Sliders are very popular given their practical advantages. If you don’t know what a slider is they are usually shown at the top of the home page and consist of lots of panels which usually scroll or slide automatically. Marketers use them a lot because they are visually engaging, but also because they give you the chance to feature several offers or messages.
Also, they are an excellent way to save space and to avoid long and unreadable pages.
However, they are also known for having a lot of usability issues.
From a usability and conversion optimisation point of view, sliders are bad for many reasons:
- They are the usability equivalent of “whack a mole”, fast moving sliders prevent users from reading at their own pace: the human eye reacts to movements and will miss important content.
- To avoid any friction, your visitors need to be in control of what they read. Sliders don’t respect best UX practice as they move too quickly and users don’t usually have control.
- Too many panels. The amount of time I’ve seen lots of panels within a slider. Visitors spend seconds on your page and they won’t wait to watch all the sliders go around and sit patiently to view them – you will be lucky if they see two.
- Too much content. If you crowd your sliders with content and make them really content heavy (or the text too small) you make the usability worse.
- Small sliders on mobile are truly awful. So cross device comes into play and creates an extra headache.
4 WAYS TO IMPROVE SLIDERS
1) Don’t use them
Ideally you wouldn’t use sliders at all; a lot of the time sliders are used in response to the fact that you don’t know your audience, you don’t understand what’s important to them, and you are effectively using a “scatter gun” approach to your messages i.e. if we get everything in the slider then that means we have a greater chance to sell to them. But let’s work on the fact (for whatever reason) you have to use them, here’s how you improve them:
2) Use the minimum number of panels possible
Approach your sliders in a strategic way and really understand the most important messages to your visitors. This means really reviewing the messages on your site and thinking about the decision-making hierarchy i.e. what is the most important message to inform the buying process. Spoiler: you can also attain this information through split testing the website i.e. sending 50% of the traffic to one version of the home page and 50% to the new reduced version of the slider on the home page.
3) Make navigation obvious
Radio buttons are a popular design element of the sliders. However, if they aren’t prominent enough users are likely to miss them. Making the navigation obvious is paramount to avoid content blindness. You can for example use clear « previous » and « next » buttons, show the number of slides available, or you can use a slider gallery below the slider that would help visitors to select the one they want to see.
4) Declutter your slides
Keep the slide as clear as possible, with short easy to understand sentences. It is wise to think about your slider like a billboard – you wouldn’t put lots of information on a motorway billboard as drivers spend seconds reading it. It’s the same for your slider. Keep it visual with short compelling messages and clear meaningful calls to action.
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