Sliders: Not the promised land

I was recently given my own 'Hunger Games' style nickname at the office: The Girl Who Hates Sliders. (Don't worry, nicknames and competition for the last cookie is the closest our office gets to a dystopian novel.)


Our clients often ask for sliders and I don't blame them. When I first started web design I thought they were a miracle solution. Here's what people think they're getting:

  • Expanded room for content - why make decisions, there's room for everything!
  • Modern looking - they're sleek and all my favourite websites have them
  • Interactive and dynamic - they spice up a boring page


No wonder you see these sliders everywhere. Sliders, by the way are also known as carousels and sometimes slideshows. Check out if you don't know what they are.


Here at Raised Eyebrow we know the web is about more than (just) looking cool. We make sites for people and it's important to us that people can use them. So when research started coming out about sliders I put on my librarian hat and dove in. 


The results aren't good.


Sliders are often the result of an organization having trouble deciding what should be featured on the homepage and thinking this let's everyone's content have a turn to be seen. The opposite is true. Many users have started to see sliders as banner ads and simply ignore them. In user testing, users were unable to find special deals that were featured as the first slide on a slider. Other tests back this data up. For example, the testing of several Notre Dame sites and their sliders. Only 1% of visitors clicked on the slider and of those, approximately 84% clicked on the first slider position only. 


Sliders take up a large amount of real estate on a site and often house the most important pieces of content to highlight and direct users towards. The research shows that, generally, that space can be much better used and that content can be shown with stronger calls to action.


Does that mean that we'll never ever use a carousel? Definitely not. Sometimes it's an organizational reality that you need one. There are situations where your content might be particularly suited to a carousel. They can be part of a marketing strategy. We make sites to suit the particular needs of our clients, their content, and their audience and we don't do cookie-cutter sites. We'd love to talk to you about your needs.


But be prepared that we might tell you a slider isn't the right fit for you!