Image sliders—aka carousels and/or views—are a trend remaining from an earlier age of website design. A time where websites themselves were younger and the principles guiding them were as well.
Nowadays, however, we know better and the research is well documented by authorities in the digital marketing community that sliders are no longer a best practice. Still, businesses, organizations and individuals are clinging onto their sliders for dear life.
Before we jump into why sliders should be eliminated on your website, let me first explain our design philosophy for a website and what it should accomplish:
A Website is an Attractive Digital Destination
Your website should be your online harbor for all visiting ships (aka visitors). It should be appealing enough to catch them during their journeys, which is accomplished by ranking for relevant keyword phrases that they find while searching online, and it should keep them there for a while.
Think about it—a harbor has restaurants, lodging, taverns and more, to keep weary ship dwellers in town for a while. It also keeps them coming back for more if it’s appealing enough. That’s exactly what your site should do.
A Website Should Generate Leads
After you bring people in to stay away, you should be grabbing their information.
Websites are notorious for simply bringing visitors and then never truly uncovering who’s exploring the online harbor.
Conversions are accomplished by setting up opportunities for your ideal consumers to give you some information in exchange for some information that helps their research process.
For example, we offer an eBook right on our home page (as you can see above) that helps potential clients in the early stages of their research journey understand why they should work with a marketing firm. This in turn, creates an exchange where we get their information and who they are. These are leads.
Now that I’ve explained a bit of website design philosophy, let’s dive into three reasons to avoid/abandon website sliders:
1.) Only 1% of Visitors Click on the Slider
According to Erik Runyon, only 1% of visitors click on the slider. Also, that 1% of visitors probably only click on that first slide, which means the others are passing by the wayside.
What does this mean? First it means that only 1% of people actually care about the slider. Secondly, it means that of the people that actually care about your slider, those people only get to the first slide. Those other slides you thought would catch on and portray the volumes of information you want to share? Yup—those aren’t even seen by the 1%.
In other words, we can say that less than 1% of people click on anything other than the first slide. With that in mind, those slides might as well not even be there. And from a conversion perspective, we could focus our efforts on refining the call to action of that first slide to get more people to click it, which again, eliminates the need for that darn slider.
2.) Sliders Frustrate Your Visitors
In website design, we need to focus on developing with two things in mind:
- Making it a priority to create an enjoyable user experience.
- Keeping our efforts in line with best search engine optimization (SEO) practices.
Sliders violate both of these (we’ll talk about the second one in a moment).
Sliders Create “Banner Blindness”:
Sliders, especially ones with a lot of text or visuals are overwhelming to your visitors. This overwhelm creates a “banner blindness” that causes them to immediately escape from the banner entirely into the rest of the site. Sometimes it may cause people to bounce from your website altogether, which is exactly what we don’t want.
This isn’t a good first impression either. That initial handshake, so to speak, is missed and messed because of that slider you’re clinging onto.
Thus, Sliders Have Weak Calls to Action (which are vital to retaining and directing visitors):
Also from the standpoint of setting the tone and quickly establishing the narrative, sliders are failing. Immediately, we want to clearly communicate what this website is about and whom it is about.
Sliders, again, create an overwhelm of information. Usually sliders are used because you couldn’t think of one, singular and refined call to action to greet your visitors with. You wanted to immediately let them know three, important messages with unique calls to actions to each (most likely). Unfortunately, you’re missing all three calls to action and thus have no call to action properly working on your behalf.
On the Top Hat IMC home page, we set the tone immediately with a quick, legible call to action that sums us up in a sentence. The call to action also launches people into our services. Both of these elements are what a visitor needs to understand who were are and what we do.
3.) Sliders Harm Your SEO
As I mentioned above, not only are you developing for the user, you’re also optimizing for search engines. You want to do this to grab online traffic the best you can.
Of the complex formula of SEO practices, page speed and headings (H1, H2, etc.) are extremely important. Both of these are harmed by sliders (especially solely image-based sliders with no real text).
Slow Page Load:
A slider takes anywhere from a while to load to a century to load. This is a detriment to your page speed, which will take your SEO rank down. Search engines use page speed to rank the relevance and quality of your website.
No H1 or H2 Tags:
Also if a slider is entirely image based, there is technically no active text on it. This means no H1 or H2 tags. On the example above of our home page, the top sentence is an example of an active H1 line of text and an active H2 line of text. These are placed over an image. What search engines will do is pull both the H1 and H2 tags to get an idea of what that page is about.
It is for these three reasons that I’m calling for death to sliders. From a website design perspective, these three reasons should be enough to dissuade you from clinging to them any longer. If your users and search engines aren’t happy with your website then you’re missing out on serious opportunities to grow your business.