Turns out, I was wrong about sliders

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article titled 8 best grid websites, and followed it up with Nice WordPress themes for a grid a few days later.

While I still love the FrancoGrid website and think it looks great, it turns out I was very, very wrong about one thing.

That slider at the top of many websites? Turns out, it doesn’t work.

A slider — also known as a slideshow, or photo carousel — is a way to rotate different pictures or other types of content automatically. You can showcase multiple destinations, events, or special offers in one place.

The FrancoGrid website. The images are gorgeous, but nobody can see them if they move automatically.

The FrancoGrid website. The images are gorgeous, but nobody can see them if they move automatically.

Except for one thing.

They don’t work.

According to this article on the ConversionXL blog, sliders don’t work, they never work, and they waste a bunch of space on your website that could have been spent doing something actually useful.

The article — very much well worth reading — quotes a whole bunch of usability experts and tests. It turns out that people completely ignore sliders. Anything that moves on a website is automatically ignored. Visitors just scroll down to find the meat. Nobody reads the slides. Nobody clicks on them. The only people who benefit from them are the ones who designed the website and can point to it and say, “Oooh, look how pretty that is.”

So, my new recommendation is: instead of automatically rotating slideshows, use manually-activated sliders to showcase images of your grid. If people have to click the right arrow to see the next slide, they’ll actually pay attention to what’s on it. Another option is to show a grid of scaled-down thumbnails that visitors can click on to see the entire image.

Or, better yet, use the space for your top call-to-action.

I’m in the process of rethinking the design of Hypergrid Business, and I will definitely be keeping this information in mind. And will need to start my search for templates over again from scratch — all my favorites have automatic sliders on them!


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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

3 Responses

  1. vr@shadowypools.co.uk' KeithSelmes says:

    absolutely right.
    glad someone realised.
    It’s not so much that I ignore auto sliders, it’s actually worse – they’re really frustrating because you can’t see the picture you want to see.
    Whereas the click sliders let you do what you want to do.

  2. lmpierce@alcancemas.com' lmpierce says:

    Except that the implementation used by the Franco grid is entirely appropriate. They are not presenting a priority message or a variety of offers in their automated slide show. Rather, the presentation is analogous to a movie trailer, showing a variety of destinations showcased to generate interest. And movie trailers do function as a call to action by compelling future engagement, although they are not under user control whatsoever.

    My experience is that there are only a few universals in design. The real challenge is to align the appropriate experience to the needs of the audience and the goals of the content provider. Misalignment does not mean uselessness, just inappropriateness. Sweeping generalizations such as, “anything that moves is automatically ignored” are not universally accurate or necessarily valid in a specific circumstance. The question should always be, “Under what circumstances and form of implementation?” and then it makes senses to draw conclusions.

    I do agree that rapidly changing images with offers on a retail website are probably ineffective. But then, I can’t imagine that was ever a design consideration for Hypergrid Business.

    • I guess it all depends on what your goals are for a site. FrancoGrid is a non-profit, and the buttons they have up — to create an account, etc… — meet their needs.

      For a commercial grid, I’d recommend replacing the slider with either a manually-operated slideshow or, better yet, use the space for something that actually brings people to the grid. Such as posters for upcoming events or grand openings or land sales.