Image sliders (not to be confused with carousel) can be an awesome way of displaying promotional graphics and imagery. But is it always a good idea to implement a slider onto a website?
Well the short answer is – No.
The long answer is: Noooooooooo!
Why you may ask? Well here’s a list a few reasons why sliders may in fact be a bad idea to implement onto your website.
I’ve seen it time and time again, where a client just wants a slider on their website. This is actually a pretty common thing with people who do not know the industry all that well. They’ve seen sliders on close to every website in the past and they tend to like the stock photography that it brings to the table. But is that stock photography actually worth anything?
So lets say you operate a sky resort, or a hotel chain – your visitors expect to see photos of said resort / hotel / spa…whatever. If that’s the case, then by all means, slap on a large full-screen slider on the homepage and don’t let anyone tell you different. That being said, if you’re operating a PC repair shop for instance, you have to ask yourself – do people actually care about a bunch of obviously stock photos that you got off of shutterstock? They don’t. They wish to see the services that you offer, your location, prices and contact info.
“But Daniel, how about having services rotate within the slider?” – Good thing you asked Billy! To this day it boggles my mind as to why you would EVER want to hide services from your visitor. Do keep in mind, most sliders display only a single slide at any given time. That in turn means that you’re only displaying a single service at any given time. See where I’m getting at? You’re hiding vital information to the visitor, because you wanna show off the cheap stock photo that you’ve bought.
Listen – we all love awesome photos, but as I’ve said at the beginning of this paragraph – unless you’re a holiday resort with actual good photos that you’d like to show on your website, don’t bother with a slider.
Nowadays it’s more important then ever to have a properly optimized website, both in terms of SEO and PageSpeed. The market is more and more competitive by the day and Google is taking into consideration how optimized your website is, when deciding your ranking for a certain keyword. Nobody really knows the exact algorithms of Google, but I can tell you, is that it’s somewhere at the top in terms of importance.
Sliders on the other hand, depend on high quality images, which increase page load times. If those images don’t bring anything to the table, it might be better to just let the slider go. Furthermore, if the slider is installed via a plugin (ie Revolution Slider), it means that it’s going to slow your website down even more, due to the need to offer insane amounts of customization for the broad spectrum of clientele that use said plugin.
Long story short – if you REALLY do need a plugin (chances are very slim), do get someone to code a basic slider for you. It’s going to perform a lot better and be a lot taxing on your server.
The years from 2008-2014 could be summarized with a single word – sliders. But how did we get to this point? Well the raise of Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress and Joomla definitely played a huge role. Installing a plugin which would allow you to display your favorite images became extremely simple. Add to that the countless templates and themes which use sliders to make their product stand out and you have a recipe for disaster.
There are some good news though. The “slider fad” as I like to call it, is dying down with people realizing that sliders, unless in some rare scenarios, bring close to nothing to the table and in some cases even going as far as hurting the website.
The rise of mobile web browsing has also helped reduce the amount of sliders that we use. Nowadays it’s about the “mobile first” approach to web design, which basically means that we’re designing websites for our phones and tablets first and then tweaking the design to fit on desktop. Obviously nobody cares about a slider on mobile, so we’ve pretty much stopped implementing them.
Sadly there are still “designers” who think sliders are an awesome idea. Why? Well they don’t do research and as such aren’t able to evolve with the industry.
The other reason is actually far worse. It actually considers the lack of creativity as a factor. In other words – a lot of them aren’t really capable of actual creativity and have to rely on overused elements like a slider to bring some form of integrity and content to the website (also the extra charge for implementing a slider is always welcome…whoops, did I say that? My bad.)
A lot of the time, that’s actually all that you need. A nicely designed graphic, or possibly a high resolution image of your product can make a much better impact than cheap looking rotating banners. The possibilities are endless, it’s just a matter of figuring out what will work best for your specific need.
I absolutely hate themes and templates, but that’s a story for another time. To summarize my thoughts on the subject – there is nothing worse than having your website look like a $40 theme. Your website is a reflection of your business – if it looks cheap and unprofessional, you and your business look cheap and unprofessional as well.
So lets say you’re paying $2-5k for a brand new shiny website. Do you really want it to look like something that can be bought for $40? Of course not. Get a real designer and have them create something which won’t resemble a generic site which can be created in literally 30 minutes.
So this comes from past experience of managing multiple websites for my clients. Editing, removing and adding new slides to the slider, which actually look good is incredibly time consuming. Sure, there are tools which make your life a bit easier, but creating something that looks good and delivers the important message on a regular basis is just not worth the time investment. Especially when you can achieve something way better without the slider.
There have been numerous studies and experiments on the subject of slider conversions. We’ve actually monitored click rates on sliders as well and have found that the best case scenario is a 1% click rate on call to action elements (CTA’s) if they are presented on a slider. Even worse – that’s only for the first slide. Just for reference, your conversion rate should be 1-3%, NOT YOUR CLICK RATE.
All in all, the next time your friendly designer attempts to sell you a slider, when it’s obvious you do not need one, just do a 180 and walk away laughing. At this point, there have been so many studies done on the subject that if a so called “industry expert” legitimately thinks you should have a slider on your website, they probably aren’t an “industry expert” to begin with and you can only expect his work to reflect that lack of knowledge about the industry.