Home Page Sliders – Get off the Carousel

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When a visitor lands on your website home page, it has its work cut out.  Within a few short seconds it must convey a clear message and persuade the visitor it offers precisely the information they are seeking.

But are the sliders – the continually changing images at the top of the page – helping get your message across?

Sliders, also known as a carousel, have been popular for a while.  But research has shown its time to ditch them completely! However nice they may look, they can seriously damage your conversion rates for all of the following reasons:

1. The Banner Blindness Phenomenon

Sliders typically have a fundamental flaw – their size, position and the fact that they keep changing is far too reminiscent of a banner ad for many people.  And so they just ignore them – without even thinking about it.  As banner advertising has increased across the internet so has banner blindness – visitors simply ignore these often irritating interruptions as they focus on the main body of the website as they try to find the content they are looking for.

2. Low Click Through Rate

Even if your visitors do take note of your sliders, the variety of messages that they are bombarded with may pose a conundrum – give a visitor a choice of calls to action and they are likely to take no action at all. Best case scenario is that they just see the first slider and click on that image, completely overlooking all other messages you are trying to impart.

3. Catch Them While You Can

Keep the time delay between sliders too long and you visitors won’t even realise there are more images beyond the first one they see.  Speed things up and your reader may struggle to read and properly absorb the information before the slider widget merrily skips on to the next – let alone decide if they want to press that all important call to action button.

4. Challenges For Mobile Users

The fact that more people now access the internet via a mobile device than a desktop computer renders sliders even more problematic – they just don’t work well on smaller gadgets.  The image size has to be reduced making any text or call to actions invisible to all but those who have a magnifying glass to hand.  And this is bound to irritate the viewer.

5. Loading Times Are All Too Slow

Sites with a number of high resolution slider images may take a long time to load, a situation compounded when the user is on a mobile device using WiFi access.  As these users wait for the website to load, they will soon tire of the delay and will try to backtrack as fast as possible.

6. Sliders Hurt SEO

A slow lead time will inevitably increase bounce rates.  And as bounce rates increase, Google will see your website as a poorer fit for organic search results – so you will be downgraded in the rankings list.

There are also other aspects of sliders that will impact negatively on your SEO – text within the slider image is invisible to Google and you’ll have pesky duplicate H1 tags due to the slider widget, that you really don’t want to have.

A Hero to the Rescue – Instead of using sliders in your website design, use the hero layout – a single “hero” shot with a concise message and a clear call to action.  By conveying a simple, single message to your website visitors on your homepage, you will find your conversions improve considerably.

So what is the hero layout?  Think Dropbox…..think Twitter.

Dropbox Homepage with Hero Image

They both use the hero shot to perfection – a clean, simple, static design sitting above the homepage fold.  This kind of approach will help drive business your way because it results in:

a) shorter loading time

b) consistency across different browsers and devices

c) no duplication of H1 tags which Google sees as keyword spanning

But the most important advantage of the hero layout is that when optimised it calmly leads your visitor by the hand and directs them to take the action you want them to.  Modern websites which have embraced the hero layout know the importance of simplicity – less is indeed more – and so their homepages feature a stationery and often impressive image alongside minimal text and an opt in button – all beautifully laid out above the fold.

And what does the website visitor see?  A clear message, a professional layout and no doubts about what action they need to take should they wish to take their journey further.

As far as we are concerned there really is no competition between sliders and heroes – and we can only recommend that you get off the carousel and go find a hero of your own without delay.

Update 24 Nov 2023

Why Home Page Sliders don’t work at 2023

Here are some reasons why homepage sliders may not be as effective in 2023:

1. Low Engagement:

  • Users tend to ignore or quickly scroll past sliders. Research has shown that the first slide usually gets the most attention, and subsequent slides receive significantly less engagement.

2. Banner Blindness:

  • Users have developed “banner blindness” over time, where they automatically ignore or overlook areas of a webpage that resemble traditional banner ads. Sliders can fall into this category.

3. Slow Loading Times:

  • Sliders can contribute to slow loading times, especially if they contain large images or animations. Slow-loading websites can result in a poor user experience and negatively impact SEO.

4. Accessibility Concerns:

  • Sliders can present accessibility challenges for users with disabilities, especially if they automatically transition without user control. Users may not have enough time to read or interact with the content.

5. Mobile Responsiveness:

  • While many websites are now designed with a mobile-first approach, sliders can still present challenges on smaller screens. They may not display well or may take up too much valuable screen space on mobile devices.

6. SEO Impact:

  • Content within sliders may not be as easily indexed by search engines, potentially affecting SEO. Search engines may prioritize content that is immediately visible without interaction.

7. Confusing User Experience:

  • Users may find sliders confusing, especially if they change too quickly or if there are too many slides. This can hinder the ability to effectively communicate key messages.

8. Inconsistent Branding:

  • Each slide in a slider may have a different message or visual style, leading to inconsistency in branding and messaging. This can dilute the impact of your brand on visitors.

9. Data Shows Limited Clicks:

  • Analytical data from various sources has indicated that click-through rates on sliders are often low. Users may not be motivated to interact with the slider content.

10. A/B Testing Results:

– A/B testing conducted by some organizations has shown that static, hero-style images or content perform better than rotating sliders. Users tend to respond more positively to a single, impactful message.

11. User Expectations:

– Users today often prefer a straightforward and clear presentation of information. A slider might not align with modern design trends that prioritize simplicity and clarity.

12. Focus on Mobile-First Design:

– As more users access websites on mobile devices, design trends have shifted towards mobile-first design. Sliders may not always translate well to smaller screens or touch-based interactions.

Keep in mind that while sliders may have certain drawbacks, their effectiveness can vary depending on the specific context, content, and target audience. It’s important to consider user behavior, conduct usability testing, and monitor analytics to determine the impact of homepage elements on user engagement and conversions. Design choices should always be aligned with the goals and preferences of your target audience.