if you kept it at a maximum of five slides.

The carousel should also be easy for users to navigate through. This will allow them to surf the carousel swiftly. Some of the most common types of navigation for carousel users include left and right arrows and dot-based.

The left and right arrows allow users to click on the next slide or move back. Dot-based navigation works similarly to the left and right arrows. However, they offer a more clean and minimal design in the carousel.

Make a Responsive Carousel Web Design

With a plethora of devices — from smartphones to tablets and laptops — your carousel’s design needs to be responsive accordingly. This means that the layout of your carousel should adapt to every screen size.

Remember that mobile users are limited to gestures such as tapping, swiping and pinching. Therefore, making your website carousels functional to these gestures is important.

For example, the carousel’s content should be small enough for a mobile screen. Meanwhile, a desktop version can display more than one slide horizontally.

Be Intentional With Your Carousels

It would help if you always had a plan for carousels before you start working on them. You’ll need to know what content you want to include, how many slides and what you want to accomplish in the end.

In carousel web designs, you should always save the best or most important content for the first slide. By leading with your strongest asset, you increase the chances of capturing your viewer’s attention and interaction with your content.

Even though your first slide will get the most attention, it helps to treat every slide with equal importance. Therefore, every slide you create should have a specific goal in mind. If it doesn’t deliver valuable information or enhance the user experience, it’s best to leave it out of the equation.

Create Only One Carousel Per Page

One of the most important carousel web design tips to keep in mind is not to overload your page with too many elements. One too many carousels — even if it’s just a static element — can require more processing power and slow your site down.

This problem can occur especially for people who use older, outdated devices and may have difficulty loading your entire site. If your site is slow, this may cause your visitors to look elsewhere for products or information.

Therefore, it’s best to keep it to one to two carousels per page, no matter the size of each one. Yet if you use an auto-play carousel, consider sticking to one so that it prevents any lagging issues.

Carousel Web Design Examples

Before crafting your own carousel web design, consider the following examples. They can help you understand the different approaches you can take and inspire you to create a versatile design.

Image Carousel

An image carousel is one of the most prolific types, as it can work for practically any website. With it being highly versatile, an image carousel makes a popular choice. 

These types of carousels are rotating banners that provide simple navigation and allow you to include important offers or information.

Testimonial Slider

A testimonial slider is great for those who are creating a landing page. They showcase stories from satisfied customers and allow businesses to build trust with their audience.

To make the most of the opportunity to draw users’ attention, consider making it engaging with micro-interactions. Some companies will display four testimonials they can navigate at the top of the page by clicking through tabs.

Hover Gallery

Hover galleries make a great option if you’re looking to enhance the interaction. You can replace the commonplace arrow navigation with a slide image that takes up the full width of the screen when hovering over it.

Hover galleries work especially well for those who want to display large images — ideal for photography sites.

3D Image Carousel

3D image carousels are also an excellent choice if you want to go with something bold and stylish. These types will guarantee to liven up your site’s design. All you need to do is add a few images and style them to your liking.

Card Slider

Card sliders can effectively showcase relevant pieces of information — allowing you to display various pieces of content for site visitors to sift through. While these are similar to image carousels, there are some differences. 

For instance, card sliders enable you to insert headings, call-to-action buttons and text. You can also display a product for customers to add to their online carts — offering a quicker way for users to shop.

Design a Carousel that Drives Engagement

Following these best practices is crucial if you use a carousel in your website design. Doing so will ensure you present your content in an effective and engaging way. That way, visitors will find what they’re looking for immediately, and you increase the likelihood of conversions.

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About The Author

Cooper Adwin is the Assistant Editor of Designerly Magazine. With several years of experience as a social media manager for a design company, Cooper particularly enjoys focusing on social and design news and topics that help brands create a seamless social media presence. Outside of Designerly, you can find Cooper playing D&D with friends or curled up with his cat and a good book.

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