Posted by Roger

Intro

Sliders (also known as carousels, rotating offers or rotating banners) were a very popular feature of websites during many years - and for good reason - but their time has gone and they need to be retired.

They were frequently used at the top of the home page and were regarded as a great way of displaying a number of important aspects of a business - maybe a slide for each main service offered or each category of product being sold. Or, the slider could be used for showcasing featured products, special offers etc etc. I'm sure you've seen these sliders used in many different ways.

An accident on skis. Sliders need to go now.

However, there's a problem - potentially, several problems - with these sliders, irrespective of whether the images slides from one to another or simply fade from one to the next. Harsh reality outweighs any perceived benefits of sliders.

Problems with sliders

First of all, please have a look at this slider which is designed to demonstrate why they are so poor from a user point of view. It's just text, but illustrates some of the issues - https://shouldiuseacarousel.com/.

Frustration for users

It's a frustrating experience. Often a slide disappears from view before you've had a chance to read it. Or, it lingers too long and you scroll or move on elsewhere before the next slide arrives.

Nobody clicks buttons on sliders

It's common to find buttons on sliders which take you to a page with more details of the offer or whatever. Real-world research shows that only 1% site visitors actually click on a slider and the vast majority of that 1% only click on the first slide. This begs the question - why have more than one slide!

Banner Blindness

Another phenomenon pointed out by the respected Neilsen Norman Group, is that of 'banner blindness'. Their study of carousels lists a range of usability problems and they finish with "Most important, because it moves, users automatically assume that it might be an advertisement, which makes them more likely to ignore it." Perhaps this is why only 1% of people click on a slide.

Slows the page

Google have placed a lot of focus on how quickly pages load and slow loading pages are increasingly penalised in the search results. The code required to produce sliders can be slow and the loading of multiple images (unless done well) will also slow the loading of the page. This problem is likely to be more acute on mobile devices. Again, this will lead to user frustration.

Pushes the useful content down

If you're using a large image slider at the top of the page, then the 'real' content is lower down forcing people to scroll, especially on mobiles. The research on banner blindness shows that the large slider is taking up space where the 'real' content should be. Space is at a premium on smaller devices particularly, so make best use of it by removing the slider otherwise your conversion rate of visitors to customers is very likely to suffer.

Bad for accessibility

Content that moves on the page is distracting at best, but for people with visual and/or motor disabilities, they can be a more serious problem. Users need to be in control of what happens on their screen.

What's the alternative?

A stylish hero image

This can grab people's attention just as much as a slider. It also has the advantage of being faster to load (just one image), focuses on one thing and it won't damage performance or accessibility either.

Attractive website main image from Neve's Bees website instead of an image slider

Card type layout

Maybe several images side by side in a card layout.

Attractive card-style layout from OxDesigners instead of an image slider

Video

This should be the exception as videos are not good for performance but a short video can allow you to cover several items quickly. I would avoid this option unless you have carefully considered and rejected all other possibilities.

Conclusion

The conclusion is clear and unequivocal - don't use sliders on your website and, if you have them, replace them with something better asap.

They offer some small benefits but these are far outweighed by the disadvantages.

References


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