So what’s the deal with carousels? Why does everyone keep asking for them on their website?

The problem usually stems from the question: What goes on the homepage? When the answer is: Everything.

This results in a constant fight for attention where nobody wins.

Let’s dive into the facts…

Facts

Despite this, there are two great proponents of on-page Carousels, they are:

You may think that for image galleries, it’s different. The current design pattern for galleries is a “full-screen photo browsing experience” or lightbox, like Jetpack for Wordpress.

So, what about Lightboxes?

Lightboxes often introduce more user experience issues than they fix, especially on mobile.

It’s rare to find a good example of lightbox working well in the wild these days, other than those one that take over the whole page.

“Interactions that happen through modal dialogs or across modules/panels on large screens often make more sense as separate pages on smaller screens.” —Luke Wroblewski, September 1, 2011

Lightboxes don’t really work for small screens, using pages we’ll be linking to the content by default.

Still not convinced?

Performance

Not every carousel, gallery or slider is equal. You’ll likely want different ones to do different things and each time you’ll be adding in a new set of code to handle that situation.

I found an example of a site that had at least 8 different ones, including:

Loading all of these will reduce page load time, especially when they are used for image galleries.

Conclusion

The take away here is that if you’re asking whether you should use a carousel or not, the answer is probably no.

There’s much more creative ways to get your content seen without using a carousel.

Just take a look at this collection of inspirational websites using media queries and responsive web design and you’ll soon discover new ways to solve old problems.