Go to just about any eCommerce site and the homepage is nearly guaranteed to feature a carousel - an auto-rotating panel, usually with some sort of small navigation, usually highlighting new product releases, sales or offers.

Are there any studies out there that look into how effective carousels actually are in terms of conversions and as compared against other ways of displaying similar information? I have a hypothesis that they might be something of a UI cliche, partially supported by looking at click data from some of our own sites.

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    I would love to upvote some of these answers, but none of them have cited any sources.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 17:15
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    @Alex G and zzzzBov - The type of client you refer to often needs to witness first hand the implications of their requirements or stubbornness on the site that they are responsible for. Sources and citations that contradict the norm or go against what the 'competition do' hold little weight. To disregard what is seen to be the norm is usually quite uncomfortable for the person who's career is directly related to the success of a product or service. Of course in some situations a carousel is exactly the right means to deliver content and so we need to try and importantly test every situation. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:04
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    This is a carrousel explaining why the answer is no, and cites several examples. shouldiuseacarousel.com
    – user33560
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 21:37
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    This was published very recently: An Exploration Of Carousel Usage On Mobile E-Commerce Websites smashingmagazine.com/2015/02/09/… A good read if you ask me :)
    – Ziepe
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 16:05

16 Answers 16


Almost all of the testing I've managed has proven that content delivered via carousels are missed by most users. Few interact with them and many comment that they look like adverts — we've witnessed the banner blindness concept in full effect.

In terms of space saving and content promotion, a lot of competing messages get delivered in a single position that can lead to focus being lost.

I'm quite certain that they are indeed a user-interface cliché borne out of their inclusion in wire-framing apps and being part of JavaScript frameworks.

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    Thanks for your feedback, Adam. I always suspected they were born out of a mixture of easy implementation (jQuery) and clients still demanding that content be featured above the fold.
    – Alex G
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 14:38
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    I want to add that the data I have seen at my places of work came to the same conclusion.
    – jonshariat
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 19:55
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    Not many months ago all and every site proudly exhibited a tag cloud, remember? Now if you see one you guess that it's a seldom updated site. With carrousels it might happen the same, or not. We are in the process of finding out which is their possibly narrow application area. But indeed, much narrower than today.
    – Juan Lanus
    Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 23:06

Carousels are effective at being able to tell people in marketing/senior management that their latest idea is now on the home page.

They are next to useless for users and often "skipped" because they look like advertisements. Hence they are a good technique for getting useless information on a home page (see first sentence of this post).

In summary, use them to put content that users will ignore on your home page. Or, if you prefer, don't use them. Ever.

By the way, these views are not my own, but are based upon observing thousands of tests with users.

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    Haha, "scathing" is probably a good one word summary of your reply. Cheers, Lee. Agreed.
    – Alex G
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 14:51
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    I don't 100% agree with this. In many cases, the way the carousel is implemented can be ignored - but, there are markets and applications which are effective and not overlooked. Examples of sites/apps which have a high clickthrough: Hulu.com, BuildwithBMC.com, Apple's App Store... Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 17:50
  • I personally hated it on Hulu and never really paid attention to it unless the main or second article in it was interesting to me. By the time the second article was phasing in I was already on my way to my queue or browsing through their library. There's one up front in center on IGN that's rather huge, and unless the main article catches my attention I scroll down past it every time and consider it an advertisement more than news.
    – Mohgeroth
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 18:53
  • 9 years old and just as relevant today as it was back then. Early in my career, I often gave in pushed content to a carouse. Whomever was signing my cheque had some content that they'd stall the entire project over if it didn't go in, in spite of all research before (and metrics afterwards) showing nobody read. Carousels are for the page's owner, not its readers. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 12:49

As a user I find carousels faintly annoying:

  1. Most have usability fail which I fall into the categories described in this article:

    5 Big Usability Mistakes Designers Make on Carousels

  2. No ability to bookmark a particular item on the carousel, for example take a look at the BBC News photo carousel they use: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14619799 There's no way for me to bookmark the sixth item and send a link.

  3. Carousels that don't allow me to right click on an item and "open in new tab/page" - flash carousels

  4. Carousels that have unpredictable non-intuitive navigation such as rotating content for no good reason just because you moved your mouse over it.

  • Good points -- that BBC example is pretty grim. I realise this isn't answering the OP's question, but... Carousels are like scrollbars, only worse: you can't see how much content is available, you have to keep clicking to see more content (rather than dragging a slider), they all work slightly differently (and users struggle enough as it is, even with the most common and highly standardised interface elements) and all carousels seem to suffer glitches in terms of code and UI (the BBC Glow code has weird 'carousel-pad' items at the end of the carousel list, for example).
    – Sam Dutton
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 13:39
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    Your item #2 also applies to trying to direct a friend to the sixth paragraph of a news story.
    – Erics
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 6:27
  • #3 is really a Flash problem, not specifically related to whether you're using a carousel or not.
    – iconoclast
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 15:28
  • Your point 2 is something of a strawman: it's rare to be able to bookmark or link to the middle of a page that doesn't use carousels, too. As it happens, he BBC has stopped using carousels for image galleries (e.g., this one). But you still can't link to the middle. At least the carousel said "Image x of y" at the bottom so you could link to the page and tell somebody to skip to the xth image without having to scroll slowly through the gallery, counting Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 22:44

In all the testing I have done, home page carousels are completely ineffective.

