example homepage slider images

Homepage carousels are costing you money.

Savvy website owners know that homepage sliders are a thing of the past. Dated, irritating, and about as rage-inducing as comic sans for many designers, they are a sure-fire way to signal to most of your audience that you haven’t re-thought your page design in years. And yet, the carousel remains in high-demand, a tempting way to make the home page seem more “exciting,” cram in more content, and satisfy competing priorities by “sharing” that high-demand, above-the-fold space.

Unfortunately, your homepage slider is costing you money by eating up important front-page real estate, turning away customers, and lowering your conversion rate. Here are our top 10 reasons why you need to ditch your homepage slider right away.

1. They’re distracting.

Remember in the early days of the Internet how people used to use blinking buttons or sound effects to grab your attention? We’re wired to pay attention to things that move and make noise. Homepage sliders do the same thing. Your above-the-fold homepage space shouldn’t feel like a distraction: instead, it should feel like the destination. But the underlying mechanics of the homepage slider are designed to disrupt attention and shift focus from one thing to the next. It’s almost as if, after going out of the way to attract your visitors’ attention, it then breaks it every five seconds. Which is probably why…

2. Your users ignore them.

Here’s a thought for you: Only 1% of visitors will click on your carousel CTA, and the vast majority of those clicks will be on the first slide. Most users scroll right past your homepage slider, either because they are confused and put-off by the rotating images, or because they’ve subconsciously mistaken it for a banner ad. This means that your visitors are passing by your prime, above-the-fold content, which is a waste of that space. Get rid of your slider and put it to better use.

3. Your users think they’re annoying.

We like to feel like we’re in control of our online experience. We want to consume content at our own pace, and in the manner of our choosing. The homepage slider rips the control out of the hands of the consumer. It’s a way of telling the visitor “we don’t care what you want to see, we care about what we want to show you.” This is most egregious in circumstances where the user can’t control what slide they see by clicking back or clicking ahead. Which brings us to…

4. The pacing is wrong.

Too much content, and the visitor can’t finish reading before the slider moves on. Too little content, and the slider feels slow. Want to really drive your visitors crazy? Include a lot of content on one slide, and very little on the next. The pacing can be too fast and too slow at the same time!

5. TMI

An over-crowded home page is one of the biggest turn-offs on most websites. Unfortunately, many people try to get around this by taking some of the homepage content and cramming it into a slider. This isn’t actually editing down your content as finding a sneaky way to include it elsewhere. Don’t go down this road. That carousel is just going to add clutter and distraction. Clean it up.

6. They aren’t user-friendly.

Yes, it’s your carousel, but you may have noticed a lot of difficulties getting it to look as great as you want it to. You load up an image, and it’s distorted or grainy. Or the text overlay doesn’t show up very well, or appears over someone’s face. Furthermore, making sure these factors all work well for mobile is an extra challenge. A good web designer can handle all these things best on a static site, but bringing them in for every element of your homepage slider ads to the cost and time it takes to maintain your carousel.

7. They speak to too many audiences at once.

We’ve talked in the past about cultivating personas so that you can more effectively target your ideal customers. Incorporating these different personas into your website can be difficult, particularly if you have to address fairly distinct audiences. There are ways to do this, but your carousel isn’t one of them. Most people will only see whatever your first slide is, and those who stay to see more will feel confused and disoriented by the mixed messaging.

8. It reduces accessibility.

Many people don’t stop to think carefully about how an auto-forwarding slider affects accessibility. But what if you have difficulty with motor control, and can’t quickly navigate back to a slide that was important to you? Or you could be a slow reader due to your age, literacy level, or English being your second language. No matter the scenario, a carousel hinders your ability to access a website. You wouldn’t want to be treated this way, so don’t do it to your visitors.

9. They don’t convert.

After all these examples, it should no longer be surprising that carousels turn visitors away and fail your key conversion metrics. The barrage of messaging, CTAs, and irritating mechanics drive your users either to other areas of your site, or away from your business entirely.

10. They’re hard to test.

We like testing sites for usability. And we can certain test to see if sites do or don’t have a slider. But it’s harder to figure out what element of a slider is or isn’t working because of its moving parts. After all, the best way to conduct testing is to only change one variable at a time, but the homepage slider affects several variables at once.

Want a case-in-point?

Check out http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ to have all your homepage slider buttons pushed all at once. Notice how at the beginning of the carousel, the short sentences make it feel too slow. As it continues, the amount of text and density of information go up. Suddenly, even though the carousel is moving at the same speed, it’s now removing key information before you’ve had time to finish reading. You can click back to finish reading a slide, but the carousel will continue to interrupt you. I had to click back 4­–5 times to finish reading some of them, and the inclusion of even just one or two statistics made it harder for me to fully absorb the information.

Happily, ditching your homepage slider is something you can do right now while you pull together time and attention for a more thorough re-design: simply get into the backend of your CMS, and get rid of all the slides but one. There you go. Problem fixed… for now. If your slider used to be a full-bleed image, you might be OK for the time being. But it’s more than likely that you’ll want to redesign your home page to make better use of that space. If you want a web design that converts, contact us for a more thorough redesign.

Published 05/30/17 by Laura Lynch