Time to get off the carousel?

It might have been a fun ride, but audience feedback has taught us that there's a downside to displaying website content in a slideshow carousel.
Image by Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unsplash .

Summary: Remove or reformat slideshows to ensure your content is accessible for all audience members.

There was a time when just about every website had a slideshow (usually at the top of the homepage). Slideshows provided the opportunity to showcase multiple key messages to your audience. Or did they? As audience feedback shows, putting content in a slideshow doesn't mean users will see it.

Important content / low visibility

We know that viewers rarely see content beyond the first and second slides. What's more, the second slide only gets a quick glance. Most users move on before the third slide has time to appear.

High effort / low return

Teams often spend a lot of time preparing content for slideshows. The slideshow format can be demanding: the image must be the right size, shape, and quality; the text must contain all the key information but respect a certain length. When users skip past your slideshow, they miss your key messages - and they don't benefit from your hard work.

Accessibility barriers for persons with disabilities

Critically, some McGill community members are unable to access slideshow content at all. The WMS' slideshow tool was created before our current accessibility norms. It doesn't allow us to add alt text to images, which is key for audience members with low vision or who rely on screen readers. 

What to do when you exit the carousel

WMS site managers and editors should remove or reformat all slideshows. This will make your site more effective and accessible, and it may also save you time in the long run. To determine whether to remove or reformat this content, you should assess it's strategic importance. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Is the slideshow's content useful to my audience?
    • If so, a more visible and accessible format may be better. For example, a call to action block!
  • Are the messages in the slideshow relevant and strategic?
    • If so, consider communicating - and repeating - these messages in your site's main content.
  • Does your slideshow content even belong on your site?
    • Sometimes we use slideshows for friendly cross-promotion. But if your users don't see this content, why spend effort on it? Consider a simpler mechanism to link users to a sister site and its content.

This is an opportunity to customize your content to different audiences and needs. Instead of a one-size-fits-all slideshow, maybe the content would be more appropriate on different areas of your site (or on different sites)! For example, our old homepage had a slideshow with announcements for a variety of audiences - prospective students, current students, faculty and staff, and media contacts. The new homepage is more targeted. Announcements for prospective students continue to appear on the homepage, while messages for faculty, staff and media contacts are shared in channels that are most appropriate for these audience groups.

If you'd like help transitioning away from slideshows, swing by our WS-104 drop-in lab! Our Content Specialist will be happy to discuss possible solutions. You can also submit a request for a more in-depth Web Services Consultation. 

Related resources

Looking to reformat your slideshow content? Here are some alternate tools you might considering using.

Back to top