Why Home Page Sliders Suck
Whilst I write this the most common element to almost all websites is the use of a multi-image slider on the homepage of your website.
After researching the use of sliders and their effectiveness for conversion and user experience they do not provide any benefit to your website visitors.
Homepage sliders (a.k.a carousels) are dead.
Sliders Are Everywhere!
It seems that every new website has some sort of slider on the homepage, and not to mention the ever-growing number of sliders released onto the WordPress market.
The latest trend is to have a massive homepage slider that extends past the fold. Why?
While it may look awesome it is taking up the prime real estate on your website when your visitors first arrive. Although the slider may look pretty but if it doesn’t serve a purpose and push site visitors towards a conversion goal then it’s pointless.
There is a mountain of data on the inter webs about the negative sliders have on conversions
Here are a few:
- Jakob Nielsen found that sliders are either ignored entirely or, if they aren’t, are perceived as annoying by users.
- Erik Runyon tested a slider on ND.edu and saw abysmally low click-through-rates.
- This post by SearchEngineLand confirms the awful click-rates and also goes into details on reasons why sliders negatively impact your site’s SEO.
For a site that has a slider and numerous slides, one of two things is going to apply: you’re either interested in what’s on the slide or you aren’t.
If you are interested, then the content is whisked away and replaced by something else before you can fully take it in.
If you aren’t interested, then you’ll probably scroll down before the second slide even appears. Think about it: when’s the last time you stared at a web-page for several seconds, even though it contained nothing that caught your attention?
The elephant in the room is the fact that with the auto forwarding or auto rotation your websites call to action may not have enough time to make be absorbed.
The simple solution is the use of a hero image or to make the slider static.
This is visually striking, but whether it’s effective or not is a different question. There are two major issues I see with most of these types of layouts:
- The image is too generic. Because of the layout, the image almost has to be generic and non-specific. After all, it’s a background image. The problem is that unless the image really adds meaning to the page, it’s just a waste of space and bandwith. And if the image is highly relevant and specific, then it probably shouldn’t be in the background.
- It’s a full-height image. Typically, the image takes up all of the available above-the-fold space. This pushes all your other content too far down the page and it also means that some of your visitors won’t realize that they can actually scroll down to learn more (because it’s not implied, visually). This might seem strange, but it’s a more common usability issue than you’d think.
This doesn’t mean that I’m about to lay into hero layouts as well, after having lambasted image carousels. I’ve seen the “hero” name attached to a wide variety of different layouts and not all of them are bad.