Sliders, 5 reasons why not to use them

Carousels: friend or foe?

We have a lot of discussions with clients about how to make home pages look beautiful and engaging, provide memorable user experiences. Often the suggestion is to showcase as much gorgeous imagery as possible. The solution, you’re probably thinking, is obvious… add sliders or carousels! But alas, you may need to think again.

Sliders are rarely seen

Users are banner blind and slider sick. People cope with the constant pressure of advertising by developing a blind spot. They recognize the (lack of) value of something they see and skip what is not relevant to them. This leads to a dramatically low effect of sliders on your conversion. Less than 1% of people ever click on a banner, given the amount of screen estate they take up that is quite a bad performance.

But… my slider is pretty

This is the trap. “If it’s pretty,” you might think, “it must be good value for users, right?”  While showing images is one use that has some merits, it’s a slippery slope. Too many large images will create slow loading times and challenge the users’ patience. Your home page has to make the best impression as quickly as possible. A top-heavy carousel that doesn’t load quickly – no matter how pretty – risks putting off your target audience and ultimately costing you customers.

SEO says no

For many of you, this will be the only argument you need. And while SEO isn’t the only factor to consider for your site content, when you have such a big site feature with no SEO value you should be starting to question the investment (time, cost and user interaction) required. And since Google isn’t using meta keywords in your ranking, just adding meta data to the images doesn’t help you, SEO-wise. On the whole, that equates to a fairly solid SEO fail.

It does not work in mobile

If you visit a website on a mobile phone sliders are often omitted or replaced by something else at best. Worst they don’t work at all leaving your user with a broken experience all together. For a channel worth between 20 and 40% of your traffic that is pretty bad.

Accessibility issues

This final argument against carousels really has no work around. Carousels are just generally a mess for accessibility. With changing content, different types of content, scripting interference and a raft of other factors at play, the most solid and well-supported frameworks can’t begin to address accessibility for these sliding beasts. From that perspective, you may as well consider any content inside your carousel invisible to folks with disabilities. That’s not a great position to be in for most online businesses today.

So… are carousels ever useful?

“Useful” is probably stretching it a bit. They’re not entirely useless. Carousels can be attractive as long as the content is optimised and the quantity of images is managed. As decoration they can offer a carrot to a particular kind of user and a certain kind of site. But you should consider content included in them to be ‘surplus’. Ultimately, ask yourself (and answer honestly) – what is this carousel trying to accomplish? If you’re asking it to achieve something more than simply decoration, you and your users will probably be disappointed. And that may not be worth it in the end.

If you are still not sure have a look at this site that will certainly help you out.