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For a slider-carousel - not a banner-looking one, but one that acts as a very functional tabbed navigation -, is there any advantages to having it loop infinitely?

In case it's not clear, there are two behaviours (that I can think of!) for carousels. Assuming one has 10 photos or elements:

1) Infinite: Carousel shows 5 elements at a time (1-5), clicking on the arrow button to the right loads 5 more (6-10), and clicking again shows the first 5 once more (1-5). You can keep clicking and you will always see results.

2) Lineal: Carousel only shows first set (1-5), clicking on arrow shows second set (6-10), but user can't click again as there is only 10 elements. Arrow button gets disabled and only option is to use the left arrow and go back to 1-5.

Is there an advantage to any of these two? As I said, in this particular case the carousel is a set of photos that open a box with different contents underneath it. It's a navigation element.

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Assuming the number is greater than what you can show at a given time i would favor infinite or a looping pattern.

However I would make sure to give them some contextual clue of the state of the system. Let them know that they are going to loop back around to the begining. I dislike carousels where I think haven't I seen that before and realized it was looping but I had no clue.

You can give them contextual clues in a variety of ways with the infinite looping design

  1. under each thumbnail show them the element number 4/20 or 5/30
  2. the next arrow can say loop back to first image when they are at the last slide (give them a clue they are repeating the loop).

Heres scenarios where I wouldnt loop

  • If the number of items is only 2 carousel lengths or less (you can only show the back or forward arrow so they know which way they can go
  • You have sort of an exponential scrolling feature of the mouse (i dont like this because some users dont use mice and prefer keyboard navigation)

Heres the advantages of the two

Infinite

  • See items over again and have an easier experience to get back to the first element
  • Eaiser to place adds mid way through and your users will keep clicking
  • Encourages users to view some content twice

Single Pass

  • Users are more likely to know when they have consumed all the content
  • Users are less likely to consume the content twice and they may go slower when viewing
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User need to know how many box he has.

You can implement something as infinite but with the number of box displayed under the carousel pictures. (or somewhere else)

The infinite approach will stay disruptive and if you have a certain amount of box, display them like they are : limited.

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  • I'm not sure I follow. You mean I should have a number or something that makes it clearer where in the "line" you are? I have a slider indicator that shows you where you are in a sort of timeline, so there is a visual clue. – Yisela Apr 22 '15 at 14:17
  • I mean that if you have 10 pictures in your carousel, since the #1 is openning box n°1 and the second picture, the box n°2... you should labelize those pictures with their n° or the box name maybe. The auto-come-back to start isn't an issue if user know where he is. – Yohann V. Apr 22 '15 at 14:21
  • That was my thought, that as long as you know where you are, it's an advantage because the user doesn't have to move the mouse to the other end of the screen to go back to 1-5. But I'm not certain :) – Yisela Apr 22 '15 at 14:23
  • I'm saying in short : infinite but labellized since they are part of the navigation – Yohann V. Apr 22 '15 at 14:25

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