Breaking Up with Your Home Page Slider

The homepage slider. They’re sometimes called “carousels” or “slide shows“. They often appear near the top of the home page and typically include photos and text, and many times will automatically rotate from one slide to the next.

They once ruled the web because people were captivated by something moving on the page.  Over time though, and especially in recent years, they’ve become a disappointing user experience. There has been extensive testing by many agencies to prove this, and they all point to one conclusion: sliders, carousels, and slideshows are on the way out.

Here are 5 reasons why you end the relationship with your huge homepage slider.

1) Sliders Contribute to Lost Traffic

Sliders slow download times because they often use multiple large images, which quickly eat up bandwidth.

Websites lose traffic when it takes a significant amount of time to load content. That few milliseconds of slowness in loading several large images have been proven to contribute to a higher bounce rate.  “Bounce rate” is t​he percentage of visitors that leave a webpage without taking any action, such as clicking on a link, filling out a form or making a purchase.​

Some e-commerce websites have seen sales increase up to 45% simply by replacing a slider with a specific call to action or a static list of multiple actions.

Want to see an increase in your e-mail list signups?  Replace the slider with a kick-butt signup incentive and link it to your e-mail form.

2) Sliders can become invisible to your visitors

Banner blindness is when people subconsciously ignore content that resembles an advertisement.

When users visit a website, they have a particular objective in mind (like reading more about a news story they heard on the radio or registering for a contest) and anything resembling an advertisement gets passed over – both visually and perceptually.

Studies​ prove that most users see sliders as annoying ads too and automatically ignore them unless something really pops out on the first one. The layouts and designs of these sliders are similar if not identical to banner ads, which stay in the audience’s blind spot.

3) Sliders have horrible click rates

Notre Dame Slider Click Reserarch
https://erikrunyon.com

Visitors simply do not get clicked. This means they are not effective in moving visitors around your website and getting visitors to do what you want them to. A study by ​The University of Notre Dame​ showed a click-through rate of barely 1% on sliders. 84% of those clicks were on the first item in the rotation.​ Audiences simply don’t interact with sliders, and IF they do it’s ONLY with the first slide that appears.

Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google wrote in Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity, ​“Sliders please the owner of the site, but they deliver little to no value to the customer. The reason is that we are not going to sit there and wait for your ‘movie’ to play out. I’m also not a fan of sliders because for most businesses they provide an excuse not to think about personalization and being good at giving the customer the right answer, right away.”

Ouch!  (But, true for most.)

4) Sliders can harm your SEO efforts

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the ​practice of increasing website traffic and exposure to your brand through proper search engine results. ​The following impacts are associated with sliders and their poor SEO:

– Slow site speeds because of multiple large image downloads.  Slow-loading websites get pushed down in search results while faster loading sites get preference.
– Sometimes the headings in the slides are H1 (heading) tags.  Multiple H1 tags on a page create problems for search engine rankings because the content isn’t following the correct hierarchy for HTML.
– Some older sliders could possibly be flash-based and therefore impossible for search engines and some modern browsers (mainly mobile) to read.

5) Sliders can overwhelm visitors and turn away certain audiences

Users are coming to your site to gather the information they are looking for and hopefully interact with your station. Some sliders move so quickly that people can’t read the full message and take any action on the information.

​Sliders are not accessible to all audiences. Not only do people with vision impairments miss slider navigation but some sliders can malfunction within specific browsers that disabled persons use to navigate the web. This is a bigger problem than most realize and even the Department of Justice is working to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure an equal online user experience for everyone. Currently, sliders are not user-friendly for audiences with disabilities. For example, most sliders use tiny arrows or bullet points in discreet locations to control the slider. Audiences with vision impairments simply cannot see those controls, so it alienates that audience from interacting with your station or company.

So, what are some slider alternatives?

Dynamic content or content with a prominent call-to-action message have both proven to keep customers engaged.

For instance, a static hero call-to-action to enter the current contest, information about a concert event, even the latest breaking news or weather storm information can be beneficial to the visitor at that moment.

Instead of showcasing multiple messages in a slider, narrow down the single most important one, or display several smaller static messages stacked in columns or rows.  Small images load faster, and you still get the multiple messages across that you’re wanting to.  Just don’t fill the page with every option you can think of (overwhelming).

We’ve seen some radio stations use video. Just be sure they are short and focused with one clear message.  Video has incredible engagement rates too, and it’s often preferred by website visitors versus reading pages of text. Consider adding a video to your homepage with a message to do something specific like enter a contest or fill out your newsletter signup.  Record the engagement metrics and you will likely be surprised at how effective a call-to-action video can be.

Are sliders really dead?

For the most part, yes. Do we still offer them on our websites? You bet!  And our slider is better than most because our slider is dynamic and random in that every slide can show the latest post, most current contest, weather, latest events, etc without you having to do anything in the admin. Things just automatically rotate in and out to always look fresh, randomly.  But is it all worth it?  We have seen the degrading page load scores that even the coolest sliders can bring.  Our “Launch FM” main demo has a mid-level “A” GTMetrix page load score without any large slider on the homepage.  That score drops to a low “B” simply by adding our dynamic slider to it, even though it contains perfectly optimized images.  Most stations are not optimizing their images, so their scores are drastically lower.  Failing, in fact.

We continue to see sliders filled with large static images of every daypart show. Folks, studies have clearly shown that sliders are doing the opposite of what you intend them for.  You think they are promoting your shows. They’re not. They are simply distracting users from valuable content they come to the website for.  Want to promote your shows?  Rotate out single welcome videos from your personalities each day with calls to action to sign up for a contest or join your e-mail list. Don’t let them sit there for months, either.  Always keep your homepage fresh.

There are so many reasons to get rid of sliders. I hope this podcast helps you start a journey to a slider-less website.

Do you agree with this?  Reach out to us with your comments.  We’d love to hear them and please ask questions that we can answer on future episodes.  This podcast is to help you.

Jim Sherwood serves as chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects.