Time and time again our clients ask for an image slider (also called a slideshow, rotating banner, or carousel) on their website and their reasons are almost always bad. Usually it’s because they find an inspirational website that has slideshow and the assumption is, “we should too”—or they feel it’s a good place to display multiple advertisements or important announcements.
Sliders are one of the most detrimental design elements you can add to your website, and if you care about your users and conversions you should avoid them at all costs. Let us show you what we mean.
Using Sliders: A Quick Example
We often direct our clients to visit shouldiuseacarousel.com to illustrate why we can’t stand sliders. Take a moment to view the site, read each slide just once without clicking back (important), and write down any specific details you can remember. Then, when you’ve returned to the beginning, compare your notes to the slides.
Frustrated yet? Apart from having a photographic memory (or cheating), most of our clients find it incredibly difficult to make sense of anything in this slider. Sure, you can navigate back to a slide if you missed something, but why bother? You can’t turn off auto-rotation, so unless you’ve mastered the art of speed reading, getting through the content is a chore.
Over the years many organizations have conducted extensive research on sliders and the results are conclusive: they suck!
The Empirical Proof
If you can find a single statistic from a legitimate study that proves image sliders are an effective website strategy, then we will gladly put this extremely overly-debated topic to rest (yes, we’re challenging you). Until then, here are some of the findings from a few noteworthy studies on sliders:
- One percent of users actually interact with a slider, and for those who did 89 percent clicked on the first slide only.
- Eye tracking studies conducted by Neilson Norman Group found that most users ignore sliders, as they cause banner blindness (i.e. the avoidance of content that resembles an advertisement).
- Chris Goward, founder and CEO of WiderFunnel, conducted a study that found homepage sliders are an ineffective way of presenting content.
Countless other studies have been conducted on the usability of sliders and the message is clear:
Sliders don’t convert well and more often than not they’re overlooked entirely by users.
Poor User Experience
Imagine reading a book and you get to a pivotal point in the story when some snot-nosed kid— let’s call him “Timmy”—slaps the book out of your hands. Bewildered, you pick up the book, dust it off, find your place, and begin reading where you left off when Timmy again slaps the book out of your hands.
Irritated, you walk away and go somewhere else, perhaps after telling Timmy’s mother that her sweet angel is being incredibly rude and disrupting your reading.
The same is true for image sliders. Just when you’re halfway through reading a piece of content… POOF! It’s gone just as if someone slapped it out of your hands. This is a terrible user experience and most people don’t have the patience to put up with it, nor should they. So rather than take the abuse they leave in search of a competing website that easily guides them to the content they’re searching for.
Let’s say you’re a website owner and your homepage has an annoying rotating image slider with multiple calls-to-action. Shortly after a user lands on your homepage, he or she clicks back to the search results because your slider was aggravating to use and made it too difficult to focus on your primary message.
Big deal? Roger that! You just missed a conversion opportunity! That user could have filled out your contact form, purchased a product, downloaded a white paper—or completed softer conversions, like subscribing to a newsletter or blog. Just having a slider is causing fewer sales and potential earned income. It’s worth repeating: you’re losing money.
Can you afford to do this? You might love that dang image slider, but the fact is most people don’t like them, and while the website belongs to you it’s not for you—it’s for your customers. A smart website owner will always serve the needs and desires of site visitors even if a design element goes against his/her personal preference.
Other Issues with Sliders
- They’re notorious for being inaccessible and make it difficult for people using assistive technology such as screen readers.
- Sliders push lead-generating content further down the page where users are less likely to see it.
- Rotating content is distracting and takes users’ focus away from important content such as your value proposition, products, services, and call-to-actions.
- Often times sliders are not responsive or they format poorly on tablets and mobile phones, which can hurt your SEO.
- Small or camouflaged pagination controls make it difficult to navigate between slides especially (as we saw above) when auto-rotation is used.
- Sliders are antiquated (like 2012 old), so if you insist on using a rotating banner at the beginning of a redesign, then your new website already looks obsolete.
So what should I use instead?
Static hero images are a great alternative to rotating image sliders, and here’s the best part: they actually convert. Dell decreased bounce rates by 27 percent and increased form submissions by a staggering 36 percent after implementing a contact page redesign that included a large hero image.
In the same article, Salomon, a sports equipment manufacturer based in France, saw similar results with their homepage redesign. A mega-hero image increased online sales by 39.8 percent in France and 29.7 percent globally. That’s quite an improvement over rotating content, which as we saw above, gets about one percent of clicks.
Anything is better than a slider—even a short video with B-roll footage if you can keep the file size from killing your page speed. Trust us on this (come on… we work on websites for a living)—sliders are useless and users don’t want them, so please don’t ask for them and if you have one now remove it as quickly as you can.