Sliders Are Bad For Your Website
More precisely, sliders, also known as carousels, are bad for your audience engagement on your website. Audience engagement, as we know, is critical for converting people into customers or supporters, and beyond that, search engines also track time spent on a page indicating that it likely has at least some impact on your rankings.
“But if people have to sit through a slideshow, aren’t they spending more time on the page?” Not necessarily.
The statistics around sliders are pretty dismal, and the likelihood they increase bounce rate must be considered. Bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who leave without ever looking at a second page.
The University of Notre Dame ran a study on the usage of a homepage slider on their website a few years ago. Out of 3,755,297 visits to their homepage in a six-month window, only 1% of users clicked on a slider, and 89% of those clicks were on the first image. Hardly anyone was willing to make it past the first slide or even act on what they saw. That homepage real estate is far too valuable to waste on such low engagement rates.
Why Don’t People Like Sliders?
For starters, they come across a little spammy by flashing a lot at users as soon as they enter a page. They can easily feel like unwanted ads. Further, they remove some control from the user by automatically rotating to the next image. Bells and whistles can be great on websites, but not when the user isn’t in control. This is part of the user-experience (UX) you have to consider. Add on top of this that most web designers and developers just aren’t planning for an ADA-friendly slider like they should. ADA-compliant sites should always leave the user in control and play nicely with any assistive technology.
We also need to consider attention spans and overall experience. Let’s be honest—we’re a fast-moving culture, and we love fast gratification. We want to be wowed quickly, find answers easily, and it’s our jobs as designers and marketers to make that happen. Assuming that a prospective customer or donor even wants to sit and watch or click through a carousel is a stretch! What users do want is to be pulled into a website in a way that naturally encourages them to scroll through and click on what they came to find. This is accomplished with a variety of tools and tactics ranging from composition and color theory to the direction of a glance in a stock photo. All these things, and more, work together to break up space and prioritize the right content. It’s fresh. It’s fast.
Sliders Are Old-School
Just for good measure, we should also point out that as quickly as internet trends have changed and become brighter, lighter, and cleaner, a clunky slideshow could easily read as dated. We aren’t saying you have to go ultra-modern if that’s not your taste, but no one likes to be dated unless it involves a bottle of wine and long walks on the beach.