Websites aren’t just a pretty face. In fact, their prettiness is only as good as the purpose it serves. Almost everything on a site should be geared towards helping you and your users achieve goals, like getting people to sign up for a demo or newsletter, request a quote, read more pages to get more information, or contact you.
It’s ok if some elements on your site aren’t proactively working for you, as long as they aren’t getting in the way.
You know what gets in the way? Sliders.
1) Sliders negatively impact conversions
Sliders are a popular feature on many homepages. They became fashionable when they came on the scene, since that type of functionality was difficult to create until then without Flash. Also, people like to be able to maximize the space on their site and fill it all with as many messages as possible, and a slider allowed site owners to display three, four, even ten messages in one space, rather than having to make do with one measly tag line and call-to-action. Content overload heaven!
But guess what? Study after study shows that people don’t interact with sliders in the way site owners would like them to. For example, in one study only 1% of site visitors clicked on the homepage slider, and of those people 89% of them clicked on the first slide! The other four slides were completely ignored. Another study by Nielsen Norman Group found that because sliders move automatically, people ignore them thinking they are ads. Yes, the banner blindness we have all developed also applies to non-ad elements that behave like ads.
So basically, sites that feature sliders above the fold on their homepage – some of the most valuable real estate on a website which usually includes calls-to-action to convert users – are basically making that content invisible to users who will ignore it and scroll down, or worse, bounce (leave the website).
2) Sliders are not accessible
Sliders also transgress a big no-no when it comes to creating accessible sites. Accessible sites are developed in a way that allows people with disabilities to access the content on the site, whether through screen readers, their keyboard, or by being able to enlarge the font without breaking the site.
Elements that automatically scroll or move without the user’s permission are not accessible. In addition, the arrows or buttons on sliders are often not accessible via the keyboard, so even if the slider can be paused, a disabled user may not be able to do so. Boooo.
Accessibility has always been important, but a new law passed by Israel’s Knesset has turned it into a legal issue for all websites targeting Israelis. By October 2016, all websites targeting Israelis must be AA accessible.
3) Sliders dilute your message
Let’s say users don’t ignore your slider because they think it’s an ad, and disabled users manage to navigate your slider because it’s built well…which message should they pay attention to? The one on slide 1 or slide 3? And which one is most important? And why is an offer to book a demo appearing together with the latest blog post? What do they have to do with each other? (Hint: nothing.)
Management may like that they get to push many messages to their users, but users may be overwhelmed by so many messages that they don’t know where to start.
Examples of sites with strong static header areas
Leading companies have gotten the idea, and will not use sliders on their homepage. Instead, they will use a powerful “hero” image, with a tag line and secondary line to quickly tell the user where they are, and why it matters. Here are some examples:
Say bye bye to sliders
It’s not that sliders don’t have a purpose. They can be useful for displaying a portfolio, or for ecommerce sites that want to display their wares in an easy-to-digest fashion. But they certainly aren’t all-purpose, and site owners should think twice before putting them on the top of their homepage. Important messages should be displayed in a static, clear, bold and appealing way.
We can help you improve your site’s usability and conversions with our online marketing consulting service. Find out more.