Although we have been saying for more than 15 years that a slider or carousel on your website is a bad idea in 2020, we still encounter it very often. The moving images may look nice, but you will miss out on a lot of visitors and income. In this article we prove once and for all that most sliders suck and that there are only a few exceptions to this rule!
What is a slider?
A slider, also referred to as a slideshow or carousel is a rotating banner on the homepage or another page of your website. It’s often an automatic slide show where a new banner or photo appears every few seconds. There are also sliders where the visitor must click to go to the next image.
Sliders cost your company a handful of money
And we’re not talking about the money you spend on making a slider. Although that is also wasted money.
We are talking about the sales and income that you are missing because you have such a slider.
Because a carousel guarantees:
- Less commitment
- Fewer clicks
- Fewer leads
- Less sales
We have known this since 2002. We then said “Avoid zones with constantly changing content”. We didn’t have a word for it yet, but we already saw during user testing that sliders didn’t work.
And yet they still occur frequently. And sites with slideshows are still being made.
We don’t understand that.
The main reason why sliders are a bad idea
Website visitors have no patience.
Example, we just saw a site with a slider with 6 messages.
Each slide is on screen for 3 to 4 seconds. This means that the website expects its visitors to spend up to 24 seconds to view that part of the homepage.
Dream on, baby!
That’s not how the internet works. No visitor has that much patience.
Almost all clicks on the 1st slide
This lack of patience is also apparent from a study by an American university. They had a slider with 5 images and found that 80 to 90% of the clicks happen on the 1st slide.
Then of course you have to ask yourself why you make the effort to make 5 slides.
But what is the alternative for those slideshows?
How can you use that space in a better way than via a carousel website?
Are there tests that prove that slideshows are really a bad idea?
That is a bit of the problem. Few concrete cases have been published about slideshows.
But there are many experts who clearly state how bad they are.
- According to usability guru Jakob Nielsen, carousels are annoying and are ignored by visitors
- Optimization specialist Chris Goward lists all the negatives in his article about rotating banners
- SEO expert Yoast says that sliders are bad for SEO and your turnover. Well, if Yoast says that then you know it’s true, isn’t it?
There is even a nice parody website and its name is: shouldiuseacarousel.com
Nice. But where is the proof?
Well, we have hard figures for you and here they come:
AB test for Suzuki: static banners get more clicks than a carousel
At Suzuki we tested it. The company has been relying on our expertise in conversion optimization for almost 10 years. We provide them with more leads, more quotation requests, more bookings of test drives and more sales based on data, user research and AB testing.
On the Suzuki home page there was a carousel with 4 different messages. Each slide was graphically worked out. And under each slide there was an extra sentence as call-to-action.
Test 1: no slider but static banners
In this version we dropped the carousel and replaced it with 4 static images. The images and inscriptions of those images were the same as those in the carousel, only slightly smaller.
The screen area that these 4 images occupied was exactly the same as the slider.
28% more clicks. So 28% more people clicked on one of the messages if they were shown simultaneously instead of in a slideshow presentation.
Test 2: No 4 but only 2 messages
Is less more? We wanted to know that.
That is why in a 2nd test we only had 2 static images instead of 4. These 2 messages took exactly as much space on the homepage as the original carousel with 4 images.
Half of the visitors were shown the version with slideshow, the other half the static version. And that in the same time period. Because that is the essence of an AB test.
We only had 2 static images here. Just like in variant A, the images took up exactly as much space on the homepage as the original carousel.
54% more clicks.
It is clear: Promotions in a carousel or slideshow receive fewer clicks than the same promotions as static banners.
In other words: much more is clicked on 2 static banners than on 4 large slides in a carousel. And also more than on 4 static messages. Again proof of “less is more”.
AB test at USA Made Products: 75% more sales without website slider
We also tested sliders a long time ago on the website of USA Made Products. This children’s furniture specialist had a slideshow on its home page with no fewer than 13 different messages.
Down with that carousel!
What does work? We examined the expectations of visitors of the homepage. We discovered that they were not looking for individual products but for product categories.
That is why we did an AB test where we put the most popular product categories on the homepage instead of the carousel.
And the result was incredible!
The result after deleting the image slider?
188% more people click through from the homepage to the next page.
But even more important: 75% of all people who came in via the homepage made a purchase. So there is sufficient evidence that slideshows are a bad idea.
Why do so many sliders still exist?
We see 3 reasons.
1. Sliders are fun to make
It is a terrible observation, but unfortunately there are still designers and agencies who mainly make what they themselves find nice and beautiful. Regardless of what is good for their customers.
2. Carousels are nice to have
Many companies and marketers love frills on their website. If it doesn’t move, they find it boring. Unfortunately, that is still how people often make decisions about their own website: they want to find it cool and hip.
They do not realize that they miss out on income. They do not notice that toppers such as Bol.com, Google, Coolblue and Booking.com have no sliders.
3. Ideal way to make more people happy internally
Because thanks to a carousel you can give more business units or departments a nice place on the homepage. Nice above the fold line. And so as a marketer, webmaster or web designer you are the hero of the company.
The fact that the company ignores daily turnover reduction is only a minor side effect. As long as the heads of department are happy.
Who told the web designer that the goal of a website is to make the company’s colleagues happy? A website must yield as much as possible for its owner(s) and must therefore make visitors happy.
What should be on your homepage?
The correct answer is: what your visitors expect. That means that you have to investigate what the top questions of your visitors are.
For this we have developed our top questions survey method. More than 100 companies and government agencies have already used this method to make their website better and to deliver more. Because we can tell them what the expectations of their visitors are.
Are sliders really always a bad idea?
No, but sliders with different messages that people have to click on are.
On the other hand, what is possible is a pure photo slider. For example a slider on a product page, in which you show different photos of your product. A slide show that requires little interaction with your visitor. Okay, now you understand why, in most cases, a slider on your website is a bad idea in 2020.