should i use sliders or carousels

Sliders suck and
should be banned from your website

Sliders suck and should be banned from your website

March 28th, 2017 – 40 Comments

Two years ago, we wrote about why we really don’t like sliders. We still don’t like sliders. If your theme forces you to include a slider (also named carousels) on your homepage, please realize that it’s making you use a feature that has no value for SEO. A feature that is probably slowing down your site by loading extra JavaScript. And prevents your user from reading the good stuff (your content) immediately. It will most probably account for less conversion as well.bann

Even though both SEO experts and conversion experts agree on the fact that sliders have little use 99% of the time, website developers insist on adding sliders to their themes. Some customers refer to sliderless themes as “outdated” but we strongly disagree. Let’s make one thing very clear: sliders suck. Of course, I entitle myself to my own opinion, and you’re entitled to yours. But let me explain once more why they suck.

Science and experiments

It’s not often that science is conclusive in their findings. However, sliders seem to be one topic on which it is. There’s literally not one study that we’ve found that says sliders are a good idea. I often point people to shouldiuseacarousel.com when wanting to explain why not to use a slider. This simple website does an awesome job at showing the statistics as well as trigger the annoyance sliders usually evoke.

Sliders: better use static images or copy

Let’s look at some of the findings:

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, many studies have shown that sliders should be avoided.

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But… I need a slider!

Ok, so you’re, for instance, a photographer. You need that slider, right? Wrong. People tend to act as if there’s no other way to show their images but by sliders. This simply isn’t true. If you can’t have a slider and you’re a photographer, would you just give up having a website altogether? Of course not, you would look for other options, such as the revolutionary idea of showing static pictures. If you want moving pictures, you should change careers and become a filmmaker.

Seriously, whatever makes people think that having stuff move on your website is a good idea, ever, is still beyond me. Auto-playing videos are also annoying, right? You can create awesome collages through which people can browse at will. The pictures won’t be forced onto them (if they even notice them in the first place), they’ll just notice the ones they like. And trust me, that will sell better.

If you’re a photographer, it’s likely you’re a creative person. You probably make photo albums for people from time to time, which presumably don’t have sliding images. So how about you showcase that skill and creativity by designing your web pages with static images?

Focus

What you’re saying with a slider is basically: “I really don’t know which product or picture I should put on display on my homepage, so I’ll just grab 10 of them!” In that case, you really need to add focus. If you don’t know what to choose, how would your visitors or clients?
You should know what your own business is about and what product or picture deserves that front page spotlight.

By focusing on the right (static) image or message, you will give people a far better feel of your business, and you as a person, than a slider ever could. Not in the least because sliders, as we’ve said twice now, are simply ignored in most cases. And a message that’s ignored hardly ever comes across (notice the sarcasm).

SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization

There is another reason why we recommend against sliders. Sliders push down your main content, plain and simple. In fact, most sliders we encounter in our consultancy these days, are big enough to fill out any screen. This means the content won’t even be visible above the fold. And this backfires on your SEO efforts, which we’ve already shown through the article linked in the list of findings above.

There’s not a CRO expert that will disagree with us on this: sliders kill your conversions. So simply having a slider on your website, will get you less sales than without that slider! If that’s not a deal breaker, I seriously don’t know what is.

Just combine the two and realize what a monstrosity the slider actually is. It kills your rankings and your conversions!

Mobile websites and sliders

It’s really convenient to include a slider on a mobile website. It allows you to add more content to that page, that smaller screen, without the page becoming too long. What if people have to scroll, right? Well, quite frankly, they are used to that. That’s just one myth you can forget about. It’s not just that. Lots of times, things go wrong when using a slider on a mobile website. Some of the other pitfalls you’ll encounter when adding a slider to a mobile website:

  • Image sliders tend to load the desktop site images, not optimized for mobile speed or in fact ruining it for phones on 3g or less.
  • The same goes for sliders running on JavaScript. Why add JavaScript for something people will treat as a banner or simply skip to get to your content instead?
  • If your slider isn’t responsive, it will ruin your otherwise responsive website. This happens all too often, unfortunately.

