Its time to run this outdated design choice out of town
This week a friend of mine send me a website she was working on asking me for some feedback. I went through the site as I usually do with this kind of request, however one thing stood out and that’s that the site was using a slider in its header. Personally, I don’t like sliders in the header mainly for design reasons; I tend to think they look outdated. I remember adding sliders to my sites all the time when I first got started learning web design, but nowadays I tend to avoid them. When I told her this she asked if sliders had any negative effects on UX or SEO, and this got me thinking. I knew there were some downsides to using sliders but what exactly I didn’t know since I haven’t included one in a design in a long time. Curios I decided to do some research into her question and much to my surprise I found tons of articles on the topic with many of them being strongly against the use of sliders. So, a few articles later and with a better understanding of the topic I popped open word and began writing this article on why you should also avoid sliders.
Sliders cause a loss of focus or banner blindness. This is when users start to ignore images due to them looking to much like advertisements. The last thing you want is to lose your clients attention cause if they lose interest in your site from the start they will leave. But loss of focus doesn’t only apply to your users, it also reflects on you as a business. It creates this image that you don’t know what the most important information is you want to communicate to your users. So Instead you bombard them with tons off different deals, information and images and expecting them to sit through it.
This isn’t going to happen people are impatient they want to find what they are looking for as fast as possible. In fact, it seems that only 1% of users click on sliders and mostly it’s only the first slide. Users tend to scroll past sliders in order to find more direct information. Many sliders also tend to move to quickly making text hard to read thereby overwhelms users or annoying them. Something to keep in mind is that any animation not triggered by the user can be, at best distracting and at worst annoying. Considering this it’s a shame to waste valuable screen space on something users will just ignore anyway.
Losing a user’s interest is one thing but having someone not be able to even find your site, now that’s worse. Which is perhaps the worst part about sliders it’s that they are also bad for SEO. Often many of them consist of heavy code that will increase page load time. Not only that but most sliders tend to generate H1 tags, which is bade for SEO. As for mobile use you might think a slider would be perfect given most phones screen space. Sadly, that’s not the case, not all sliders are responsive and tend to work poorly or not at all on mobile. Sliders on mobile tend to load the desktop version of the images which once again will also slow down page load times. Having a mobile friendly site is very important since as of 2018, Google has begun to rank all sites that aren’t mobile friendly far lower than the ones that are.
Now after reading all of this you’re probably wondering should I still use a slider on my site. Well yes but no. You see all things considered sliders aren’t all bad, IF used properly the key word here being used properly. You must think about if it’s appropriate to use a slider on your page. You should avoid using sliders on your landing page. However, for things like displaying products on a web shop or client testimonials a slider is perfect. Your clients will want to see different versions or angles of the product or read different reviews, and a slider does the job perfectly. Another good example are real estate sites, you want to see the house/apartment from every angle before you contact them. In this scenario a slider is handy. Off course there are some exceptions to the landing page slider rule tough, if designed correctly and if you give the user control over transitions you can pull of a landing page slider. Yet keep in mind the risks of still going for a landing page slider.
I used to not like sliders based purely on design however now I have more in depth understanding of why they should be avoided, and more importantly I hope you do now to. And although there are some exceptions, I think one quote I found by Avinash Kaushik a digital marketer for Google, sums it up best.
“Sliders please the owner of the site, but they deliver little to no value to the customers. 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.”
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