For a media site with a lot of content (news/headlines) to display upfront, should the homepage carousel (each slide has an image associated with) rotate automatically or not? Are there any studies that support either answer? Thanks!


No. There is no way you can predict how long each user will want to look at each slide, control should be in the hands of the user and moving things are distracting.

Give control to the user and let them look if they are interested, make the contents interesting enough to entice them and provide obvious clues that there is more to look at.

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Yes and No.

Animating stuff does have a distraction effect. You may adjust the transition style to be smoother, but still, peripheral vision is sharper to detect moves.

So, why Yes?

  • Because the distraction effect may be what you're looking for. An animated carousel will allow user to understand obviously that there are several contents available. And you really want the user to notice that. Without movement, hidden content will remain hidden...

And why No?

  • Because animating stuff will distract users when they perform a task requiring concentration, such as looking for an information, or reading some article.
  • More, automatic movement may prevent full reading of the slide. So you have to specify an interaction to stop the automation. Such as pause on mouseover, and some visual feedback. Or a mini-navigation system.

So, finally

  • In my opinion, automatic carousel should only be used on pages where the users do not have to focus on a specific task, and where you want him/her to notice some specific information. And in any case, you have to propose a straight forward interaction to stop the movement.
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