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Im talking about the mini-slideshow many websites have on their front pages, where the slides change automatically, but the user can navigate by clicking on small circles below the slide.

Problems with this design:

  • You are in the middle of reading and the slide auto changes = annoying
  • If the user actually uses the circles to check out next slide/previous slide should the script still auto play? Seems to me once the user takes the wheel he should be in control
  • No auto playing at all may defeat the purpose of the whole slide thing. Will an indication on when the slide will change make the experience better or make the user feel uncomfortable?

Such a time indicator can be found on sap.com.

So what to do? Auto play slides? Time indicator? No slides at all? Is the idea to stop autoplaying once the user clicks a circle a good idea or are there potential drawbacks?

Pls share your wisdom on this topic.

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The better ones pause sliding on hover or click until mouse moves off the control. –  Marjan Venema Jan 30 '13 at 6:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I feel your pain! I say just don't use one :)

This article explains why sliders are a bad idea with great details and examples.

Basically:

  1. Their movement distracts users away from your content
  2. People glaze over things that look like banners
  3. They have terrible usability--as you mention, they always seem to move just as you're trying to read something!

More highlights...

Q: "What do we suggest in that place? Carousels are everywhere!"

A: "I suggest replacing it with all the content users are actually coming to the site for that gets pushed down by the carousel."

and

"Rotating banners are absolutely evil and should be removed immediately."

Jakon Nielsen and Luke Wroblweski don't like them, either, apparently.

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hmm interesting article indeed! Not sure if I can sell it to my client. Maybe ill replace it with something like skypes or amazons versions of a carousel, whith real descriptive navigation, which basically isnt even a slide show anymore. –  user1721135 Jan 30 '13 at 0:49
    
sounds like a plan! if you need to use a slider, making it not auto-advance is probably the way to go (like the Hilton example in the article) –  Sam Pierce Lolla Jan 30 '13 at 1:01

Auto-forwarding slideshows (AKA carousels) are problematic on many levels. Jakob Nielsen recently published a study that showed critical information is often missed when it's part of an auto-forwarded slideshow:

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/auto-forwarding/

Beyond that they're often filled with gratuitous items with low information content and people have learned this so often don't give them much attention, basically tuning them out like an ad.

But non-auto-playing slideshows have their uses, here're some good tips:

http://bradfrostweb.com/blog/post/carousels/

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thx for links. personally i really hate accordions. much more then carousells! –  user1721135 Jan 30 '13 at 10:27

From my perspective, I have no problems with a slider on auto when I first arrive on the site. The whole point of even having a slider is to quickly show major news/features of your site without forcing the user to search for it.

However, you are correct that the auto feature gets annoying if you are trying to read a specific slide. I've seen sliders with a visible pause button that stops the auto play. The user then can press the play button to continue the autoplay if needed.

Though, your idea to stop the slider when the user clicks on the thumbnails or next/previous button also would work. Most likely the user will only click on these buttons if they are interested in a specific slide anyways.

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