How many images should be updated or rotated in on a slideshow carousel that features things like products or articles?

  • 1
    There is some research that shows that Carousels are not so effective (Don't use Automatic image sliders or Carousels) Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 9:12
  • haha Thanks Alexey. I've got a client asking for one. He just wants to know how many images he should use. But you make an excellent point. Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 9:34
  • I would second what @AlexeyPegov said. In every usability test I've done with carousels the people using the site have either not taken notice of them, disliked them, or not actually followed up on anything past the first image. Yet to see them work in a useful way. Don't know why people use 'em.
    – user597
    Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 10:48
  • Thanks Adrianh. So if you had very large rotating "lifestyle" images with headlines, it would be ignored? I'm reading people have banner-blindness to carousels. Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


Most people seem to agree on the common sense of a maximum around 5 images, but agree that less is better where possible. Jakob Neilsen suggests 5 because:

it’s unlikely users will engage with more than that. It can be taxing to swipe through many frames on a mobile device, and it’s difficult for users to recognize topics they have already viewed when a set exceeds about five. Limiting the number also helps with discovering the content, and finding the content in the carousel again later.



I found a similar question for mobile sites, which unfortunately also did not have a definitive answer:

How many photos should be in a slideshow for mobile on page load?

As I expected, the answer given for this question also indicates that the maximum number of slides should be as many as an average user would view at one time. I would expect this number to be about 4-6, but I couldn't find a specific number anywhere. This would probably require user testing as the content of the slides would greatly affect this. For example, slides with more text and information should be shown for longer (and I have seen many sites that do this terribly) and there should probably be less slides as it involves more effort on the user's part to view each one. A carousel with single images can scroll more quickly and therefore should include more, as a user will reach the end sooner.

In my searching, I also found this great resource that may be helpful for you as you are designing your carousel:


  • You're right about the 4-6 number since that fits with Miller's research on the size of untrained short-term memory.
    – MMacD
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 15:44

I think I read you should automatically load no more than three images. Don Norman or Jakob Nielsen made the suggestion, but I can't find the report again on their websites.

Edit: Why is this being down voted? Let me clarify. I can't find the report again on their websites. I was having a bad user experience. The answer is 3.

  • 5
    It's being downvoted because saying "The answer is X because Y said so" is a crappy answer. If you want to claim it reduces load time, say so. If you want to claim users won't stick around long enough to get past the first three images, say so. Appealing to a higher authority is just passing the buck -- you may as well claim Pi is 3 because the Bible says so. Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 4:46
  • Rachel, don't you think that's a bit unfair as a reason, though? (note that I'm not suggesting that you're wrong about it being the reason!) To cite people generally recognised as experts, as both Norman and Nielsen are, isn't really an Appeal to [empty] Authority. The authors of the bible had probably never even heard of pi, but Norman and Nielsen are actually experts in psychology, are well aware of the studies by Miller and others about short-term memory, and understand its practical implications.
    – MMacD
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 15:52

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