The design trend I love to hate, what about you?

There’s a design trend that has been plaguing the internet for a while now — and it’s my most hated of them all.

For me, this particular trend creates such a bad UX that I am guaranteed not only not to read your article, but I’ll also avoid your website at all costs in the future.

Let’s break it up!

I can picture it now, some designer somewhere with a client who comes to them with that age old problem — “I want more visitors to come to my website and I want them to stay for longer”. Great that’s two metrics we can easily pinpoint, get a baseline for and measure our success against.

The designers magical solution? Let’s break your content up into a slideshow!

Slideshows are an ever-growing way of breaking up content, to the detriment of the user experience

Now let’s break it down…

Ok, so below is an example of what I’m talking about — and you know it already, you’ve seen it a hundred times before. Maybe you too hate it or maybe I am the exception but here are my thoughts it.

Example of bad UX for good content

Let’s break it down into it’s elements…

OK great you’re giving me an option to view all on top at least, but why is that not the primary view for me? Why are you hiding content when I’ve already made a conscious decision to read your article?

Users can generally make up their own minds about how much they want to read but this is aided by being able to scan the content quickly. If a user can scan ahead to see what’s coming they will determine it’s value for themselves and continue on if the content is worthy of their time.

Let’s pretend for now this view all option isn’t available, here’s a play by play of how I interact with this article:

I look at the photo, scroll down to read the content and now I’m done, ok great I’m loving this article but where’s the rest of it, I want more! Where to? Oh no… the toggle to change to the next slide is on the top of the page. How frustrating. Look, scroll down to read, scroll back up, click next, repeat, over and over. 19 times. No thank you — I have better things to do. Especially with my crappy internet connection I don’t have time to wait for 19 slides to load.

Sure there are also just bad UX decisions made in this particular layout but in the end all these content slideshows actually achieve is to frustrate your users, make the content longer to navigate and harder to digest as a result.

Slideshows are frustrating to navigate and take longer to read

The only other reason I can think of that it’s been purposefully broken up this way is to track clicks — and oh boy do I love analytics! But it’s absolutely crucial for good UX design to put the user’s needs before analytics and SEO. Users aren’t robots and don’t want to be treated like machines.

If you want to actually read the content here, you have to click a second time on ‘+ Read Caption’
And then this is all I see… was it really worth that extra click?

Don’t get me wrong, as a designer of course I’m big fan of breaking content up into smaller more easily digestible chunks. We all know in our industry that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and that their time is becoming too valuable to spend on any one task for more than a few mins.

But really, is this the best content display mechanism? Why are you making me work so hard for so little in return?

Can you really not show me more than this small amount of content in one go without me becoming distracted with something shiny…. wait what was I saying?

You get the point.

The bottom line

For me this trend of breaking up content into a slideshow not only insults my intelligence, but suggests that I have the attention span of a 3 year old. Are things really that bad?

In a world where attention is constantly being pulled from one thing to the next it’s now more important than ever to consider the value of the content that you’re publishing rather than the length of it.

Content can be any length so long as it’s high quality and designed for easy reading.

I’d rather visit a website that I have to scroll on for 20 minutes to read an interesting, insightful article that I can learn from, than a slideshow any day.

Look at this different example by the BBC of content broken down into smaller digestible parts, while still remaining engaging and readily available to the user.

For me, serving content up in a slideshow format is lazy, creates a bad user experience and it’s a web design trend I would love to see die.

What do you think?