From a pattern perspective is there a difference? Or are they really different names for the same thing?

5 Answers 5


Sliders and Carousels effectively they mean the same thing: while perhaps factually different at one time, they are conflated to such a degree today that you couldn't effectively communicate one meaning or the other without being misunderstood. 1) A quick Google survey of jquery "sliders" and "carousels" shows many variations of the same thing: people are using these terms interchangeably as a means to display a "gallery" of photos. 2) The developers in my office respond to the question with "tomayto tomahto."

In the case of Galleries, these are the overall collections of images presented via carousels & sliders. Galleries tend to be presented in grids and lists.

I don't disagree with Andrew's usage (slider=horiz/vert, carousel=rotating focus), per se, but if you want to use terminology that will ensure you are not misunderstood, you might just call everything a carousel, and specify what sort of navigation it uses: filmstrip, slider (although I would avoid that), prev/next or stop/play buttons, dots, etc.

I attach some sketches to illustrate examples of what I mean:

Galleries Carousels & Sliders

Remember, everything we're talking about is born from from the physical analog of real photographs and slides. In the old days presentation slides were shown using a carousel slide projector.

  • 3
    love the fact you drew and attached these. they are really good sketches :) Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 22:36
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    Thanks, @AndrewDavis. I expect I will use this drawing around the office, too, just to make sure we're all talking about the same thing. We also use a term "marquee" to denote a carousel appearing in the featured spot on a page. After all, there can be more than one on a page.
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 22:42
  • haha at least make a colored vector version in indesign! Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 22:55
  • I'm a product manager. We use Sharpies. :)
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 23:12
  • haha sharpies... I'm a designer/freelancer and i break a lot of other designers' ettiquete. Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 23:15

A slider and carousel are NOT the same thing. A slider slides the images horizontally or vertically (usually horizontally) usually with a momentum effect.

A carousel rotates the images radially and in a 3D feel by using distance and depth of field. They rotate on an axis where the image is always facing you.

A gallery is usually where all images are available to see... but that doesn't mean a slider or carousel can't show all the images either. A gallery is also the umbrella term for anything that shows images... or the name of the page where you see the images. Usually completely filled galleries will be styled in a matrix layout.

The content and inclusion of all or featured images is up to the designer of the application in mind (site, app, etc)

  • I am inclined to agree with your nomenclature, but then, the opposite is arguably true. For example, a single view of an image is what I often call a "slide view" while the multi-image view looks the most like a carousel. While it does slide in many cases, it doesn't have to. Also, I might also call a horizontal array of thumbnails a filmstrip, strip, or shelf.
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 22:45
  • fair enough! not only can we consider that but the fact that either a slider or carousel could be used as a selection method in thumbnail view for a large frame of the selected picture. Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 22:54
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    …and those thumbnails are a subset of the gallery, which is not the same thing, of course. :)
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 23:11
  • yes. exactly, tajmo Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 23:33
  • I like your definition, but people use the words as synonyms, even when your definition is much nicer.
    – allo
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 9:35
  1. Gallery - A selection of things displayed usually in a either a Pintrest type way or as a series that you step through.

  2. Carousel - is a revolving selection of things that are either automatic or user input driven or at a fair ground.

  3. Slider - is a control element usually seen in things like music/video apps (seek bar) or as a volume control that a user drags or selects at an arbitrary point. Sliders are useful for allowing a user to tweak values in an intuitive way.

Over time there has been overlap of the terminology which appears to have come from the animation used in popular carousels (the slide left/right).

  • While slider/carousel have become conflated like @TajMoore stated, I think if you're doing any UI work today you should make the distinction this answer. A "slider" is very much a legitimate UI element and has nothing to do with galleries/carousels.
    – GHOST-34
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 1:35

The clear distinction between "slider" and "carousel" lies on the user experience that both deliver, which define the context of both words:

  1. Slider --> a knob or lever that is moved horizontally or vertically to control a variable.
  2. Carousel --> a merry-go-round.

Personally, I would opt to address, articulate and deliver them "distinctively"! I would stick to Andrew's perspective! ;o)


I am a newbie, and wading my ways through all of this. I like all the answers.

I think, we are trying to put every thing into one box.

I am thinking, off the page here.

I am going to offer "Galleries" & "Albums" (forgive the naming convention I have chosen).

The galleries being static, however users my select a particular image, and view it or copy it etcetera.

The albums being browsing type interfaces, slider bars style, not carousel, and not filmstrips, previewers and blah blah blah.

This should be less intensive for download speeds, easy to find what you looking for if you are looking for a particular item, and easy on mobiles.

Ohhhh and two types of browsing.

Only my thoughts. warm regards

  • 1
    Thanks for contributing to ux.stackexchange.com. There are some already good answers to this question here. Maybe you can change your answer to elaborate on what other differences are there between slider, gallery and carousel. Right now it is more a collection of thoughts.
    – Nash
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 8:13

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