This article contains language that may be offensive to some readers.
Fuck sliders. While some people might think they are a great way to show more content to users, in reality no one usually gives a fuck about what comes after the first slide.
Before we get any further, we should be clear that we are referring the common usage of sliders at the top of your homepage, commonly referred to as the Hero Section, i.e., the most valuable piece of real estate on your entire website. We will touch on other slider applications later in this article though.
So, why do slider suck? Well, according to a study by Notre Dame University (https://erikrunyon.com/2013/07/carousel-interaction-stats/), only about 1% of users actually engage with sliders, and almost all of them only engaged with the first slide.
Worse, providing users with multiple offers, calls to action, or too much information at once, can divide their attention and create decision fatigue. Most users only spend about 5.9 seconds on a website’s homepage and now you’re trying to catch their attention with multiple crap during that brief window.
People often find sliders annoying and frustrating as well. Think about how many times have you landed on a website, seen a deal or offer presented right away, only to have it whisked away the next moment to present a new one. And then you need to engage and click back to get to what you were originally interested in. Yes, it’s only small bit of nuisance but, when you only have a brief window to get in a visitor’s good graces, that kind of bullshit can create a bad first impression of your brand.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, sliders can fuck over your loading time. Visitors these days expect a site to load within 2 seconds. If that slider is the first thing on your page, they are not going to sit around waiting for it. This screws with your page speed scores and negatively impacts your SEO which can hurt you by also decreasing how well you rank, leading to fewer new visitors. If you are going to use a slider, make sure it’s optimized as hell and includes only the bells and whistles it absolutely need.
So what should you do instead? If you only have a limited amount of time to grab a visitor’s attention, don’t fuckin’ waste it. Pick one goal for your hero section and craft a strong message around it. Instead of throwing a bunch of things at your visitors right away, grab their attention and hold it. Make the first thing your visitors see something compelling enough that they want to continue their journey on your site and provide a clear call to action for them to follow.
Ok, so what about when you’re using a slider somewhere else on your site? If it’s not in the hero section, is it ok? Well, that depends on a few things.
- Before using a slider, you should ask yourself, what is the goal I’m trying to achieve and does using a slider accomplish this better than another option?
- Where are you putting it? As we’ve already covered, slider can slow loading. However, having them further down the page means that it’s more likely to have loaded by the time a user scrolls down to it.
- If users aren’t clicking through to the next slide then it’s still pretty fuckin’ pointless. So how can you encourage them to do so? Can you structure the information in a way that encourages them to keep viewing?
- This leads to the final point. If a slider contains important information, put it on the first slide! No matter how great your slider is, you still can’t count on people to go through the whole thing.
Here are some examples of a good, or at least, not bad, use of a slider.
Showing off some select portfolio pieces.
A slider or carousel can be a good way to show off a few select pieces in a portfolio without taking up much room. It’s not critical that a user click through and view them but if give them the option.
Providing supplementary information for visitors who want it.
The key here is that none of the information is critical for users to know and the primary goal isn’t to convert, but to provide deeper knowledge to those visitors that want it.
Using a slider in your Hero Section is waste and is hurting you more than it’s helping. Instead, focus on crafting a single, strong statement or call to action to maximize conversions. If you are using a slider on your site, place it further down the page so that it loads before visitors reach it. Finally, make sure you’re using sliders purposeful and really thinking through how it fits into your site’s user journey.