Both of these terms describe the display of images, videos, or other content to make slideshow that’s manual or automatic. The difference is that a slider displays one slide at a time. A carousel allows viewers to see multiple slides at once. Both options are slightly different but they have many benefits for a website when implementing them properly.
Design and user experience differences
Sliders and carousels may have certain similarities but they are different in terms of how viewers interact with them.
An image slider contains about five images and typically shows one website image at a time. Images may advance automatically or manually. Viewers can navigate from one image to another. They can usually click on an image that catches their interest and go to a linked post or page for more information.
A carousel usually offers about nine or ten images in rotation with about three or four images displaying at the same time. It may display various types of content automatically at a specific motion and speed. Alternatively, viewers can navigate a manual carousel and go at their own speed. They don’t see just one website image but multiple images on the screen at a time.
When using an image slider or carousel it is important to do so in a way that enhances the user experience (UX). This includes everything from how content moves to the way viewers navigate through it. A successful design makes a good, strong visual impression and must have an intuitive user interface (UI). User interaction includes:
- Context-appropriate fonts.
- Use of colors that match the brand colors.
- Visually distinctive CTA buttons that match the brand colors.
- Design that matches the brand image.
- Good quality photo uploads that are brand-appropriate.
It is essential for both sliders and carousels to offer good UX and UI. The difference in how viewers interact with them relates mainly to the way they see the images. With a slider images move horizontally or vertically whereas viewers see one at a time. With a carousel images rotate and viewers see more than one image at a time.
Pros and Cons of Sliders
Sliders can have the following disadvantages.
- Autoplay sliders can irritate viewers and potentially affect their buying journey. It is better to give viewers control of the speed and pace of a slider. Autoplay can also lengthen page load times and affect website performance.
- People often have what is called ‘banner blindness’ which can make them ignore sliders if they look like a banner or advert.
- With the use of an image slider, the first slide will usually outperform the other slides. If a slider is too fast, viewers find it frustrating to focus on a particular slide. If the pace is too slow, a viewer may not interact with the slider or even realize that there are more slides before they leave a page. A single website image can often work better than a slider.
- Finding a tiny left or right arrow can be tricky on smaller mobile phone screens.
The advantages of using sliders include:
- Sliders can effectively display products/services. Users can view them at their own pace or choose to skip them if it’s not what they are looking for.
- Sliders can save space and make the organization of images more effective.
- Viewers can easily navigate between photos. Mobile phone users can swipe to the left or right to view photos.
- With responsive design, sliders will automatically adapt to smaller screen sizes.
- When businesses make slideshows they can add a visible CTA to encourage viewers to take action.
Pros and Cons of Carousels
Carousels are widely in use and if they are well-executed they can attract and inform viewers. They can capture attention, promote products and services, and support main content. Whether a business sells apparel, food, or electronics, a carousel can help showcase these products in an impactful way.
Here are some of the disadvantages of using carousels.
- Businesses can overuse carousels because they are so easy to implement. Too many different carousels can become distracting.
- If a carousel goes too fast it can cause viewers to bounce. Imagine it as an actual carousel in the fairground going so quickly that people fall off. If you want to use autoplay, it’s best to make sure your carousel moves slowly.
- Viewers may have difficulty finding a way to navigate a manual carousel. This can take many forms such as hollow circles, numbers, or thumbnails of carousel images.
- If the first couple of pictures do not create engagement, there is little chance that a viewer will look at all the images in the carousel.
- If a carousel does not have an easy way to navigate and get back to the beginning, this can be a real problem.
- Finding high-quality images to display in a carousel can be difficult. It may be necessary to use a free photo upload or two from an image download website such as Pixabay or Unsplash. The problem with this is that other websites may use the same images. Images must be of good quality to showcase products or services.
- Carousels can be difficult for people with motor skill issues to use which affects accessibility.
Advantages of using carousels include:
- Carousel design can be interactive and allow viewers to take control of the user experience.
- Carousels are great for showcasing products or items in sequential order, such as meal menus that are hard to capture with a single website image.
- Carousels can display a CTA that prompts the viewer to take an action such as clicking to learn more about a product or service, filling in a form, or making a purchase.
Choosing the right option for your website
An image slider can provide a great way to make a website more interactive and improve usability. An aesthetically appealing and interactive website can help to keep users browsing and increase click-through rates and sales.
A carousel is a good option for many e-commerce stores. E-commerce carousels will have CTAs so viewers can make purchases. Alternatively, they can display various product options with links to further information. A clothing retailer may use a carousel to display their latest deals so users can browse through different options quickly. Amazon uses carousels with site promotions at the top of the website page.
AirBnB uses dozens of carousels effectively on its website. The site has many users with different intentions and carousels make information accessible to all in a minimalistic way.
A carousel on a landing page can highlight customer reviews or testimonials about products or services. This can help to increase trust and influence customers to buy.
Create amazing sliders or carousels
An image hosting website isn’t hard to find and there are many available. Cincopa is a multimedia platform that’s much more than an image hosting website. It enables businesses to create amazing sliders and carousels.
- Templates: Cincopa has a vast number of gallery templates businesses can use to make a slideshow, image sliders, galleries, etc. They can choose a template, do a photo upload, and then easily embed the gallery on the business website.
- Photo upload: Cincopa supports many types of photo uploads. Users can choose the most convenient upload method when adding media to a Cincopa account. For example, they can upload images to an assets gallery, an existing gallery, or a new gallery.
- High level of customization: With the high level of customization Cincopa offers, it is possible to avoid the pitfalls of clumsy carousel design. It is easy to drag and drop a photo upload into a template and customize the colors, fonts, etc. Businesses can customize even the smallest details of sliders or carousels to offer a great user experience.
- Responsive design: Cincopa has mobile-friendly templates that identify the device in use and automatically display the chosen template in a suitable layout. It offers automatic transcoding, conversions, and photo resizing so businesses don’t have to deal with these technical aspects.
- Embed codes: With SEO-friendly JSON-LD embed codes, businesses can easily embed sliders or carousels on their websites, increase traffic to them from search engines, and grow their audience.
- Security features: Businesses can safeguard embedded sliders or carousels with security features such as domain lock, right-click override, password protection, and encryption. Assets are protected from unauthorized viewing, downloading, and embedding.
- Advanced analytics: Businesses can see how viewers interact with sliders or carousels. Dashboards and heatmaps offer insights into viewer behavior that can help with making improvements to content.
Sliders and carousels can be visually appealing and help to attract customers and drive sales. However, it is important for businesses to only use them for meaningful and practical reasons. With Cincopa, users are able to create customized, responsive sliders and carousels that are easy to navigate and offer a great user experience.