Bottom line is that sliders might break more than they add in value for your website. But the main question you should ask yourself when using that slider on your mobile website, even if it’s responsive and optimized, is: do I really need that slider? I can’t imagine you do.

Why should you believe us?

If you don’t believe us, believe these experts who we’ve asked for their opinion and experience with sliders:

Sliders never converted and never will

“Sliders only exist because web designers love them. And because they make the life of the web team easy: they can give every department or product division a place on the homepage. And they don’t have to make choices.

But it’s not your job to make your colleagues happy. It’s your job to make your visitors happy. And to sell.
And that’s the biggest problem with sliders: they don’t convert. Never did and never will.”

Karl Gilis, Owner of AG Consult and renowned conversion expert

Use static images and copy instead

“It’s extremely rare to see sliders work. You’re better off using static images and copy.”

Peep Laja, Owner of ConversionXL.com and Markitekt


Just for portfolio displays

“I think sliders are interesting but somewhat problematic. The biggest problem I see is that if visitors are bouncing from the page in a second or two, they will never see the other options on the slider. If you use a slider for navigation, be sure the same choices are visible in static form, too. I think sliders work best for portfolio displays where several large, strong images can be displayed in the same space without impeding the visitor’s ability to navigate or determine what other content is on the site.”

Roger Dooley, Author of Brainfluence (also available on Kindle) and owner of Neurosciencemarketing.com


Sliders are distracting

“I think sliders are distracting. It’s a way to put extra crap on a page that’s typically not best for visitors. If it’s important in most cases you should just put it on the page without sliders or extra clicks.”

Hiten Shah, Co-Founder of Crazyegg and KISSMetrics


Sliders suck 99.8% of the time

“Sliders suck 99.8% of the time! We once did a test with a client where we changed their slider to a static image with 3 core benefits and lifted conversions by a nice amount.”

Bryan Eisenberg, Author of Brand Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark (also available on Kindle)


Sliders are evil

“This popular design element is – for many – the go-to solution when there are more messages to put on the home page than there is room to put them. Rather than make the tough decisions that require prioritizing conversion goals, web teams turn to the rotating banner as an offer of compromise.

Sliders are absolutely evil and should be removed immediately.”

Tim Ash, CEO at SiteTuners, Author of Landing Page Optimization (also available on Kindle)


Use a static image instead

“In A/B tests, sliders tend to lose. In fact, one of the easiest ways to grow a page’s conversion rate is to remove the slider, and to replace it with a static image. If you want to be really lazy, you can just test the slider against the static version of each of the slider’s options. The static version usually wins.”

Karl Blanks, Chairman and Co-Founder of Conversion Rate Experts


Sliders deliver little to no value to the customer

“Sliders please the owner of the site, but they deliver little to no value to the customers. The reason is that we are not going to sit there and wait for your ‘movie’ to play out. I’m also not a fan of sliders because for most businesses they provide an excuse not to think about personalization and being good at giving the customer the right answer, right away.”

Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, Author of Web Analytics 2.0 (Also available on Kindle)


Sliders are hardly accessible

Conversion is one thing, but from an accessibility stand, sliders suck as well. Here’s what our own Andrea has to say about this:

Though there are examples and recommendations to follow to make sliders as accessible as possible, I’ve rarely seen a fully accessible slider being used in production. Sometimes sliders are just not coded with accessibility in mind, sometimes they are but there are so many accessibility requirements to address that missing just a couple of them can be disastrous for accessibility. Interaction with keyboards and assistive technologies is so hard that static content is always preferable. It’s no coincidence that shouldiuseacarousel.com was launched by Jared Smith of WebAIM, one of the most influential and respected organizations committed to spreading out accessibility culture and developing accessible web content.

Andrea Fercia, accessibility expert at Yoast

Honestly, we could go on and on. So no matter how pretty you think sliders are, know this: sliders simply suck

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Epilogue

When we first published our (unchanged) opinion on sliders back in 2014,  UX designer Ian Armstrong commented that “in some cases, sliders make sense. A slider can be used effectively if it a) tells a story and b) doesn’t auto-forward.” Imagine a real estate page that has a slider for images of a house. It’s not auto-forwarding and helps you to get an idea of the entire house – it tells that story.

