Content sliders, also known as carousels, showcase multiple links and images inside one box. The slider rotates through a sequence of content at a set interval, displaying each ‘slide’ for only a moment before moving onto the next.
It was not long ago that sliders were the go-to homepage design. There’s a reason for that: sliders are dynamic and eye-catching, and they let you easily to swap content in and out to keep the homepage current.
So why are so many sites ditching them?
Just look at this post showing examples of beautiful slider design. How many of those sites still have homepage sliders today?
In short, the downsides of sliders outweigh their visual appeal. Sliders hurt a site’s search engine visibility, frustrate its users, and do little to drive conversions. We’ll take you through the reasons why you should dump content sliders on your website.
Page Speed Reduction
Page speed matters when it comes to search engine visibility. Most people will wait no more than three seconds for a webpage to load before they abandon it, and Google’s search engine algorithm penalizes sites that are too slow.
Too Many H1 Tags
Search engine algorithms look to H1 tags for clues to the subject of a page. Best practice is to have one H1 tag with relevant keywords per page. The more H1 tags you have on a page, the less clear it is what the page is about.
Trouble is, content sliders usually have a separate H1 tag for each slide. Each time it shifts from one slide to the next, the H1 tag changes as well. Search engines have a harder time contextualizing the page as a result, dampening the impact of those keywords.
Bad for Mobile Browsing
Soon, Google will begin ranking websites based on the mobile browsing experience rather than the desktop version. That’s bad news for sites with content sliders.
Not only do sliders reduce page speed (which leads to even longer load times on mobile devices), but they translate poorly to touchscreens. The images shrink, the text loses formatting, and the tiny controls are even harder to use than on desktop.
Low Clickthrough Rate
Many firms have done studies on the clickthrough rate of content sliders (Yoast has a great round-up here.) While different sites have had varying success, they all support the same troubling finding: few visitors click sliders at all, and the clickthrough rate decreases with each successive slide.
There are several reasons why sliders don’t click. For one, they often resemble banner ads, so the banner blindness effect leads people to ignore them. One company that ran tests on sliders found that users had a hard time locating information in a slider, even though it was in a large font at the top of the homepage.
Usability is another factor. People don’t want to wait for the slider to rotate, nor spend time figuring out how to go back to a slide they missed. As a result, many users either leave the site or find another route to the content they want.
Dominates Above the Fold
The space above the fold (meaning the part of a page users can see without scrolling) is a site’s most valuable real estate. If the content above the fold doesn’t make the right impression, people are less likely to explore the rest of the site.
Considering how few people engage with them, sliders are a poor use of that space. So what’s the alternative?
Take another look at the list we mentioned at the start. Many of those sites have switched to what’s called the hero layout – a single bold image and a compelling tagline. Given that the first image in a slider always gets the most clicks, this one-message approach makes a lot of sense.
Imaged Modified From: 123RF