One of the frequently requested features I get with a new web site design is adding a cool slider on the home page. There is a desire to have some of the “featured content” rotating on the home page to get more content accessible to site visitors.
A lot of WordPress themes are built with a slider baked into the theme or designed for use with a plugin. Most sliders are setup to slide automatically every few seconds. Most of the ones that I have used for clients have defaults of 4 – 6 seconds. The image will slide or fade from one to the next. Is this actually helping your conversion?
You May Have a Problem
We have been programmed by the amount of online advertising to ignore ads. We are preconditioned to ignore the content on a page that looks like some form of commercial advertising.
Moving objects on a website trigger our anti-advertising radar and we have a tendency to ignore those elements.
The downside to this psychological problem is that your slider now feels like an ad and is being ignored. Exactly the opposite effect you hoped it would have.
Deadly Pitfalls of Automated Sliders
There are several problems that sliders present. The auto forwarding content slider will actually kill your conversions because of the following problems:
- Moving elements reduce accessiblity
- Low-literacy users don’t have time to read the content
- Key user information is only visible a fraction of the time
- They can be annoying and distracting to the user
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
What is the purpose of visitor to you website? Do you run an e-commerce site and want users to funnel toward a purchase? Do you want visitors to opt into to you email list?
What conversion do you want from your users when they land on your page?
If you can’t answer this question, stop reading and solve this problem FIRST!
Conversion killers must be avoided and when you use a slider on your website, you are likely hurting conversion rates.
The Right Way to Slide
There is a right way to use a slider. As is the case with most tools, its about how they are deployed that makes them good or bad.
The primary focus of the slider should be to enhance your users experience. If it does not enhance their experience and move them through the conversion funnel, it is a feature you do not need on your website.
1. Stop the Auto Slide
The most important thing you can do is stop the automation. Use the arrows that are provided and allow users to switch between images at their own pace. If you want people to get the information, then provide them access and make it simple to use.
A slider that is not automated, gives the user time to read the information and determine if it is valuable to there needs. It allows the visitor to maintain more control over their experience and generally makes for a better site visit.
2. Include Slider Navigation
Most sliders come with navigation settings. Whether you provide arrows to slide between the images or use thumbnails, you need to makes sure you have included some way to transition between slides.
3. Consider Static Images
You could ignore the slide function all together and have a single, highly focused image that really promotes your conversion funnel.
Pick a good image that is engaging and communicates your message and keep that on the home page. Let that motivate or encourage users to enter your funnel.
The Science is Right
Let the facts guide your decisions. There are several studies that have been conducted that show the poor quality conversion of image sliders for a website.
[T]he worst offense is probably in making something move that should be static. It’s sad to think that extra money was wasted on jazzing up this design with harmful moving features, rather than just creating simple content that clearly communicates the company’s value proposition. – Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox
Make sure you only use the elements that are going to help your conversions and drive traffic through your sales funnel. If not, it’s just an expensive feature that is of no value to your website.
What do you think? Have you seen sliders work successfully on your website? Share your thoughts in the comments below.