Ian also states that “if you properly set expectations and really stress the slider as a story mechanism, you’ll probably see a major uptick in interest.” He’s probably right, or, as Rich Page stated below that initial 2014 post: “If in doubt, TEST IT!” Most of us are used to sliders like that on real estate sites. There is always an exception to the rule, right? Although in this specific case, one might even argue if the ‘slider’ even qualifies as a slider.

Your 2 cents are welcome.

Read more: ‘eCommerce usability: the ultimate guide’ »


40 Responses to Sliders suck and should be banned from your website

  1. Jules
    By Jules on 5 April, 2017

    Well said !
    ANY animation not triggered by the User can be, at best distracting, at worst annoying.

    A website greeting me with an auto-slider makes me want to leave immediately.
    If I actually want something from the site, I might scroll down to hide the distracting motion – which creates tension because the site has already made me “work” – potentially for no pay-off.
    (Which also applies to “hero images” – pretty, but pointless screen-fillers.)

    So … a plea …. is there a way for Visitors to stop auto-sliders (in the browser or elsewhere) ?

  2. Michiel Heijmans
    By Michiel Heijmans on 4 April, 2017

    Awesome comment, Gary. I would love to hear your story after testing that slider against a static image. I wonder if that main, first slide gets more clicks if it’s shown separate as a static image instead of in that slider. Thanks in advance for sharing your experience! And feel free to share via email at michiel at yoast dot com if you’d rather not share publicly :)

  3. Gary Taylor
    By Gary Taylor on 3 April, 2017

    Thanks for the great article. I suffered from a bout of nerd rage and wtf?!-ism for a few minutes while reading the article. I struggled with this. It took me a few minutes to digest the information and come back to it more level-headed.

    I went to work reviewing two websites I’ve built for different clients. One website, palomarmodular.com, uses the sliders more strategically with the companys’ value proposition, and links to the two most visited pages on the website. The second website, guard-all.com, uses the slider as a product presentation, but I now think that perhaps the slides are presented too early in the story that the page tells.

    I dug into the analytics to see what the numbers would tell me. I can see that 2 of the 3 sliders on palomarmodular account for 26% of click-throughs from the home page. The guard-all page has 4 sliders with links which account for 15% of click-throughs. For me I can see that users are utilizing the sliders for navigation.

    I will plan on trying an A/B test with the guard-all website to see if a static header image will perform better than the slider. All in all though, thanks for challenging me. It’s good to look at things from a new perspective sometimes, even if it makes me nerd rage.

  4. Frederik Larsen
    By Frederik Larsen on 31 March, 2017

    I agree. Topheader sliders sucks. Dont use them.
    However we have great experience with “case” sliders, and we constantly monitor it with hotjar’s heatmap, which we have set up to only monitor the slider. Visitors do interact with it, infact average 4 clicks per visitor.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 3 April, 2017

      Could you please post an example? I think I know what you mean, like to see that in action!

  5. Steve Chipman
    By Steve Chipman on 31 March, 2017

    IYO, does the same apply to sliding customer logos, partway down the page?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 31 March, 2017

      Depends. There probably is no practical purpose for that, right? It’s just to show some logos, not for conversion. Although I, as an advertiser, would always want to be the first one in the carousel, as the rest probably gets little attention :) So it relates, but the purpose of that slider is more illustrative for the website, not aimed at selling products.

  6. john parrish
    By john parrish on 30 March, 2017

    how do i know if my site has sliders???? Im gonna buy another seo book, but i just read this. thanks Jwp

  7. Addison Geary
    By Addison Geary on 30 March, 2017

    Photographer here, first WordPress site. Are we only concerned with no sliders on the Home page? I currently have static home page but sliders / carousels for each gallery of images which are grouped by genre. From an SEO standpoint should galleries be static too? I get it that if the first few images don’t grab visitor they may bounce but if they chose to view that gallery chance are better that they will stay.

