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We are implementing a new homepage design at my company with a large hero image at the top of the page. Some people on the marketing and content side of things proposed changing the hero image twice a week. Our UX team was imagining changing it more like once every 3-4 months. We've been trying to find research/recommendations on this, but we're coming up empty. Does anyone have resources that they can point me to or research you've done yourself on this? Or in the absence of that, gut reactions?

(For reference, our website helps connect travelers with travel agents)

Edit: you can visit the page if you want more context

  • what is the purpose of your hero image? – Midas Apr 20 '16 at 20:53
  • I'm not sure I know exactly what you're asking. We intend the hero image to be of a location that has broad appeal as a travel destination, includes a person or people, and feels like an authentic experience (i.e., not stock) that you can picture yourself in. – Katelyn Apr 20 '16 at 21:21
  • I've updated my answer to reflect the additional info you provided. Hope this helps. – Monomeeth Apr 20 '16 at 23:27
  • I suspect if you were to ask the users (folks trying to book a trip/connect with an agent).... They could care less.. As such I would focus on changing less frequently and potentially based on seasons (e.g. Winter getaways to the beach) – scunliffe Apr 26 '16 at 12:23
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Always. Never. Anything in between.

This is a classic testing scenario, where the answer will depend on your testing and tracking results and nothing else. Opinions are a dime a dozen, hard data is a fact.

You can change a hero image (or any other image, copy, layout, colors and more as we're at it!) based on promotions, holidays, seasons, geo, cookies, referrer, whatever you may imagine.

Each change will have an effect on your metrics. Maybe you'll get more engagement and less sales, or a higher bouncing rate and a higher conversion rate. Either way, each site, each case and each scenario is different. For example: change your hero image and leave the copy intact: is it the same as before? Now do otherwise: leave hero image and change copy. What happens?

Now consider the stakeholders: who defines the goals? a CEO, a project manager, an UX designer, a marketing guy? While making more sales is usually the best answer, it's not always the case. However, those goals are the main part in the equation: depending on them, you'll be able to properly define the time frame used to change the hero image (or anything else) and with time you'll see patterns emerging

The point is: this question is impossible to answer, at least properly. However, you have the answer at your reach, and it will always be more accurate than anything we can tell you

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This really gets down to the purpose and audience of your hero images. Thankfully, Midas' question in the comments and your answer provides some insight and I feel that maybe you need to change the approach a little.

I'm assuming that your site is for a travel agency, tourist destination, or something similar. If it was me, I wouldn't use a single hero image that gets changed once a week, or month or every few months.

Instead I would use a variety of images and create a slideshow that just loops through them.

This way you could change the slideshow as required (to suit a change of season, a holiday period, etc). In other words, it's not changed at a set interval like weekly, monthly, etc. Instead you change the slideshow to suit the industry you're in. If Christmas is a busy period, then change the slideshow to suit. If Summer is a busy period, change it again. And for variety you can change it regularly for no particular reason too.

This ensures there is enough variety in the images to appeal to a broad spectrum of people. All you need to do is collect a library of images and decide how many you want per slideshow and how fast they loop through the images.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

EDIT

Okay, now that you provided a link, I'd like to add the following.

For starters I like the look of the site. Well done.

Because of the panoramic nature of your hero image and the way you have overlaid text, I agree that a slideshow or animated gif or anything that distracts the user from your text is not a good option.

However, my earlier comments regarding timeframe still stand. I wouldn't be restricted by a schedule as such. I would have a library of images ready and then rotate them through when appropriate based on what's going on at the time. This doesn't just mean a change of seasons or the occurrence of holidays, it may be an event. For example, the Soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games are events that attract tourists for a totally different reason.

So, in a nutshell, I would get the marketing people and other stakeholders together to decide what particular events (be it seasons, national holidays, sporting, etc) are typically drivers for people wanting to take holidays. That offers some reasoning behind how often you change the image, rather than some arbitrary schedule.

Otherwise it really just gets down to personal preference - albeit biased by whether you're a marketing person, a business owner, a UX advisor or whatever.

  • Hi Monomeeth. Thanks for your feedback! We would really like to avoid using a slideshow however due to the usability problems they pose. My question is a hard question to answer in general, especially without seeing our page. I'm going to edit my question and put a link to the page in. We'll feature other content lower on the page that would change like you indicated with seasons, holidays, etc. Let me know if that changes your thoughts at all. – Katelyn Apr 20 '16 at 22:27
  • That's fine, thanks. I may have to edit my answer anyway, as I should have clarified what I meant by slideshow - essentially an animated GIF image would suffice. I fully understand how auto-forwarding carousels and 'accordions' can annoy users and create a bad user experience. I look forward to checking out the site. – Monomeeth Apr 20 '16 at 22:48
  • Thanks for all your feedback! I think my favorite part of what you said is "decide what particular events are typically drivers for people wanting to take holidays"...I think this really hits on our underlying concern. We want to make sure there is a user-centered reason for changing the photo and that we're not just changing it to change it. – Katelyn Apr 21 '16 at 16:01

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