This is an unpurchased blog post for a website designer client.
Sliders are a classic website design feature that never seems to go out of style—even though they should. They seem like a great, versatile element because they allow you to put multiple messages on the same page without taking up extra space for each message and they create movement on the site.
But in reality, sliders don’t add value to your site. In fact, most are harming your site’s SEO ranking and user experience.
Visitors Are Blind to Sliders
Internet users today are so inundated with ads, that most have developed effective ways of ignoring them. Anything that looks like an ad is dead to them. It doesn’t even register on their consciousness. Various studies and testimonies from user experience experts show that sliders look like ads and therefore, visitors to your site are blind to them. They scroll right by, not reading them, and not clicking on them.
Less than one percent of visitors click on sliders, which is a very low conversion rate, bordering on completely ineffective.
Slider Headers Negatively Affect SEO Ratings
Many sliders wrap their headings in h1 tags. The h1 tag on your page is supposed to be the title of the entire page and denote what the main subject of that page is. Search engines prioritize the h1 tag to decide whether to serve your content when someone searches for your page’s keywords. That’s why having multiple h1 tags in the form of a slider can seriously hurt your site’s SEO ranking.
With three or more constantly changing h1 tags on a page, search engines can’t accurately categorize your page’s content.
Sliders Are Often Slow to Load
General wisdom states that the more images you add to a site, the slower that site is to load. Using a slider means that you are asking the browser to load multiple large images on each page that you have a slider. Most sliders load all images in the initial page load, so they are prepared to cycle through. Even if the image isn’t showing right away, it’s delaying the load time for your page.
Google penalizes slow-loading pages by moving them down in SEO rankings, and most users don’t have the patience to wait for a slow page—they’ll just go elsewhere.
Sliders Are Not Optimized for Mobile
Not only do sliders slow download speed, they also increase the amount of data mobile users have to use to visit your site. We’ve finally reached the point where the majority of internet users are accessing the web through their mobile devices. Website design principles are increasingly putting the mobile experience first, but many have yet to let go of sliders. Most sliders are not optimized for mobile use. The images and headers often don’t size correctly, and rotating function becomes even less user-friendly on a mobile phone.
If you let go of sliders for no other reason, do it for the sake of your mobile visitors—a user base that is growing every year.
Sliders Push Content Down
Most sliders are at the top of the page and do not provide helpful information that the visitor needs. This is wasted space and Google agrees. For years, the company has decreased the rankings of sites lacking real content “above the fold.” This measure was mostly created to prevent sites from filling the top of their pages with advertisements but also affects sites with large sliders and other graphics that take up the top portion of the site without adding useful content to the page.
If your slider dominates the top of your webpage, you are wasting valuable real estate for important, page-relevant content that the visitor expects to see when visiting your site.
Sliders Create a Confusing User Experience
Do the topics on your slider speak to the content on the page? Usually, they don’t. Having a constantly changing slate of messages at the top of the website or webpage is confusing for a visitor. Once someone is on a content-based page, the main elements of that page should only reference that page’s topic. If the slider is on the homepage, do the messages on the slider reference what the visitor wants, or what internal staff members want? Having multiple messages represented through a slider doesn’t improve the visitor experience. It confuses it.
Whatever the visitor (and the staff) wants can be represented on the page in a much more successful way than through a slider.
Sliders Are Not Accessible
Many sliders do not meet accessibility standards. Most do not have a pause button for visitors with reading disabilities or non-native speakers, and they are often set on too fast a speed for any user to fully understand that slide’s content. By the time a visitor has a chance to absorb the information on the slide and decide that they want to click on it, the slide has changed to another topic, and the visitor has to figure out how to get back to the offer they wanted. And not all slideshows work the same way so it can be a confusing and frustrating experience.
Ultimately, if your goal is to reach and convert customers, using sliders on your site may be alienating to any potential customers with disabilities.
Sliders are a flashy, often unnecessary design element that negatively impacts a site’s SEO ranking and user experience. So why do so many websites still use them? Sure, they are pretty and allow companies to balance various department messages and offers in one location, but they don’t take into account the visitor’s needs.
This is where site editing comes in. At the top of your design priorities should be the visitor experience. Edit your site and design ideas to only those that enhance the visitor experience. Sliders don’t enhance anyone’s experience. As much as we may wish them to, the data tells us differently.
Don’t lose hope, though, because there are many other user-friendly ways to design your site that still creates an impact. Contact [company name here] to find out how we can help you design a dynamic, user-friendly site for your company without a slider in sight.