  8. Russ Michaels
    By Russ Michaels on 30 March, 2017

    So this seems to be directed at sliders which are used for ADS. How about sliders which are just informational, such information about your company and services you provide. Are these equally as as bad and get ignored ?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 30 March, 2017

      Conversion on these is equally bad. Conversion in that case could be clicks to another page, triggering recognition for a product, whatever. Definitely not directed at ads, but at sliders that have no illustrational purpose. For illustrational purposes, like photos of a house on a real estate site, a slider could be an option. There is no conversion goal in that slider and people willingly lose themselves in that round-up of images.

  9. ML_Nederland
    By ML_Nederland on 30 March, 2017

    Don’t you like sliders, or don’t you like sliders on the homepage? Or both?

    • Mirko
      By Mirko on 3 April, 2017

      Hello there,
      I will try to give my 5c about your Google images example:
      Google is not trying to sell anything there, they do not care if you click on image 1 or 5 in a slider.
      Also, home page of Google – http://www.google.com, one that earns them most money, do not have any sliders.

    • ML_Nederland
      By ML_Nederland on 30 March, 2017

      In addition; how old is the research you refer to? Reminds me of people in the 90’s claiming ‘nobody is going to walk around with a cellphone all day long’.

      If you take a look at THE EXPERT in SEO optimization, actually the guys that more or less set the rules – Google – you might want to update your bold opinion: do a Google search on images and what you get at the top of the page is… tadaaa… an image-slider, and to make it worse, it’s a slider with links ;-). And it gest even worse, if you click on an image in the Google image-search result, you get… yup.
      So, you were saying, what exactly?

      • Michiel Heijmans
        By Michiel Heijmans on 30 March, 2017

        LOL. I always smile when people refer to Google in these cases. Where’s the link with SEO or conversion in your example? ;) My opinion stays the same.

        • ML_Nederland
          By ML_Nederland on 30 March, 2017

          What is wrong with refering to Google? And may I remind you yourself refer to Google? (“They push down your content, which is not smart, as Google already mentioned in 2012”).

          Let’s assume that Google does A-B tests on their page. Not a far fetched assumption in my opinion. Now, if you for example do a Google image-search with seach term ‘bird’, you get a page with search results that starts with a slider, and if you click on an image in these search-results, you also get a slider.

          So anyway, fact is, that Google – at this moment – uses sliders on the image search website. Apparently, these sliders passed A/B tests.

          And now you come along claiming;
          “Sliders suck and should be banned from your website”
          “Only 1% of the people actually click on a slide, which almost always was the first slide”
          “Sliders confuse people, as your sending multiple offers they may or may not be interested in at once”
          “People simply ignore your slider, because it triggers banner blindness”
          “On that same note, visitors just don’t get the message because they will skip the messages in your slider as they consider it advertisement or promotions”
          “Sliders don’t always work well on mobile devices”

          So how do you explain that Google uses sliders? Might it be that behaviour evolves and that people are used to sliders nowadays, so that the slider-page passed the A/B test?

          That is why I asked you how old the research you refer to is (referring to what Google mentioned in 2012 does not convince me. Current policy of Google – which is using sliders – does convince me).

          • ML_Nederland
            By ML_Nederland on 31 March, 2017

            I presented you with evidence that does not support the research evidence you quoted ; a website (Google image-search) that is among the most thoroughly A/B tested websites on the web, that atually, as we speak – uses sliders. Sliders, of which you write, only 1% of people will click on, and people get confused by them, banner blindness etc. So your advice is; ban sliders from your website.
            Scientific method consists of trying to DISprove what you think might be true, not to find evidence or expert-statements that support your theory /opinion. Especially in behavioural sciences, you should include the fact that over time, behaviour might evolve. I think the latter is the case; people have become used to sliders. I think the real question /problem is; can technology keep up?
            My first question was, do you think sliders are bad in general (I think not, but you seem to do), or are they bad on (the top) of the front page. I think you might have a point here, for SEO purposes; the technology can’t handle it. But not because ‘sliders are bad and people do not use /understand them’.

