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I have here two wireframes for the homepage of an e-commerce website. The site has only 5 products so far but will have more so the design needs to allow for scaling.

I'm wondering which of these two wireframes would be more suitable.

UPDATE: People who want to answer this question should probably also know of this thread about sliders: Are carousels effective?

The first is a more classical layout including a product slideshow at the top.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The second wireframe features an intro-text first followed by a list of products, each product occupies the full width of the layout.

mockup

download bmml source

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How is your question different from the thread you mentioned? It will help people provide better answers than the current ones which are similar to the previous thread. –  rk. Apr 8 '13 at 14:56
    
It's set in a particular context. That's what makes it different. –  nimrod Apr 8 '13 at 16:19
    
do both. and have a toggle to switch between them. –  nathan hayfield Apr 8 '13 at 16:57
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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you want to show off products, it is better to show it as a list. Some reasons why the list is a better choice than a carousel:

  • If user wants to compare products, it is easier (compared to carousel) to scroll up and down and see what the differences are. They are controlling the scroll and not the script moving the image.

  • If a user wants to go through your entire products range, it is far easier to scroll through the list at their own pace rather than messing around with the carousel player.

  • You will be able to fit more content (for the most part) in a listed page than on a carousel (bigger carousels are possible, but can be slower and not smooth in interaction)

  • You mentioned that the client will be increasing their product range in the future. Right now, with 5 products carousel might be possible. But, with 10-15 or more products it will be a complete nightmare. It is better to design an effective list module than a carousel which cannot be expanded upon in the future.

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Since it is a featured products section there will never be an endless amount of products in the list, not to worry :) –  nimrod Apr 8 '13 at 16:17
    
Well, you did mention it in your question: 'The site has only 5 products so far but will have more so the design needs to allow for scaling' Anyways, it's not a question of endless amount, event 7-8 on a carousel is a problem. –  rk. Apr 8 '13 at 16:18
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Slideshows are nice to have on a homepage. It sets a mood, they're eye catching and if you can't decide on a single hero image you can have 5.

They're a poor method of delivering information however and best used only to give a taste of what's on offer. Just like powerpoint slideshows they're there to support the communication, not to be it. If you want to give an overview of the 5 products it's better to put them in a list. That would allow me as a visitor to browse them at my own pace, go from 1 to 5 with just a flick of the scrollwheel instead of having to deal with the controls (and animations) of the slideshow.

So, it won't be a bad idea to have a slideshow of your products on the homepage like layout 1, but then I'd expect to have a link to an overview page that looks more like layout 2. You can have both, yay!

If your list of products grows so much that it becomes impractical to list them all as in layout 2, opt for a more compact version of that layout or you could split them up in categories.

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I like the analogies! Since they are featured products I would not have a neverending list. –  nimrod Apr 8 '13 at 12:40
1  
What do you mean by 'setting a mood'? Your second paragraph is spot-on but I'm confused with your opening one as the two seem to contradict each other. –  JonW Apr 8 '13 at 12:45
    
What I meant was that slideshow-hero images are usually more for emotional effect (look at how happy these people are with our product) than for the transport of knowledge (our product is useful because it does A B and C). They can also set a techy mood (microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx), or a stylish fashion mood (supertrash.com/nl). Mood is probably the wrong word, but the supertrash slideshow would definitely look out of place on the microsoft site, which to me says it's doing something useful. –  Koen Lageveen Apr 8 '13 at 13:09
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Nielsen Norman Group published an article this year on auto-forwarding carousels, how they can reduce visibility and annoy users. I believe it would be worth reading in your case, because if you're going to put important information in a carousel, you will want to pay attention to details such as auto-forwarding.

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Thanks, more factual material is exactly what I need. –  nimrod Apr 8 '13 at 16:16
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There is already an excellent thread on the effectiveness of carousels.

In my experience I wouldn't recommend their use to display a products list; many users simply won't click them or be patient enough to look at them for more than a couple of seconds.

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I saw tbat thread, excellent indeed! It doesn't however go along with the context of my question. I should have put it into my question so thanks for mentioning it, other people who answer this question should really have read it. –  nimrod Apr 8 '13 at 12:36
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