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I am trying to find evidence for or against automatically scrolling (animating) panel content. Please open this Axure prototype to see exactly what I am talking about.

http://share.axure.com/5287A1

auto-scrolling tiles images creenshot

The client wants it, we think it's a terrible idea but have not evidence against. Mr. Nielsen has already said something on the topic (1, 2). But I would like something more concrete.

Also does anyone have any examples of sites that do this automatic scrolling currently?

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+1 Personal opinion: hate scrolling/animated content with a vengeance. It is distracting to say the least. And a cop out for not wanting/being able to pick the real top featured and trending stories. –  Marjan Venema Oct 11 '12 at 5:57
    
I second that opinion. –  user117 Oct 11 '12 at 7:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

From an accessibility perspective, WCAG covers this as part of SC 2.2.2 which is a basic Level A guideline. Conformance requires that you allow a user to pause, stop, or hide it.

Content that moves or auto-updates can be a barrier to anyone who has trouble reading stationary text quickly as well as anyone who has trouble tracking moving objects. It can also cause problems for screen readers.

Moving content can also be a severe distraction for some people. Certain groups, particularly those with attention deficit disorders, find blinking content distracting, making it difficult for them to concentrate on other parts of the Web page.

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This is a really good quote! Thanks! –  JeroenEijkhof Oct 12 '12 at 18:03

There are a few good points from the article 5 Big Usability Mistakes Designers Make on Carousels, which could give insight to what problem there might be designing carousels:

  1. Auto-sliding after the user has already taken control
  2. Displaying new items in a row one at a time
  3. Showing item progress in a confusing way
  4. Infinite sliding
  5. Tiny click targets

If you've been on the web for +10 years, you should also know that moving content is a bad idea. The reason is advertisement who spend a lot of time making their ad as visible as possible through bright coloring, moving images, animations and all sorts of flashing thing. The only effect that had on users of the web where that they learned to avoid movement of any kind. It's probably not as valid today, but personally I don't use carousels for that reason - it looks like advertisement.

That said, you can use a carousel if you avoid the above mentioned design mistakes and implement a style that is coherent with the rest of you web page in terms of colors, shadings and fonts. And if your customers want it ('cause the competition got it) your probably in a bit of a trap. That's why you need to make your carousel better than competitor web site AND point it out to your customer. You'll get a useful carousel and a happy customer willing to pay the invoice.

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Tack för hjälpen Benny! (was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden :) ) It isn't really a carousel as much as it is a content panel much like Hulu.com has it right now where you give the user control to browse through the content. The client took this design pattern and asked for animations :( HEHE! –  JeroenEijkhof Oct 12 '12 at 18:06

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