            We are not going to convince each other, and I’m not going to troll on you; you may have the last word ;-) Fijn weekend gewenst!

          • Michiel Heijmans
            By Michiel Heijmans on 31 March, 2017

            It’s hard for me to convince you if you are comparing apples and oranges. I wanted to email you to continue this conversation, as it really adds no value to this article (because of the apples and oranges), but I really don’t trust your email address starting with anonieme.x – feel free to email me at michiel [at] yoast.com if you’d like me to elaborate.

  10. Colin Freeman
    By Colin Freeman on 30 March, 2017

    Considering my experience, I can say without a doubt, sliders have much more cons than pros.
    Good article, thanks for sharing this!

  11. Ivo
    By Ivo on 29 March, 2017

    Can you write a similar article on those huge banners that take all the above-the-fold space and pushing content down too? It’s really hard to convince UX.

  12. Pamela
    By Pamela on 29 March, 2017

    Maybe stupid Question.. Is it the same for Gallery-Grid, or Masonry-Grid?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 30 March, 2017

      Different story as you are immediately showing the content that you want to show. However, I’d rather add more focus. So depends a bit on the use, to be honest.

      • Daniel
        By Daniel on 11 April, 2017

        Amazing article and perfectly information !
        I am really appreciate thanks for sharing the best tip it’s extremely useful and helpful !!!!!

  13. ugo
    By ugo on 29 March, 2017

    Hi,

    how’re you?

    I read your article and it’s really interesting. I use the slider revolution plugin on my website. I totally agree with the fact that don’t look well in mobile’s experience. But I use it only in the homepage, to sum up our products.

    Visit my website: http://www.altaico.es

    And please, tell me your opinion about that.

    Thank you in advance.

    Greetings,

    Ugo

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 30 March, 2017

      It’s all about focus. Do you think it’s better to focus on your main product or ‘blur’ your soon-to-be customer with too many options that rotate? I did not find that slider atm, did you remove it already? I do think the current main image is huge and might reduce focus on the text below it. And: make it clickable.

      • Vincenzo Junior
        By Vincenzo Junior on 2 April, 2017

        I agree with Yoast. Since getting rid of the sliders that “suck” on my old web site my SEO has improved a great deal. Plus, yeah I spent so much time wasting thinking which photos should I put in that slider. I have so many celebrities that have endorsed my photographic work and that was becoming the focus of the slide text.
        As a photographer, I agree. Sliders suck!
        Thanks

  14. Luis Johnson
    By Luis Johnson on 29 March, 2017

    Hey Michiel,
    Thanks a ton for one of the amazing post about the sliders. you have explained everything in a magnificient way that every one could understand.

  15. GEM WEBB
    By GEM WEBB on 28 March, 2017

    I am 100% behind this now for my web design and Internet marketing agency. I’ve constantly being reminded of this fact from my main web developer. Fantastic article I can now share with all my clients. I loved your FOCUS point: “What you’re saying with a slider is basically: I really don’t know which product or picture I should put on display on my homepage, so I’ll just grab 10 of them!” In that case, you really need to add focus. If you don’t know what to choose, how would your visitors or clients?”

  16. af2998c30f
    By af2998c30f on 28 March, 2017

    I agree completely, but sadly it not as much the website developers that “insist on adding sliders to their themes” as the clients that demand them. I have tried convincing clients that sliders not only do not work but also slow down the website, but to no avail.

    I have tired to make this obvious by taking a client to a website and giving him some time to check which elements he likes and which he doesn’t. After a few moments he said he likes the slider – I switched to another tab and asked him what was on the slider. He could not tell…

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 30 March, 2017

      Following this article, the client’s decision should be based upon the choice ‘more conversion’ or ‘slider’, I think. We’ll just have to convince them about the conversion part and I hope this article helps a bit :)

  17. David Fisher
    By David Fisher on 28 March, 2017

    Well your slider comments are sure misleading.

