Stop. Don’t be tempted by the allure of a slick looking website slider. At best, users are blind to them, at worst they annoy the user. Whatever you want to call them, “carousels”, “scrolling banners”, “offer bars” the results are always the same, less than 1% CTR which doesn’t lead to conversions or engagement.
“But all the best sites have them” I hear you say. Well, lots of sites have them, in fact it’s almost a challenge to find a site without jam packed sliders. However that doesn’t mean they are effective or that the sites that have them, are converting with them in any meaningful way. Do you really want to use half of your landing page for content that gets less than 1% of your clicks? Sliders are junk food for websites, they’re sloppy, high in screen real estate, empty on content and bad for users.
This is a short and sweet (or bitter depending on how you view sliders) post on the negatives of sliders. We’ll talk briefly about the design aesthetics from a UX point of view and also the implications on your site’s performance, as well as the effect it has on SEO.
“Carousels are effective at being able to tell people in Marketing/Senior Management that their latest idea is on the Home Page. Use them to put content that users will ignore on your Home Page. Or, if you prefer, don’t use them. Ever.” – Lee Duddell, WhatUsersDo.com
Before we we get into the nitty gritty, here’s the number one reason not to use sliders:
3 Reasons why sliders are hurting your conversions
1) Wasting the users time
Users don’t sit on a landing page reading all the slides before making a decision or taking an action. Static images with a clear singular CTA will always trump (sorry) multiple image slides. When there are too many messages loaded together, the core meaning is lost in a sea of text. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but users don’t eagerly sit and await the next slide for information. If the user can’t see it easily in the first few seconds they’ll exit. If the user is looking for a particular product/service or piece of information, they’re not going to look through the slider, they’ll ignore it altogether and search elsewhere on the site.
2) Lazy design
We’ve all done it. But far too often marketers and designers will fall victim to sticking a slider at the top of the page with big images as content filler. Usually internal teams can’t agree on a core message and everyone wants their 10 pence worth, you end up with 5 slides about everything you do, hence design by committee never works. A website should contain information that the users will find interesting and relevant to what brought them there in the first place. Not what you think they want to see. The way to achieve this is to trawl through your data and pull out the relevant content your users engage with and/or run surveys, split A/B testing. Of course you could just put a slider up, it’s easier.
Sliders are usually pretty weak when it comes to SEO. Many of them cram too many h1 tags onto each slide, have light or non existent content and are image heavy. The basics of SEO call for one h1 tag per page, which should be your primary CTA and appear prior to all other heading tags on the page. So if you stuff all your slides with h1 tags then all hierarchy is lost and there is no consistency from a keyword perspective.
There’s a ton of studies, heat maps and controlled testing to illustrate that consistently, sliders cause banner blindness and negative experiences for the user. Read the links if you want to deep dive into the research, or just read Erik Runyon’s post – it’s pretty damning.
So what’s the alternative?
The good news is that rectifying the slider problem is relatively easy and painless. Focus on a core message with a clear secondary explainer and strong hero positioning. Avoid using a generic hero image as a blurred background, they are distracting and can lose the message. Jakub Nielsen summarises it best: “If the graphic is interesting and relevant, users won’t be able to see it clearly; if it’s not, it’s unnecessary. So stick to a simple background or position your text over clear space to not cover the hero image. Below are a few great examples of landing pages without sliders they clearly convey the core message.
There are some small use cases where a slider can benefit, such as heavy image based businesses and portfolio websites for instance. That being said, it’s still best practice to keep slides to a minimum and keep a clear message throughout.
If you’re in need of some direction on where to take your landing page after the unceremonious removal of your slider, fear not – we’re here to help. We’re happy to have chat anytime about pretty much anything, drop us an email here, or get us to call you here.
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