For one, anything beyond the initial view has a huge decrease in visitor interaction. And two, the chances that the information being displayed in the carousel matches what the visitor is looking for is slim. So in that case the carousel becomes a very large banner that gets ignored. In test after test the first thing the visitor does when coming to a page with a large carousel is scroll right past it and start looking for triggers that will move them forward with their task.

The only exception I found was when testing around a holiday and the carousel spoke specifically to that holiday there was an increase in the amount of clicks a visitor had with the carousel.

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    Another exception I have found: Carousels used on an intranet we have found to be quite well used (purely from looking at analytics data). I assume this is because the user of an intranet doesn't dismiss them as an advert as they know the intranet has no ads.
    – benb
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 15:51

I do not use or suggest the use of carousels. The changing of images can distract users when they read text on the page.

You might find some interesting information at http://digitaleskimo.tumblr.com/post/752912498/image-carousel-appropriateness

https://blinkux.com/ideas/usability-highlights-2008-beyond does not dispute the use or causeless, but offers some tips in the "Avoid giving users a confusing ride on your carousel" section.

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    I'm going to give this post the bounty, even though it's an old post. This is because following the first link in your post led me to this: ojr.org/p1639 which is an actual study. Still not especially conclusive though, but interesting none-the-less.
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 15:12
  • Shame the screenshots and live examples are offline in that article you linked; a good read though, nonetheless, @JonW
    – kontur
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 8:20
  • Fixed @JonW's link thanks to Kathy E Gill on twitter Images are still broken but the article's titled "Taking a ride with carousels" and the text is all intact.
    – Zelda
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 13:35
  • @kontour The web never forgets: web.archive.org/web/20150226034702/http://www.ojr.org/p1639 -> including images
    – FrankL
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 10:26

Some research into Carousels usage on University of Notre Dame website has some interesting findings:

Approximately 1% of visitors click on a feature. There was a total of 28,928 clicks on features for this time period. The feature was manually "switched/rotated" a total of 315,665 times. Of these clicks, 84% were on stories in position 1 with the rest split fairly evenly between the other four (~4% each)... ("Feature" refers to the individual calls-to-action that are either manually or automatically rototated in and out of view.)

The article also discusses the difference between Static carousels (i.e. ones that require manual use to scroll) and Auto-forwarding Carousels. Surprisingly the Auto Forwarding ones recieve the highest usage (8.8% of visitors clicked on the carousel - 40% of those clicks were for the item on the first slide). However the article also references the Nielsen group article stating that auto-forwarding carousels are not a good user experience)

For Static carousels the average click rate was between 1.7 - 2.3%, again with the first item in the carousel recieving significantly higher selection (48-62%).

The main article source for this content is from weedygarden.net


We have built these for clients in the past with the main driving force being SEO. (Carousel images with text / links overlayed). They are a way to cram a lot of content onto the main homepage without looking like you are 'gaming' the search engines or keyword stuffing.

We do try to make them as efficient and usable as possible, but they are requested by the marketing people because they look 'modern' and provide the ability to increase the amount of copy on the homepage without bombarding the user with useless information.

They have also been used because different areas of the business don't want sites to give too much emphasis to 'X' product / service, so providing the master 'hero' image as a rotating image then various areas of the business can have their main product in the pride of place at the top of the homepage all at the same time.

So yes, in my experience they're primarily a marketing tool and not particulary built with the user in mind.

  • Eeek, looks like the evidence is adding up. It seems criminal that such prime page real estate is used to such ill effect.
    – Alex G
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 14:40
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    I'm happy someone finally mentioned the way carousels "look 'modern'". I have a theory that the way those big images look are definitely influencing people. That type of large, animated visual always tickles the emotions and leads people's guts to say "YES. That's great!" Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:31
  • I’m glad you mentioned the SEO aspect. That’s 100% of the reason I implemented it in the past, like around 2009/2010. Good tactic for getting good search engine action, but the click through rates don’t lie.
    – Dan Gayle
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 1:23

I think carousels can be effective as long as they give control to the user. That is, they can skip ahead, direct the flow, know where they are in the carousel, and turn off an auto-play function.

Here is more on this idea:



Here's an article that cites a couple semi-recent studies at Notre Dame and Nielsen/Norman. It might be relevant to the discussion.

To summarize:

  1. Arrows are distracting!
  2. Don’t use web carousels for showcasing products
  3. Do use web carousels to brand your site or offering
  4. Web carousels are not ideal for desktop websites
  5. Web carousels get very significant taps on mobile!
  6. Limit your mobile carousel to 4 panels
  7. Limit each panel to one product or image

(Note: I hate the things, but this article seems to have come to peace with them and talks about how to use them the best way, if you must use them.)

