As a general rule, we are not fans of Sliders, also known as Carousels. This is for a number of reasons.
But why? They show lots of info in one place, and are kind of interactive to the user. The kind of slider we refer to is the big hero slider you sometimes see at the top of pages. We are not referring to those for logos, or testimonials, or even galleries. These sometimes work.
Some companies like them, as they look funky, adds more content to a page, without taking up vertical space, and gives the user something to ‘slide across’. From a Design and SEO point of view however, they are pretty bad news, and don’t just take our word for it. Yoast SEO, WordPress’s own SEO plugin forum really dislikes them.
This comes from the Yoast SEO forum on such matter: “Even though both SEO experts and conversion experts agree on the fact that sliders have little use 99% of the time, wordpress developers insist on adding sliders to their themes. Some customers refer to sliderless themes as “outdated” but we strongly disagree“.
And so do we, at 79DESIGN.
A slider image tends to be approximately 1500-2300 pixels wide, and at least 500px tall. On average, this is around 250-550kbs. Sometimes over 1mb if the image is detailed or unoptimized. For a slider to be “effective”, you need at least three (else what’s the point of it?). So your opening page (before you see any important text), is going to be at least 850kb-1.3mb. Not good!!
You might not have SEO on your mind, and don’t care about that, in which case it really doesn’t matter. But if like the vast majority of customers, you want to be found, then it’s a priority consideration.
There was a time when most big ecommerce websites had sliders, such as John Lewis, Debenhams and so on. These days, they don’t. People want to “get to it”, rather than be pushed and prodded with promos. They usually know what they want, or are browsing in the Jeans, or the Electronics.
Just 1% of people click on the sliders as they go through them. And possibly fewer even ‘swipe through’.
They genuinely do slow down your website. Here is a great article on the fact: https://searchengineland.com/homepage-sliders-are-bad-for-seo-usability-163496
We always try to do what the customer wants. Even if it does have a negative SEO impact. We advise, and they make it how they want it. After all, the customer is right. But it’s best we inform them, so they know that if we do this, why their SEO may drop.
We are big fans of ‘hero images’. These are the big ones you see at the top of a page, perhaps with a slogan over it. That tells a story, with some clear text and perhaps a Call to Action button or phone number. Done right, this can be more attractive than a slider, grabs their attention more (as it stays put), and can be beautifully response on all devices.
But I really really want a slider….
Some people believe there is no other way to achieve their effect, other than with a slider.
People tend to act as if there’s no other way to show their images but by sliders. It isn’t true. If you can’t have a slider and you’re a photographer, would you just give up having a website altogether? Of course not, you would look for other options, such as showing beautifully shot static pictures. Maybe a grid gallery, or a layered gallery with text around it, to REALLY show them off. That’s a more modern way of showing this content, and it is all viewable and clickable straight away.
SEO and Conversion Rate Optimisation
There is another reason why we do not recommend sliders – and in fact guide people away from them.
Sliders, because of their size and height, push down your main content, simple as that. In fact, most sliders we come across are big enough to fill out any screen. This means the vital ‘seo’ content won’t even be visible above the fold (you have to scroll to see it). This backfires on your SEO efforts, which we’ve already shown through the article linked in the list of findings above.
If you walked into a John Lewis store looking for Kettles, and there was a sign there as a promo for something else, you would walk past it. But if there was a big sign, and then another, and then another… you would start to get a bit irritated. “I just want to look for kettles”. And all this before you have even been welcomed to the store, or seen a kettle.
Don’t let things get in the way of your customer finding out what you do, or what they are looking for.
Another example: you are a local Plumber. So you have nice clear links on your homepage to Boiler Servicing, Boiler Maintenance, Bathroom fittings, New Taps, Fixing and Repairs… The key stuff.
But before all that, there are 4 huge image. One for a new bathroom idea, and two or three others unrelated to what you want. So what does the reader do, scroll down to find what you do (as the opening sliders might not even hint that you are a plumber! Do they go to your menu, scroll down, or look thru the slides. Chance are they will think “I’ve no idea what this is..” and ‘Back’ to the search screen.
If your opening screen was perhaps you with your vehicle, or someone fixing a tap, and “Local Plumber for your town, for taps and boilers”, the reader immediately knows what you do. And just below the might see some welcome text and info with one being exactly what you want “Boiler Repairs”.
As Steve Jobs said about the iPhone: “It just works”. Get to a page, and if you immediately know what they are, and what they can do for you, it’s a winner. If you get there are you are overwhelmed by big images, slogans and slides… it can be “what’s all this??”.
To you, the site owner, it probably looks amazing, and indeed if we did it, it definitely would. But does it bring the customer right to the matter of what you do? Or are you hiding 4-6 image of information, that you might like them to see straight away.
And are you happy for them to be loading up around 3-4MB of images……… that they might never see?
Food for thought.