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Mastering MUI Carousel: How to Design Effective Carousels

In the world of web design, carousels are like the Ferris wheel of content. They are an exciting and visually appealing way to showcase multiple pieces of information within the same space on your website. An MUI carousel, in essence, is a rotating slideshow that usually consists of images or other media elements along with accompanying text or captions. They are commonly used for highlighting featured articles, showcasing products or services, and displaying visual portfolios.

Carousels have been around for quite some time now, and their popularity doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. In fact, it’s only increasing as more designers continue to incorporate them into their designs. They are practical, allowing you to display many pieces of content in a single section, making your content very organized

Introduction to MUI Carousel and its benefits.

The Material UI (MUI) Carousel is a slideshow component for cycling through elements—images or slides of text—like a carousel. It is a powerful tool for web developers and designers, offering a range of features that make it a versatile and effective component for any React application. The MUI Carousel is built with CSS 3D transforms and a bit of JavaScript. It works with a series of images, text, or custom markup. It also includes support for previous/next controls and indicators.

One of the main benefits of the MUI Carousel is its ability to provide a visually appealing and interactive way to display content. It allows for easy customization of slide transitions and layouts, making it a flexible tool for creating engaging user experiences. Moreover, the MUI Carousel is designed with accessibility in mind. In browsers where the Page Visibility API is supported, the carousel will avoid sliding when the webpage is not visible to the user.

In the following sections of this guide, we will delve deeper into the features and capabilities of the MUI Carousel, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of how to use this powerful tool in your React applications.

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Prerequisites

To follow along with this tutorial, you will need the following:

  • Basic knowledge of React.js and Material UI.

  • Familiarity with npm and package installation.

Getting Started with Material-UI Carousel

Setting up your project

To begin mastering Material-UI Tables, you need to set up a React project. If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Follow these steps to get started:

Step 1: Create a React App

If you don’t have a React app already, create one using create-react-app:

npx create-next-app@latest mui-table

Step 2: Install Material-UI

Next, add Material-UI to your project using npm or yarn:

npm install @mui/material @emotion/react @emotion/styled

OR

yarn add @mui/material @emotion/react @emotion/styled

Step 3: Start your app

Run your app using the following command

npm run dev

Your app should now be up and running on localhost:3000

Basic Usage

The MUI Carousel is a versatile component that can be used to create a rotating slideshow of elements in a React application. These elements can be images, text, or custom components. The Carousel component is designed to provide a smooth transition between elements, making it an effective tool for highlighting content in a dynamic and engaging way.

Material UI doesn’t officially have a carousel component, however, there is a library React material ui carousel that you will be using, this library works with Material UI so you need to have Material UI installed, just like you did in the previous section. To install React material ui carousel, use this command:

npm i react-material-ui-carousel

To use the Carousel component, you first need to import it into your React component file:

import Carousel from 'react-material-ui-carousel';

Then, you can use the Carousel component in your JSX code. The Carousel component accepts children, which are the elements that will be displayed in the carousel. These children can be any valid JSX elements, such as images or text.

Here is a basic example of how to use the Carousel component:

import React from 'react';
import Carousel from 'react-material-ui-carousel';
import { Paper, Button } from '@mui/material';

function Example() {
   var items = [
       {
           name: "Random Name #1",
           description: "Probably the most random thing you have ever seen!"
       },
       {
           name: "Random Name #2",
           description: "Hello World!"
       },
       {
           name: "Random Name #3",
           description: "Another random thing!"
       }
   ];

   return (
       <Carousel>
           {
               items.map( (item, i) => 
                  <Paper key={i}>
                      <h2>{item.name}</h2>
                      <p>{item.description}</p>
                      <Button className="CheckButton">
                          Check it out!
                      </Button>
                  </Paper>
               )
           }
       </Carousel>
   );
}

In this example, the Carousel component is used to display a list of three items. Each item is represented by a Paper component, which contains a heading, a paragraph, and a button. The Carousel component automatically handles the transition between these items.

Customizing Autoplay, Indicators, and Animation Duration Time

The MUI Carousel provides a wide range of customization options, allowing you to tailor the carousel to your specific needs. Some of these customization options include autoplay, indicators, and animation duration time.

Autoplay: Autoplay allows the carousel to automatically cycle through the items at a specified interval. This can be enabled by setting the autoPlay prop to true and specifying the interval in milliseconds using the interval prop.

Indicators: Indicators are interactive bullet points that represent each item in the carousel. Users can click on an indicator to jump to the corresponding item. You can customize the appearance of the indicators using the indicatorIconButtonProps and activeIndicatorIconButtonProps props.

