I’m pretty sure that by now we’ve all seen our fair share of sliders on websites. But just in case you’ve been living on an island with no internet access, a slider is a series of rotating images, sometimes with links, that appear (usually) at the top of the site.
Most of my clients ask for a slider on their site – but not all of them need one and in some cases a slider will actually detract from the purpose of the site.
Let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of Sliders:
- The first and most obvious benefit of having a slider on the site is that it can display a lot of information in a small area. (This is why they are almost always on the homepage, which is generally the first stop for visitors to the site.)
- Visual engagement through a slider can capture the visitor’s interest, and when links are attached, can be useful for drawing the visitor deeper into the site.
- Sliders are particularly good for showcasing a gallery of images, such as a portfolio.
- They are also useful to represent various departments or services within a company.
- If the images are set up in a linear sequence, a slider can be very effective in telling a story, as it moves the user through the images in a specific order.
- One big drawback to a slider is that they often hide content. Not just by taking up so much space, but because people don’t take the time to view every slide and read the text. As a result content contained within a slider is often missed.
- There is a new and interesting trend, called “banner blindness”. Basically this means that visitors to a website will have a tendency to avoid or ignore anything that looks like advertising. So if you place your CTA (Call To Action) in a slider, it may be ignored or discounted.
- The speed of the slider is a tricky thing to get right. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to wait for an image to change if it does not contain information of interest to you. Equally frustrating is to have to wait for something of interest that zipped by before you were finished with it.
- There can also be an accessibility issue with sliders, as screen readers often cannot cope with the speeds at which they operate, even on the rare occasion when there is alternate text specified.
So basically it comes down to the type of project as to whether a slider is appropriate for the site. The designer should consider what the site is for, what devices the majority of users will be using to visit the site, and the usability issues this may add to the site. Ask questions, such as: what are the client’s goals? What are they trying to do with the site; inform, sell, educate? Is the a slider an appropriate way to communicate the goals of the site? What are the alternatives?