If you’ve visited a website at any point between the 90s and the present day, there’s a high chance you’ve seen a slider. You may think sliders are cool. You may think they’re useful. Hell, you may even want one on your own website. But we’re here to tell you that sliders have no place in modern web design.
What is a Website Slider?
A slider is a slideshow-like feature typically found above the fold of a website. “Above the fold” is the term used to describe anything visible to the user before they begin scrolling down a web page — this will be important later on. Sliders are also commonly referred to as carousels, but they do have slight differences. Originally sliders were flat while carousels had a more 3D appearance. Today, the term carousel typically refers to a subset of sliders which showcase products.
Why do Websites Use Sliders?
Showcasing products, as previously mentioned, is one of the major ways sites use sliders (carousels). In fact, Google even uses carousels to display products in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Displaying large amounts of information in a limited space is another popular use of sliders. Some webmasters believe that their users would rather read text in a slide format than a column format.
Using multiple call to actions (CTAs) is the third reason sliders are used. When a webmaster wants users to perform one or more out of a number of actions, they will sometimes make individual slides for each CTA.
How to Create a Website Slider: A Step by Step Guide
So now that you know all about what sliders are and how they’re used, you probably want to add one to your site. To help you out with this, here’s a step by step guide on how to do it:
Step 1: Do not add a slider to your site.
Step 2: Do not ask us to add a slider to your site.
Step 3: Revisit steps 1 & 2 if you are still unsure.
Think of it this way: If a company selling a slider plugin for WordPress doesn’t even use sliders on their site, why should you? Isn’t it a bit suspicious for them not to be using a slider on their home page? Especially considering they have a blog post all about the “benefits” of including a home page slider.
Sliders Kill Your Site Traffic
Sliders are killing your site traffic. Or at the very least, they aren’t helping it. Page speed is a fairly important ranking factor for search engines such as Google. This means that while page speed alone won’t make or break your rankings, it does play a role. And do you know what slows down page speed? That’s right, sliders.
Earlier we mentioned how sliders are typically placed above the fold on websites. This is because the webmasters generally want users to be able to see a large amount of content without needing to scroll. However, because the slider is above the fold, this means everything within the slider is included as part of the initial page load. And since sliders are often filled with images, that can really slow down a site.
It’s also important to keep in mind that if a slider is above the fold, that leaves less space for the rest of your content. Google prioritizes above the fold content when determining how relevant a page is to a specific query, so you don’t want to be pushing your content down the page.
So sliders are really hurting your traffic in two ways. The slower page speed and content being pushed below the fold could be causing your site to rank lower in the SERPS than it otherwise would. And the longer loading times will cause your bounce rate — the rate at which users immediately leave your site — to increase.
Sliders Kill Your Conversions
There are a couple ways in which the use of a slider will kill your conversions. Let’s start off by taking a look at product carousels. These are theoretically good ideas to use because it means your users can easily scroll through your products. But do you know what works even better? Not limiting the products your users can view to a couple at a time by shoving them in a carousel. Even the ecommerce behemoth Amazon doesn’t use product carousels to showcase its inventory (other than the “customers also bought” section).
By putting products, or information, into sliders all you’re really doing is hiding some of it from your users. In the vast majority of cases, users aren’t going to sit there and scroll — or watch — through every slide of your slider. That means everything they don’t get to is wasted. If you have five slides and nobody makes it past slide three, you’ve missed out on potential conversions.
But we get it, you need a slider to showcase the four different calls to action (CTAs) you want your users to act upon. Well, we hate to break it to you, but each page of your site should only have one CTA. Multiple CTAs will distract users and they tend to end up going with none of them. Not to mention, it also makes it appear like you’re not sure which action you want your users to take.
Sliders Frustrate Your Site Visitors
Chances are that when you receive a visitor to your site you don’t want to give them a frustrating experience. But, that’s exactly what sliders do. In general, people prefer to read columns of text over slides of text which are continually on the move. Sometimes they scroll too slow, other times too fast, never just right.
And if you don’t believe us, check out this website which explains why you shouldn’t add a slider to your website by forcing you to interact with a slider of its own. It also includes some great slider facts, such as that only 1% of home page clicks are on sliders, and 89% of those slider clicks are on the first slide.
What to Replace Your Website Slider With
Alright, so if you shouldn’t be using a slider, what should you be using? First of all, a singular, clear CTA will net you a higher conversion rate than any slider ever could. But that doesn’t mean your home page needs to be boring.
One easy way to make your page stand out is by using a static image in the header. We get it, everyone uses static header images, so how does that make your site stand out? Don’t use a generic image. Select an image that ties into your brand, compliments your CTA, and resonates with your users.
An alternative which we’re big fans of is the header video. Video is much more dynamic than a static image, but can also be trickier to pull off. You want your video to be engaging and tell a story, but also not be so in-your-face that it distracts from the rest of the page. We even have some tricks to ensure pages load quickly despite including a video. For example, our newly created site for the National Dog Show uses a video header and scores a 96/100 for site speed.
Media Proper Web Design
If you need a website redesign and are considering the inclusion of a slider, we highly recommend you take everything we’ve just laid out to heart. A slider is bad for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate, and user experience. Trust us, we’ve been in the web design industry since 2001, and even back then sliders were on their way out. So now that you’ve realized why you don’t actually need a slider on your site, it’s time to contact Media Proper to learn all about how we can put our experience to work for your business.