    1. we do not use H-Tags in sliders,

    2. we’ve measured page speeds and found them negligibly impacted by sliders (gtmetrix.com),

    3. here is a BIG ONE – clients LOVE eye-candy, they really do – so in the spirit of giving clients what they want and motivating them to LOVE us and pay us, we do sliders, when we have to talk them out of something it is not for esoteric SEO stuff that cannot be immediately observed & measured,

    4. we use image smushing and slider images do not slow down page delivery much at all – in range of less than 1 second along with all the other minify stuff as well,

    5. insofar as negative impact on SEO goes, well, that depends, where were you without the slider and where are you with it???, if you are past organic page results 1-5 then, frankly, so what?

    6. sliders can work in the background and when ghosted back can really add unique design values that our clients LOVE.

    So, in the spirit of: your being an SEO guy is great but SEO is not the only factor at all.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 30 March, 2017

      Thanks for your comment, David. I took the liberty of styling your comment a bit so I can answer to all of your remarks:

      1. Not really know what you mean here, headings are not the holy grail of SEO?

      2. Good job in that case. I think the images and / or JS have a very good chance of slowing down a site unnecessary (as sliders have little use), but glad to see your experience is different. Would like to hear of more cases like that, as I haven’t found one yet. So please share.

      3. Have you read the entire article? Ask your client if he likes sliders more than making money. I am very curious.

      4. See #2.

      5. Just sit down and relax when you are on result 1-5 doesn’t sound like a plan, in a competitive market. Let’s agree to disagree.

      6. Let’s agree to disagree.

      Again, thanks for your comment. It’s an opinion. The people I asked for a quote clearly disagree, so do a lot of the commenters. But I really like that other sound, would love to hear more people with similar experiences like yours.

  18. Giovani Freitas
    By Giovani Freitas on 28 March, 2017

    Hey Michiel,

    I agree so much! The next version of my blog won’t have a slider, I am pretty sure of this. I really think that hero images, with a short message about the company/professional could work better than many messages and images moving and moving…

    Thanks for this post!
    Have a nice day

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 28 March, 2017

      Thanks, Giovani! Agreed!

      • arfan
        By arfan on 29 March, 2017

        Thanks for giving such a great insights about slider uses. One thing more that can we use carousal?

      • Carlo Milan
        By Carlo Milan on 28 March, 2017

        Hey Michiel,
        I agree with you saying that sliders have little use 99% of the time and prevent users from reading the good stuff immediately. That’s why I make a scarce use of them in my magazine (MILAN Magazine). But I’m not sure the slider I’m using, Soliloquy, slows down my site. Please see http://soliloquywp.com/: “Will Solliloquy slow down my website?” “Absolutely not. Soliloquy is carefully built with performance in mind. We have tested it on extremely high traffic websites to ensure that it scales without having any performance issues.”

        • Michiel Heijmans
          By Michiel Heijmans on 31 March, 2017

          Thanks for your addition. Even if the slider app or plugin is fast as lightning, adding huge images will impact speed. So there is always a human factor here as well, right? And please note that speed isn’t the only downside of sliders. They kill conversion as well, as you can read from the quotes on this page. All things considered: don’t use sliders :)

          • Blake Imeson
            By Blake Imeson on 3 April, 2017

            @Michiel – while I agree with most all of this, I have had clients point out that the world’s most successful E-Commerce site, Amazon.com uses sliders quite a bit!

          • Michiel Heijmans
            By Michiel Heijmans on 4 April, 2017

            Hi Blake, thanks for your comment!

            I think step one is that these specific clients should stop comparing their websites to the Googles and Amazons of this world. How is that a valid comparison, right? I think Amazon analyzes every slider over and over. Did you notice some of the sliders slide on demand only (so are basically a hero image / static image) and others slide automatically, showing a tad bit of the next slide already, always with the option to slide back? And in most cases, there is a clear, static call-to-action on that page, next to the slider. That could, for instance, be a list of recommended products. No product page has a slider like that, as it is focused on conversion.
            There is always an exception to the rule, but you can bet on Amazon testing that exception all the time.

            Bottom line: for most of us, that client’s just not Amazon. It’s apples and oranges.


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