You’ve almost certainly visited a website and when you landed on the home page, you saw a prominent carousel of images that scrolled in from the side. Each slide stayed onscreen for a few seconds before a new one rotated in.
Many websites use this method to present users with multiple offers or products in an effort to persuade visitors to buy.
In almost every instance this has the opposite effect, and the slide show causes conversion rates to drop.
There are a few reasons for why this happens. Visitors come to the site with a specific intent in mind. They land on the page and as the images rotate in and out, the website visitors lose their initial focus as they process each new message.
Another reason that carousels cause conversion rates to drop is that many visitors see the slide shows and mistake them for banner advertisements. Their eyes skip past them. The upper part of a webpage that appears above the fold is valuable and the resulting “Banner blindness” impacts conversion rates across a variety of metrics such as purchase rate, average order value, and time on site.
If this practice is so harmful to conversion rates, why is it so widespread?
It’s mostly because carousels offer the illusion of “more space” above the fold. Designers like them because it makes it easier to incorporate more elements on the home page. Marketing teams like them because they can tell key executives that their ideas are incorporated on the home page of the company site.
A carousel, because it offers many options, alleviates the need to make a very difficult decision. It's the one message or offer that should appear to users when they land on the page, enticing them to become a customer.
If your website has a carousel, what can you do to fix it?
Use optimization software, such as Optimizely, that will allow you to split test your home page with the carousel. Sit down with your team and review the slide in the carousel you believe to be the most powerful and have your designer make a static image of it.
Test this static image against the carousel. The static image will almost certainly perform better, and now you have data to back up the importance of choosing a single image.
Removing a carousel from the home page is one of the easiest conversion rate optimization wins that you can implement. If your company is using one, make this one of your next optimization items to do and you’ll reap the rewards.
Photo by Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Keith Lovgren is Strategic Director at DataInclusion.com.