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I'm working on a theme for a forum, and I'm trying to display the top 20 most recently updated topics in the sidebar. The problem is, a list of 20 items takes up a lot of space.

My solution was to use a scrolling marquee, but I was wondering how good the UX of a marquee is. If anyone could tell me any usability problems that marquees have, and/or their own personal experiences with marquees, that would be great.

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Scrolling text on the page makes it hard for me to read the main content. – Inca Jun 18 '11 at 19:33
up vote 22 down vote accepted

Being a large animated element usually placed in a prominent location on the website, marquees are extremely distracting for the users, until they become used to them and ignore them as they would a banner - at which point the marquee ceases to be harmful and becomes merely useless.

On the occasions when they are noticed, it's usually because some specific text caught the eye of the user. Then the text scrolls out of view before the user had a chance to finish reading, and the user needs to sit and wait an unknown amount of time for it to come back. Alternatively, you provide a manual scrolling mechanism for the marquee, turning it into a significant interactive element which requires its own controls and is gradually blown out of proportion.

The optimal speed of the scrolling is very subjective and varies greatly from user to user, so it will probably be frustratingly slow for some, and frustratingly fast for others.

In short, marquees don't have good UX :)

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I think the BBC's news site gets it about right:

It 'pulses' rather than scrolls.

I think this kind of approach works where the content is 'new and breaking', so it needs to be constantly new content.

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And so does – rightfold Jun 26 '11 at 20:17

I guess it depends exactly how you have implemented it. I was thinking something like the description below could work:

You have a panel and display the 5 latest topics in a list, then after x amount of time it scrolls up/down to display the next 5 and so on. I assume this would still count as a marquee instead of the traditional scrolling text left to right? Apologies If I have misunderstood.

Regards the UX they can drawn attention (good) or be distracting (bad) depending on the situation they are used in. from personal experience I think scrolling text needs to be considered in context, certainly too much of it can be overpowering.

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I suggest you use a rotator instead of marquee.

you can see some demos of Telerik rotator, which might help you decide about your own:

  1. Rotator / Live XML
  2. Rotator / Rotator Types
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