Nobody Uses Sliders: 5 Reasons to Skip the Slider on your Website Build

1. Slider scripts are often resource-intensive

Most ‘out of the box’ slider plugins for WordPress require several JavaScript and CSS files to work. While there’s nothing wrong with adding JavaScript and CSS files to a site – most of the web would be pretty boring without them – this is usually on top of layer upon layer of other plugins, themes and 3rd party resources.

Google announced in May 2021 that Core Web Vitals are being used as ranking signals. ‘Web Vitals’ is an initiative from Google to provide guidance for ‘quality signals’ that it believes are important to delivering the best possible user experience for customers, and Core Web Vitals are a subset of these that Google states “should be measured by all site owners”. The current Core Web Vitals focus on three elements (Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift) and loading excess JavaScript and CSS resources can impact both Largest Contentful Paint and First Input Delay scores. In addition to that, most sliders work by loading and then hiding content within slides, which can increase Cumulative Layout Shift.

2. Motion-based effects can make your visitors feel sick

Automatic / rotating sliders and carousels make the browsing experience worse for those with physical, neurological and development disorders or conditions.

The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) tells us that the impact of unnecessary animation or motion on a web page can trigger those with vestibular disorders to suffer from “nausea, migraine headaches, and potentially needing bed rest to recover”.

In addition to physical symptoms, the WCAG advises:

“Content that moves or auto-updates can be a barrier to anyone who has trouble reading stationary text quickly” and that “Moving content can also be a severe distraction for some people. Certain groups, particularly those with attention deficit disorders, find blinking content distracting, making it difficult for them to concentrate on other parts of the Web page.”

WCAG Pause, Stop, Hide

One epidemiological study estimates that as many as 35% adults aged 40 years or older in the United States have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction (source) and the prevalence of attention deficit disorders in adults is estimated as between 3-6% (with many adults undiagnosed).

That’s a combined total of over 40% of visitors who may be impacted by moving, distracting content on your website.

3. Sliders and carousels are affected by ‘banner blindness’

Banner blindness is the term used to describe a certain well known behaviour whereby potential customers scroll past items on a page that they perceive (correctly or incorrectly) to be advertising banners. This behaviour is unsurprising in an age where even big name websites constantly bombard customers with info windows and banner advertising.

Carousels are not immune from this ‘blindness’ behaviour, with one user of UX Stack Overflow stating:

Almost all of the testing I’ve managed has proven that content delivered via carousels are missed by most users. Few interact with them and many comment that they look like adverts — we’ve witnessed the banner blindness concept in full effect.

Adam Fellowes

4. It’s a waste of prime real-estate

For many years, web designers (and many, many clients) believed that all important content should be “above the fold” – that is, content that is visible in the browser when a page first loads.

Fortunately, we seem to have grown out of cramming everything into the top 600+ pixels of a web page, but the Nielsen Norman Group think the page fold still matters. They state that “Users do scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough.” NNG also state:

[..] in an analysis of 57,453 eyetracking fixations, we found that there was a dramatic drop-off in user attention at the position of the page fold. Elements above the fold were seen more than elements below the fold: the 100 pixels just above the fold were viewed 102% more than the 100 pixels just below the fold.

The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters

Should we really be wasting this glorious above-the-fold attention-holding space to something that visitors aren’t even seeing?

5. Nobody* uses sliders

* Well, almost nobody.

A study by Erik Runyon conducted a study in January 2013 on Notre Dame University websites showed that between 1.7 and 2.3% of users across three sites clicked on a ‘feature’ (that is, an individual call to action on a carousel slide rotated manually or automatically into view) and that of those users, the vast majority of clicks were on slides in position 1.

Runyon updated those numbers in July 2013 and the data shows much the same trend.

Mårten Angner, an interaction designer, details in a blog post on Conversionista! (in Swedish, but Google Translate works) that A/B testing (testing two different versions of something on random visitors) for an online pet shop showed that:

Only 1.96% of visitors who saw the slider version clicked on it, while as many as 43.03% of visitors to the optimized version clicked on one of the choices in the top image.

Mårten Angner, Conversionista!

So, to summarise, the evidence suggests that:

  • Sliders make our web pages slower
  • Moving content within carousels and sliders can cause adverse reactions
  • Most visitors ignore slides because of “banner blindness”
  • The top part of a page is important, but only 2% of users interact with sliders and carousels, and of those interactions most are on the first slide

In conclusion, I strongly recommend avoiding sliders on your next web build.

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