Code Example Demonstrating the Customization of the Carousel with These Features

Here is an example of how to customize the carousel with these features:

import React from 'react';
import Carousel from 'react-material-ui-carousel';
import { Paper, Button } from '@mui/material';


const index = () => {
  var items = [
    {
      name: 'Random Name #1',
      description: 'Probably the most random thing you have ever seen!',
    },
    {
      name: 'Random Name #2',
      description: 'Hello World!',
    },
    {
      name: 'Random Name #3',
      description: 'Another random thing!',
    },
  ];
  return (
    <Carousel
      autoPlay={true}
      interval={3000}
      timeout={1000}
      indicatorIconButtonProps={{
        style: {
          padding: '10px',
          color: 'blue',
        },
      }}
      activeIndicatorIconButtonProps={{
        style: {
          backgroundColor: 'red',
        },
      }}
      indicatorContainerProps={{
        style: {
          marginTop: '50px',
          textAlign: 'right',
        },
      }}
    >
      {items.map((item, i) => (
        <Paper key={i}>
          <h2>{item.name}</h2>
          <p>{item.description}</p>
          <Button className="CheckButton">Check it out!</Button>
        </Paper>
      ))}
    </Carousel>
  );
};

export default index;

In this example, the autoPlay prop is set to true to enable autoplay, the interval prop is set to 3000 to set the autoplay interval to 3 seconds, and the timeout prop is set to 1000 to set the animation duration time to 1 second. The IndicatorIcon, indicatorIconButtonProps, and activeIndicatorIconButtonProps props are used to customize the appearance of the indicators. The indicatorContainerProps prop is used to move the indicators further away down from the carousel.

Customizing Navigation Buttons

The MUI Carousel provides a flexible way to customize the navigation buttons, allowing you to change their appearance and positioning according to your needs. The navigation buttons are the elements that users interact with to navigate through the carousel items. By default, they are placed on the sides of the carousel, but you can move them to other positions or even remove them if you wish.

You can customize the navigation buttons by using the navButtonsProps and navButtonsWrapperProps props. The navButtonsProps prop allows you to change the styles of the actual buttons, while the navButtonsWrapperProps prop lets you change the styles of the button wrappers.

<Carousel
   fullHeightHover={false}    // We want the nav buttons wrapper to only be as big as the button element is
   navButtonsProps={{         // Change the colors and radius of the actual buttons. THIS STYLES BOTH BUTTONS
       style: {
           backgroundColor: 'cornflowerblue',
           borderRadius: 0
       }
   }} 
   navButtonsWrapperProps={{  // Move the buttons to the bottom. Unsetting top here to override default style.
       style: {
           bottom: '0',
           top: 'unset'
       }
   }} 
   NextIcon='next'            // Change the "inside" of the next button to "next"
   PrevIcon='prev'            // Change the "inside of the prev button to "prev"
navButtonsAlwaysVisible={true}  // boolean to make the navigation button visible
>
   {...}
</Carousel>

Code Example Demonstrating the Customization of Navigation Buttons

Here is an example of how to customize the navigation buttons of the Carousel:

import React from 'react';
import Carousel from 'react-material-ui-carousel';
import { Button } from '@mui/material';

function Example() {
  var items = [
      {
          name: "Random Name #1",
          description: "Probably the most random thing you have ever seen!"
      },
      {
          name: "Random Name #2",
          description: "generic carousel ui component carousel's default buttons Hello World!"
      },
      {
          name: "Random Name #3",
          description: "Another random thing!"
      }
  ];

  return (
      <Carousel
          navButtonsProps={{
              style: {
                 backgroundColor: 'cornflowerblue',
                 borderRadius: 0
              }
          }}
          navButtonsWrapperProps={{
              style: {
                 bottom: '0',
                 top: 'unset'
              }
          }}
          NextIcon='next'
          PrevIcon='prev'
          navButtonsAlwaysVisible={true}
      >
          {
              items.map( (item, i) => 
                <Paper key={i}>
                    <h2>{item.name}</h2>
                    <p>{item.description}</p>
                    <Button className="CheckButton">
                        Check it out!
                    </Button>
                </Paper>
              )
          }
      </Carousel>
  );
}

In this example, the navButtonsProps prop is used to change the background color and border radius of the navigation buttons. The navButtonsWrapperProps moves the buttons to the bottom of the carousel. The NextIcon and PrevIcon props change the text inside the navigation buttons. However, all this customization will not be visible until you make the navButtonsAlwaysVisible={true}.

Advanced Usage – Animation Options (Fade and Slide)

The MUI Carousel provides two types of animation options: fade and slide.

  • Fade: In the fade animation, the current item fades out while the next item fades in. This creates a smooth transition effect.

  • Slide: In the slide animation, the current item slides out of the view while the next item slides into the view. This can give a more dynamic feel to the carousel.

Code Examples Demonstrating the Usage of Animation Options (Fade and Slide)

Here is an example of how to use the fade animation:

import React from 'react';
import Carousel from 'react-material-ui-carousel';
import { Paper, Button } from '@mui/material';

function Example() {
 var items = [
  {
      name: "Random Name #1",
      description: "Probably the most random thing you have ever seen!"
  },
  {
      name: "Random Name #2",
      description: "Hello World!"
  },
  {
      name: "Random Name #3",
      description: "indicator icon, user specified styles Another random thing!"
  }
 ];

 return (
  <Carousel animation="fade">
      {
          items.map( (item, i) => 
            <Paper key={i}>
              <h2>{item.name}</h2>
              <p>{item.description}</p>
              <Button className="CheckButton">
                Check it out!
              </Button>
            </Paper>
          )
      }
  </Carousel>
 );
}

