At Big Red SEO we’ve noticed a debate popping up regarding the use of automatic image sliders (also called ‘rotating offers’) in web design. While we see them integrated into all kinds of websites they’re especially popular on ecommerce sites, but recent studies have shown that they may not be the most effective form of on-site advertising.
In fact, automatic sliders may actually be killing those conversions you have been working so hard to get!
Big Red SEO Reveals the Truth About Sliders
If this is true, why are they such a prevalent fixture of web design today? First, there’s the coolness factor—sliders are trendy and they look slick, so many companies decide to use them for these reasons alone, without really thinking about how they’ll work to support the goals of their business. Secondly, sliders allow multiple company departments to showcase their messages in a prime spot, the company homepage.
While this may seem like a good idea on its face, it brings to mind an old saying: “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” Nothing against camels, of course, but when you’re trying to design a horse (that is, a clean, simple, optimally functional site), if you bring in too many messages you’ll end up with a confused version of what you want.
In this post, our Omaha web design team will dig down to the bottom of this controversy and help you understand the positives and negatives of using sliders.
What the Tests Say
Recent studies have shown that while automatic image sliders may look neat and can focus information from different areas of a website into one location, many users simply ignore them. A test by the University of Notre Dame showed that when sliders were used, only the first slide received any clicks, and hardly any at that (only 1%!).
Why is this? As an SEO company that monitors trends, we believe there are a couple of possible reasons. First, many users comment that slides often look like banner advertisements, which people tend to ignore. This tendency is common enough to have its own term, “banner blindness,” in which even a prominent slide advertising your Best Deal on Gizmos in the History of Forever will go unnoticed.
The second reason is more complex, but it has to do with the different messages that are usually put in a revolving slider. Putting different (and sometimes competing) messages into one area leads to a lack of focus, with messages that tend to be aimed at only one particular subset of your potential customer base. For instance, you may be a clothing seller who decides to advertise your sale on jeans in the first slide, but if a visitor doesn’t happen to be looking for jeans at that moment they won’t click through.
The bottom line here is that the more specific the information in the slider is, the less likely it is that it will be the information your visitor is looking for.
So What’s the Verdict on Sliders?
To Big Red SEO it looks like there are more meaningful negatives to using them than positives, so if you do use sliders, our team recommends proceeding thoughtfully and carefully. Think about what you want the slider to accomplish for your business (besides looking cool and being what everyone else is doing) and if you feel there’s a net benefit to them then by all means, don’t let us stop you!
There’s also a more general lesson to be learned from this controversy that can apply to any web design feature, and that is to constantly question popular trends to see if they’re really the right fit for your business. Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in doing what’s cool in web design and end up with a result that falls short of your expectations, so our web design team at Big Red SEO urges you to be thoughtful with every decision you make!
An Alternative to Automatic Image Sliders
In order to avoid some of the pitfalls we’ve mentioned that come with the use of sliders, Big Red SEO suggests you consider using a static image advertisement in its place. This is better for end user experience as it removes the “features” that most tend to irritate (slides that advance too quickly or slowly or move automatically against the user’s wishes, tiny or non-existent navigation icons, etc.). The static image also allows you to focus your viewer’s attention on one site-wide offer which appeals to all visitors and increases the chance that a viewer will respond positively (i.e., by clicking and buying something!).
Contact Our Web Design Team Today at (402) 522-6468!
Our web design and SEO team in Omaha hopes that this guide has helped you make sense of the arguments for and against sliders in web design. Lots of sites use them and they can be effective for certain purposes, but like any other tool there are jobs that they just aren’t suited for. If you have any questions about this post or SEO and web design in general, give our experienced team at Big Red SEO a call today. We’re always happy to help!