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    That article, while interesting, doesn't really add anything to the 'are they effective or not' debate. It's just an opinion piece on how and when to use them if you are going to (also lacking any real evidence as to why they're suggesting what they do). Interesting read though.
    – JonW
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 14:38

From my own experience in looking at the analytics data of sites I've created, I can say that most users don't interact with a carousel, much less convert from one.

I have noticed recently that a number of sites that used to have carousels no longer have them and are instead showing just one "panel" (if you look at the HTML, there's still remnants of a previous carousel in some cases). Microsoft is probably the most noteworthy example (http://www.microsoft.com/) another is BYU's site (http://home.byu.edu/home/). Google analytic's site (http://www.google.com/analytics/) I think used to have one but no longer do.

While that doesn't directly answer your question (others have already done that well), I think its interesting to note that large organizations like Microsoft (who I'm pretty confident look at and analyze conversion data) have decided to ditch the carousel, probably in favor of faster load times.

Interesting sidenote: I think NNG's website (http://www.nngroup.com/) provides a good alternative for a site that wants to get rid of a carousel/hero image altogether. I've seen tons of sites with the exact same layout except for a carousel between the company description and the three blocks with images. Note how on NNG's site, you don't really miss having a carousel between those two page elements. In fact it's better without.


Having designed a lot of ecommerce websites I would say that carousels are effective. Specifically in getting users to view more main promotions. They are fun for users to interact with and improve the likeliness promos will actually be read or make an impact.

I have used the free Professor Cloud javascript carousel successfully with features rotations as well. Just remember that everything doesn't need this functionality so use it sparingly or the rest of the content on your page will suffer.

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    Could you please be more specific in explaining how you measured the effectiveness of a carousel.
    – Denzo
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 1:13

Most carousels have pagination arrows and dots. Users aren't drawn to this. They're drawn to text labels.

Why Users Aren’t Clicking Your Home Page Carousel

To summarize:

Labels are informative, meaningful and describe what users want. Labeling each slide incentivizes them to click because the labels tell them what they’ll get. Users are more likely to click on something that looks informative to them.


I've also been struggling with the marketing team, that wanted on the one hand optimize the homepage load speed, and on the other - put a carousel with huge images "showcasing the amazing experience." And in this particular case it proved totally ineffective.

Here are some interesting finding on the topic: http://conversionxl.com/dont-use-automatic-image-sliders-or-carousels-ignore-the-fad/

In short - most conversion experts are against rotating banners and carousels and if you do need to take care on conversions, you'd better think of other options to "showcase experience" :)


I think the carousel has its use in e-commerce depending on the type (actually the size) of website that you deal with.

For example if you deal with a website that has the size of e-bay there should be a carousel there in order to announce deals, new products and other type of information that otherwise would not reach the final consumer. I guess there is a study on this too but it is common sense to channel the user to something unless you already know something about his browsing preferences (ex: the case when you use cookies or he already has an account).

On the other side if you deal with a website where you have a very small range of products, there is no need for carousel (example: http://www.hardgraft.com/) and it is more than obvious that one of these tools would definitely disturb users.

A good exercise would be for someone to imagine getting to target.com for the first time and not having a carusel ... where would he go, what would be the bounce rate for the homepage etc.

Also there are examples of carousels on homepage on very small websites (http://cleaneverything.com/) but in my opinion on this example the carusel is useless.

  • You've sort of outlined a theoretical business case for using a carousel (such as on ebay) "there should be a carousel there in order to announce deals..." but not the user case. If there is one on eBay and the like do users actually use them? Do they even notice them? Just because the business may want to put one on the site for whatever reason doesn't mean it's actually going to provide them any benefit.
    – JonW
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 11:49
  • I think the reason why large websites such as ebay have is some kind of testing like A/B testing in Google. I strongly believe that they use carousels not because they are big and always right but because they make big money and certainly know how to do it.
    – Mike
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 11:31
  • May be the "Big Blue" is not trying otherwise just because it's afraid of change. To put a bunch of data in a given space for a peroidic display just removes the attention of the user on something he actually wants to buy. So he's bombarded with info of products he might not even like.But then who can tell what the consumer likes, though it doesn't mean a throwing everything will somehow make him want something in the end. Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 17:55

I found out it's a big issue for accessibility as well. For example if the user only uses keyboard for input. If we are showing images it is pretty effective. Showing more data using carousal is not effective.

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    @Ren Thank you Ren!
    – Lasantha
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 22:13

Friends. Colleagues. Developers. A carousel can be highly effective.
Suppose your buyer is budget constrained and the bargains presented there are within their limit A carousel says "We're not sleeping" "We're still alive and kicking." "We're hep to the latest, greatest thing." "We've got great deals!" Otherwise, a carousel is a heavy data load, (Real estate vs. going out of your Intellectual property,) and hopefully has a balancing share of detractors.


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