UI/UX Development Tip 7: The Effective Use of Slideshows

26 Apr. 22

“Real estate.” It’s valuable property.

It is limited space, but an important commodity. Real estate is a key design asset in web design.

Slideshows are a great way to make the most of your content.

This convention has been widely adopted and used in web design, mobile apps and web apps. There is a lot of controversy about slideshows. Slideshows have been a simple and easy-to-use convention for over 30 years. However, many designers have recently started to dislike them. We get it.


Why should we use them: Directing attention


Interactive designs encourage meaningful engagement. Constructive interaction must be planned to get targeted attention. This is how you balance a number of interactive elements to create a user experience.

While you want your content to draw attention, it shouldn’t be overwhelming or distracting. Is it telling a story that reinforces your core message and encourages people to explore? Or are too many messages being sent that overwhelm users and weaken your brand?

Is your content directing attention to your call for action? Are there too many distractions? Too much movement equals confusion. A story is built by effective and deliberate movement.


Why Should We Use Them? Adding Interactivity


Slideshows can be used to tell stories that reinforce your main message and call attention to your call for action. They also strengthen your brand by balancing movement with interactivity. We discussed synthesising convention and innovation in another blog post. This allows you to create products that are both creative and adhere to best design practices to ensure usability. It is possible to creatively use common conventions to achieve key strategies like storytelling.

Smashing Magazine explains the familiarity with the slideshow convention. They are extremely easy to use and can be used anywhere.

Slideshows offer this opportunity, which is to combine innovation and convention in a way that can communicate key messages, your brand’s essence, and the value of your call-to-action. This convention combines multiple interactive storytelling elements in a compact package that maximizes the space you have.


Highlighting Rich Content


Slideshows can be dangerous because they contain too much content that is not related to the main story. This is a common criticism. Your slideshow can become disjointed if it is full of non-related items, which could lead to it losing focus on the main story. A slideshow that is too long can lead to confusion for the user.

Slideshows can be used to highlight rich content. They allow you to build stories on top of each other, but still relate to the same message or theme.

You should accept the possibility that not everyone will see the entire content. Slideshows should encourage users to explore more. Slideshows shouldn’t contain your content. However, you can add interesting examples to show the theme or topic you are highlighting.


You Can Use Them But Not Overdo It


Slideshows and carousels can be a powerful tool in web design. However, like all tools, they should be used with good judgment.

Jakob Nielsen discusses the dangers of using slideshows and carousels too often: “One plague that’s really on this web right now is the overuse of carousels, and the notion that the homepage can’t have just one main feature [. . . ] Although it’s not the best way to expose richness of content or richness of offerings, I believe that carousels are sometimes there for political reasons.”

Nielsen’s argument is not without merit. It can be tempting to use slideshows or carousels to maximize real estate. This is because it will allow you to pack more information into the area that visitors will spend most of their time looking at. As in any collaborative effort, politics can also overthrow sound judgments about which information should be included and what information could be saved for another area of the website.

Nielsen fails to recognize that slideshows or carousels can be used as interactive storytelling tools, allowing users to explore a single feature more deeply. Slideshows are visually appealing and easy to follow. Slideshows are an excellent way to expose rich content and rich offerings. However, they must be used carefully to maximize exposure.


Additional Considerations


We explored in another post, “People scan websites (they don’t read them)” how people spend their time scanning websites to discover relevant information.

Nielsen is right to point out the dangers of overuse. However, his analysis ignores the fact that a slideshow can be an innovative convention that uses valuable real estate. It can also act as an interactive storytelling technique that encourages users to explore other parts of the site.

It’s important to assess whether the convention is serving the overall design or user experience. Slideshows can be a great way to show off your most important content, and make the most of space.


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