It’s a pretty gloomy day here in Silver Spring, MD, but what better way to brighten things up than to check out a website full of puppies! Today’s Webs user example site comes from BehaviorWorks Dog Training & Behavior Specialists, which has 5 locations around Wisconsin.

This polished and energetic website has a lot going for it. First, there’s a great header that clearly brands the business and offers contact information right up front. Next is the navigation, which is robust and user-friendly.

The third thing you’ll find – but probably the first thing you noticed – is a great image carousel. Also known as a content slider, this treatment can be a big asset to a small business website. However, the success of this technique does require some care. To help you get the most out of image carousels, check out these Dos and Don’ts:


Do Use Eye-Catching Images
One of the big benefits of image carousels is that they are engaging to the viewer. So make sure you maximize this by using your best imagery. Whether you have a photography portfolio or are showing off your range of products and services, make sure the images you choose have pop.

Don’t Move Too Fast
While the motion of an image carousel is one of the things that makes it so engaging, be careful not to go crazy with the speed. Somewhere between 3 and 5 seconds is a good starting point. Have someone unfamiliar with your site take a look and let you know if it feels too fast or too slow. You want to give people time to absorb the information (especially if you include text!) but not so much time that they get bored and move on.

Do Consider Using An Indicator
As with most things in life, it’s important to manage expectations. Either using thumbnails or numbers, some style of indicator is preferable with image carousels. It’s certainly not mandatory, and you can decide based on your unique website needs, but users do respond well to knowing how many slides they are going to be looking at.

Don’t Have Too Many Slides
Unless you are using a carousel to present your entire portfolio, it’s important to minimize the number of slides you show. This is especially true for image carousels that serve as the hero image of your website. Five slides is a good maximum. You can’t expect people to stick around forever, and you want to make sure they see that last slide!

Do Allow Manual or Auto Control
If the carousel serves as your header image, it makes sense to have it auto-play. The one word of caution here is that auto-playing can slow down load time for your site and cause people to abandon. This is mostly a concern on mobile sites, so you will just have to balance to rewards and benefits for yourself. If your slider does auto-play, make sure you do have an option available to control it manually for people who want to get a longer look at a particular slide.

Don’t Try To Do Too Much
While the appeal of a slider is that it allows you to highlight a lot of information within the prime ‘above-the-fold’ real estate on your website, don’t ask too much of your carousel – or your viewers. This space should be for images, minimal headline text, and maybe a call-to-action button. That’s it. Please don’t create jpegs of large text blocks and put them in a carousel. Nobody is a winner in that scenario!

Congrats to BehaviorWorks on a job well done. Have you thought about trying an image carousel? If you happen to have built your site with Webs, it’s easy to install and customize one of your own.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the resident blogger at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves marketing, small businesses, and whales. Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog and Google+.

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