Carousels have almost become ubiquitous. I am frequently asked about them when I start designing a site for a library. I often. now, make it clear that these don’t represent a good design choice.
Yes, they’re convenient. They seemingly solve the problem of how to fit all that “stuff” on the front page. They’re flashy and dynamic. And, of course, everyone else has one, right? However, convenience for the library has absolutely nothing to do with usability for visitors. Satisfying the political voices (e.g., The Terrible Territorial Librarians, which I have written of, previously) is, in this case, at odds with creating a good site.
Before I even start building the case, though, I want to be very clear that YES THERE IS A CAROUSEL ON THE HOMEPAGE OF THIS SITE. Is this the pot calling the kettle black? Well, probably sort of, and I won’t pretend it isn’t. But, let’s also be very clear here about the big difference between this site and a library’s website: mine is a personal blog. I can do whatever I want. Many (most?) of my readers don’t even see the homepage, anyway–they come here to see particular posts. This blog fulfills a personal purpose for me, and isn’t intended to necessarily convey important information directly on the homepage. The carousel is mostly a fun element for me, as far as I am concerned. A library has to be responsible to its users. Which means, good usability.
If you’re still contending that carousels are a good choice for something other than giving in to territorial staff, take a look at these:
And, even beyond all the usability information, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here. Honestly? Unless you have a design pro on staff, chances are good that the images in your actual carousel are going to be awful. I’ve seen pixelated, stretched out messes. I’ve seen things made in what looks like Paint or by someone who has no clue how to use a graphic design program. Or just things that look like there was no graphic talent available. At all. Even if carousels were a great idea for a site, who would want to look at something like that?
What do you think about carousels? Post in the comments.