A lot of big blog these days are running what I like the call the carousel. This typically includes 3-4 featured stories, accompanied with images, and little sub-headings. It also appears in the header of the site, above logos and post content.
In addition to looking pretty, the carousel DRAMATICALLY helps increase page views.
For a blog, 3 to 4 page views per session is GREAT. So you want to do everything you can to encourage those additional clicks. The carousel helps to highlight your best content, so regardless of how the visitor enters your site, they can easily discover it.
I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few carousels, along with my two cents on each of them.
Off we go:
Gawker basically pioneered the carousel for blogs. They’ve made little tweeks along the way, and now feature four stories along with a 300×250 ad flushed right. Traditionally publishers have placed a 768px wide banner up top, but this never really looks good. The square ad blends in much better here, likely increasing CTR (click through rate). They also write some of the best headlines for these items.
The Crunch soon followed Gawker and rolled our their own carousel. It features 3 stories and uses nice beefy images. With MG Siegler writing some of the headings, you may find yourself giving a little chuckle, followed by your click through. Lately TechCrunch has been running big stories here over several days. This helps ensure visitors don’t miss them. Should you (heaven forbid) stay offline for more than 24 hours.
Mixergy founder Andrew Warner recently overhauled his site, greatly improving its design and layout. Part of the upgrades included a carousel that highlights his recent interviews with various tech luminaries. Andrew doesn’t use headings here, but does include a subtle play button in the lower right corner. This helps signal the visitor that beyond that click they are likely to find some form of video or audio.
So for my own site I opt for 3 stories with headlines. I include the post title as well, using some text formatting that is annoying enough to be interesting, therefore drawing your eye. I go for high impact images as well and always try to include an illustration when possible. I go overboard on some of the CSS formatting, trying to make each unit pop. Finally I keep the logo at the same level of the featured content, because, well I’m a brand fame-ball like that.
Ok ride is over, please exit safely to your right. Let the ride operator know your favorite carousels in the comments below.