A Simpler Homepage Slideshow Alternative
Homepage Slideshows/Carousels have been a long time enemy of the UX community. They may seem innocent at first, but their many moving parts make them hard to get right. As a result of that, I’ve been advising Shopify Store owners to reduce their slideshows to just one static image. But there is a better design pattern that has the benefit of exposing multiple featured items.
I saw it mentioned in an article by The Baymard Institute titled “9 UX requirements for Designing a User-Friendly Homepage Carousel”. If you go through the list of requirements you’ll be able to spot a bad carousel implementation. (Maybe your Shopify theme already has one?) But, you don’t have to. Remember this: aside from major interaction usability problems, slideshows also slow down your website.
That’s why, what I like the most about the article is the proposed elegant alternative to the homepage slideshow:
That said, we’ve observed in testing a well-performing alternative to homepage carousels that’s technically vastly simpler, and which can be employed on both desktop and mobile sites. This alternative is to simply use static content sections scattered throughout the homepage in combination with featured categories.
By featured categories here they mean a link to a category, not a product listing from that category.
This static content sections design alternative relies on users simply vertically scrolling the webpage — a vastly simpler and much more ingrained web interaction than interacting with a site-specific carousel.
Therefore, before implementing a carousel on the homepage, consider whether it may be better to simply use static content sections — and avoid the headaches that can occur when trying to implement and maintain a homepage carousel perfectly. For most e-commerce sites choosing the static content sections and then spending the tech resources a carousel implementation would have required on other UX issues will be a better tradeoff.
You can see a visual example of “static content sections” here: “Deciding Whether Having a Homepage Carousel is Even the Right Choice” (a link to the first section of the article).
If you are also curious what makes carousels hard to use on desktop and mobile, I encourage you to read till the end.