Are image sliders good or bad for your website?

Are image sliders good or bad for your website

Let’s face it they are everywhere… I’m sure at some point you have come across many websites containing some type of image rotating slider that promotes some kind of promotional offer right? Well, whilst they are visually stunning and a great way to showcase content, image sliders can also cause nightmares from a web development point of view.

After discussions with our Joe, our web-developer here, I found I was starting to agree with pretty much every argument he had and I found myself asking the question ‘Are website sliders good or bad for your website’? Well after a bit of research, I’m going to have a crack at asking this question from both sides of the argument. I will cover the advantages and disadvantages images sliders bring to your small business website.

Ok, so what is a website slider?

In simple terms a website slider – also known as a rotating carousel or a image slideshow – is typically a collection of slides used to demonstrate multiple visual media content such as promotional branding, content, images or even video. Although when used they are mostly found on the homepage, sliders can be created for landing pages, case-studies or even blog entries. Depending on your website platform, there are many free and paid-for slider extensions that will allow you to create stunning sliders.

Why are images sliders good for your website?

Add Multiple Marketing Messages

When your business needs to cover a lot of multimedia promotional content within a small section, image sliders offer the perfect solution of adding and organizing multiple marketing messages in one easy, convenient location.

By placing image sliders above your standard content, as a business you can promote both multimedia and content based items yet still display your promotional branding in a non-intrusive way. By offering ownership to the visitor of choosing to navigate through image slides or encouraging clicking for further activity such as a product specific promotional offer, click rates will increase.

Visually Stunning

From side-to-side to a full width image carousel, you can’t really argue with the fact that they look visually stunning on a website. Regardless of your industry a image carousel can introduce your website and tell your story allowing you to fit more onto your website by reducing any clutter.

WWF image slider example

WWF use image sliders throughout the website

Why are images sliders bad for your website?

SEO Issues

The majority of all good web development agencies will always encourage good SEO practice. However, if you dive a little deeper into how sliders are constructed, they can start to become a real headache with conflicting SEO issues.

In most cases, the text you see inside a slider is usually wrapped inside a H1 Tag. Although this may not mean much to you, H1 Tags are typically this biggest font size you will see on a website page and search engines encourage you to only have one H1 tag per page. If you happen to have numerous sliders containing numerous H1 tags, the header changes with the carousel so search engines crawling your website will never truly get full understanding of your content.

As with any website, the more complex it becomes, the slower the page loading speed will be which is again bad SEO practice. For photographer websites in particular, you will most likely come across full-width image carousels packed with high resolution images showcasing their portfolio. Not all image sliders are always mobile friendly which again is a big disadvantage in search rankings.

Time Consuming

According to statistics, more than 55% of your audience will spend less than 15 seconds on your website before moving onto a competitor. If you happen to have an image carousel on your homepage, do you think in that time frame you can persuade visitors to view each slide?

For example, let’s say you have an image carousel containing 5 images. Each will have a timeframe to appear of let’s say 4 seconds with a further second to allow the sliders to slide in and out and load any effects. Any new visitors to your website is going to have to spend at least 25 seconds to account for reading every slide and that’s not even viewing anything else on the home page.

Poor Click Conversion Rate

Following a survey conducted by Erik Runyon of 84% of the first slide to appear on the image carousel, only 1% of the people actually click on the slide. If you are looking to use an image carousel as a landing advertisement, do you think it’s really worth it for 1%?

website banner eye trackerLargely Ignored

Historically, within 15 seconds, the human brain is largely very good at quickly scanning and identifying the more important parts of the website that should appear to them. Within this time frame, visitors have usually made up their minds about potentially returning to your website.

As you can see from the image above, this eye tracking example shows how humans interact with a typical webpage containing an image slider. As you can see, hear the human eye has simply skipped and avoided any image carousel within the time period largely due to perceiving the sliders as banner advertisements.

Credit: Beantin

Website Slider Summary

In all honesty, image carousels continue to split opinions within the web development industry. Although platforms such as WordPress now offer much more flexibility from an SEO standpoint, if you compromise by limiting your brand marketing, you are far less likely to alienate your target audience and still capitalise on click through rates. By only adding slides you really need, you can start to suggest more content to users as chances are if they are on the journey of viewing every slide, they are likely to spend more time on your website.