And here is an example of how to use the slide animation:

import React from 'react';
import Carousel from 'react-material-ui-carousel';
import { Paper, Button } from '@mui/material';

function Example() {
 var items = [
  {
      name: "Random Name #1",
      description: "Probably the most random thing you have ever seen!"
  },
  {
      name: "Random Name #2",
      description: " material ui icons, indicator icons Hello World!"
  },
  {
      name: "Random Name #3",
      description: "Another random swipe boolean true defines thing!"
  }
 ];

 return (
  <Carousel animation="slide">
      {
          items.map( (item, i) => 
            <Paper key={i}>
              <h2>{item.name}</h2>
              <p>{item.description}</p>
              <Button className="CheckButton">
                Check it out!
              </Button>
            </Paper>
          )
      }
  </Carousel>
 );
}

In these examples, the animation prop is used to specify the type of animation. The value of the animation prop can be either “fade” or “slide”

Real-World Usage of Carousel

Carousels are widely used in many websites to display content in a visually appealing and interactive way. They are often used to showcase high-resolution images, graphics, and videos, and can be used to guide users to other pages or sections of a website. Here are some real-world examples of carousels used in different websites:

YouTube:

YouTube uses carousels to showcase videos in a visually appealing and interactive way. The carousel automatically advances to the next video after a certain interval, and users can manually navigate through the videos using the navigation buttons.

Netflix:

Netflix uses carousels to showcase movies and TV shows in a visually appealing and interactive way. The carousel automatically advances to the next item after a certain interval, and users can manually navigate through the items using the navigation buttons.

Amazon:

Amazon uses carousels to showcase products in a visually appealing and interactive way. The carousel automatically advances to the next product after a certain interval, and users can manually navigate through the products using the navigation buttons.

Apple:

Apple uses carousels to showcase their products in a visually appealing and interactive way. The carousel automatically advances to the next product after a certain interval, and users can manually navigate through the products using the navigation buttons.

Dreamworks:

Dreamworks uses carousels to showcase their movies in a visually appealing and interactive way. The carousel automatically advances to the next movie after a certain interval, and users can manually navigate through the movies using the navigation buttons.

next and prev buttons in Dreamworks website

Squarespace:

Squarespace, a popular website builder, uses carousels to add visual interest to websites. Carousels in Squarespace can display images, videos, and text in a rotating carousel. To add a carousel to a Squarespace website, you need to go to the Design tab and click on the Add button. Select Carousel from the list of options. You can then add images, videos, or text to your Carousel. Once you have added all of your content, you can click on the Save button to save your changes. This allows for a dynamic and interactive experience for users.

While carousels can be a great tool for displaying content, use them carefully and present them in a way that is easy to navigate and read. It’s also important to ensure that the content in the carousel is relevant and interesting to the users.

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Best Practices

When using the MUI Carousel, there are several best practices to keep in mind to ensure that the carousel is useful and not annoying to the users.

  • Avoid Overuse: You should not overuse carousels, even though they can be a great tool for displaying content. Having too many carousels on a single page can be a chore for users to navigate through. It’s best to have a maximum of 2 carousels per page.
  • Control Auto-Play Speed: If you are using the auto-play feature, make sure it doesn’t play too fast as this may become annoying to the user. Allow the user to feel in control by providing a pause button.
  • Mute Sounds: If your carousel includes sounds, make sure they are on default, muted. Provide a button to unmute the sounds if needed. Auto-playing music on a website can be very annoying to users.
  • Keep Text Short and Clear: If you are using auto-advance, be sure to keep the copy short and clear. If you’re not sure your copy’s short enough, throw it into the design and see if you can read it before the slide moves on.
  • Use Understandable and Recognizable Icons and Links: In navigation controls, aim to help people identify the choices, and recall them after they have already seen the content in the main frame. Dots are a particularly poor cue on mobile devices, because people often do not notice them.
  • Customize Navigation Buttons: The MUI Carousel allows you to customize the next and previous buttons. You can change them to be an MUI Icon or an image of your own.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your carousel is not only visually appealing but also user-friendly and engaging.

Conclusion

In this article, we have explored the MUI Carousel in depth, discussing its various features, how to use them, and how to customize them to suit your needs. We have seen how to use navigation buttons, how to control the animation options, and how to enable dynamic height. We also discussed real-world examples of carousels used and implemented in different websites.

Now, you also know the best practices for using the MUI Carousel, such as avoiding overuse, controlling auto-play speed, muting sounds, keeping text short and clear, using understandable and recognizable icons and links, and customizing navigation buttons.

The MUI Carousel is a powerful tool that can greatly enhance the user experience of your React applications. It provides a simple and flexible way to display content in a visually appealing and interactive way. By following the best practices we have discussed, you can ensure that your carousel is not only visually appealing but also user-friendly and engaging.

We encourage you to start using the MUI Carousel in your projects. With its extensive customization options and easy-to-use API, it can help you create stunning carousels that will engage your users and enhance their experience of your application

To learn more about MUI Carousel, you can check these helpful resources:

Victor Yakubu

Victor Yakubu