Why Sliders Make Your Website Suck

Author
Shane Melaugh   246

At the time of this writing, sliders are by far the most widely used design element in WordPress themes and on website homepages in general. Slider plugins for WordPress are being downloaded by the millions and sold by the tens of thousands.

Yet, none of our themes have a slider feature and we don't have a slider plugin. As you can tell from the title, that's no coincidence: sliders (a.k.a. carousels) are bad for your website. If you're currently using a slider on your site, you should get rid of it as soon as possible.

Hard to believe? Keep reading...

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How Widespread Are Sliders Really?

In short, it seems that sliders are EVERYWHERE! As we'll find out further below, it actually depends on where you're looking, but if you're in the market for a new website, auto-forwarding carousels are damn near unavoidable. Here's a simple illustration of what I mean:

This is a gallery of the above-the-fold space on 40 randomly selected (and recent) WordPress themes from some of the major marketplaces.

Out of these 40 examples, only 3 do not feature a large slider as the main element on the homepage.

While it is possible to find new themes that don't feature a huge slider at the top of the homepage, it is certainly a lot easier to find themes with a veritable carousel abundance.

From reviewing customer websites and working with online business owners over the years I can say that image carousels aren't quite as widespread "in the wild" as they are in themes and templates, but they are still a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Sliders: The Proof is in the Pudding

(and there's A LOT of pudding)

At Thrive Themes, we create products with a conversion focus and that's the exact reason why we don't use sliders.

Whatever you may think about how sliders may look pretty or add a dynamic and lively element to your site is irrelevant if the slider doesn't help move your visitors towards your conversion goal.

And as it happens, there's a mountain of data that shows sliders having a negative impact on conversion rates. Here are some highlights:

Here's what some experts in the fields of conversion optimization and usability have to say about rotating carousels:

Adam Fellows

"Almost all the testing I've managed has proven content delivered via carousels to be missed by users. We've witnessed the banner blindness concept in full effect."

James-Royal Lawson

"It gets ignored. It's distracting. It's confusing. It squeezes out relevant content. It slows down your site. It causes global warming."

And, one of my favorite quotes on the matter:

Tim Ash

"Rotating banners are absolutely evil and should be removed immediately."

I could go on. There is an abundance of other articles that combine experience, opinion and raw data and all point to the same conclusion: sliders make your website suck.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Expert opinions and even data aside, I find it very interesting to see who does and doesn't use sliders. Look at websites run by people who are known for a lot of testing and optimization. For example:

WiderFunnel

Conversion optimization service.

Visual Website Optimizer

A/B testing software.

ConversionXL

Conversion optimization blog.

Conversion Rate Experts

Conversion optimization service.

Digital Marketer

Marketing optimization blog.

Optimizely

A/B testing software.

Mixpanel

Analytics & testing software.

Unbounce

Landing pages & A/B testing.

Ramit Sethi's Sites

Known for testing and optimizing a lot.

Basecamp

Known for constantly testing.

Kissmetrics

Software for data driven marketing.

Crowdvert

Conversion optimization service.

All these sites are run by companies and people who live and breath testing and conversion optimization - and not a single slider in sight.

If that doesn't convince you to ditch every last slider on your site, I don't know what will.

Why Do Sliders Suck?

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, I encourage you to read some of the posts I linked to, further above. They include many interesting studies and ideas about what makes sliders such a bad UI element.

In my opinion, one of the most important issues with sliders is easily illustrated with an example like this one:

Look at the example and pay attention to each slide. Read the text that appears and try to understand what's being offered on each slide. As soon as you do this, you'll notice a major problem.

For any one of these slides, one of two things is going to apply: you're either interested in what's on the slide or you aren't.

If you are interested, then the content is whisked away and replaced by something else before you can fully take it in.

If you aren't interested, then you'll probably scroll down before the second slide even appears. Think about it: when's the last time you stared at a web-page for several seconds, even though it contained nothing that caught your attention?

The main culprit that makes sliders and carousels suck is the auto forwarding or automatic rotation.

Hero to the Rescue?

Okay, so if it's the auto-forwarding that makes carousels so bad, is the solution simply to make a slider static?

It's better, but still far from ideal. An example of this is a currently very widespread web design element: the "hero image".

Here's an example of one:

And another one:

This kind of layout was cleverly dubbed a "watermark homepage" in this KISSmetrics post. Its defining feature is a large background image with some text (and possibly a button) overlayed on top of it.

This is visually striking, but whether it's effective or not is a different question. There are two major issues I see with most of these types of layouts:

  1. The image is too generic. Because of the layout, the image almost has to be generic and non-specific. After all, it's a background image. The problem is that unless the image really adds meaning to the page, it's just a waste of space and bandwith. And if the image is highly relevant and specific, then it probably shouldn't be in the background.
  2. It's a full-height image. Typically, the image takes up all of the available above-the-fold space. This pushes all your other content too far down the page and it also means that some of your visitors won't realize that they can actually scroll down to learn more (because it's not implied, visually). This might seem strange, but it's a more common usability issue than you'd think.

 This doesn't mean that I'm about to lay into hero layouts as well, after having lambasted image carousels. I've seen the "hero" name attached to a wide variety of different layouts and not all of them are bad.

Here's a good example:

Here, the image tells a story that is relevant to the product, there's enough text above the fold to compel further reading and it's clear that more content awaits below the fold.

In conclusion: hero images can be effective if you avoid generic images, give the visitors a clear signal to scroll and don't use short, lame headlines (at least effective enough to be worth testing vs. other layouts).

What's the Best Alternative to a Slider?

If rotating sliders are so terrible and the hero layout also fails to be the universal solution, it begs the question: what is the best alternative to a large slider?

Quite simply, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that's why doing your own testing is so important.

But I don't want to leave you hanging with that, so here are three types of layouts you can use as inspiration for your pages (or better: variations of pages that you'll test against each other).

1) The Big, Fat Headline

For conveying the value of your offer, text is more powerful than images. Text also loads faster and gets recognized and read faster by your visitors.

Therefore, the first and most important thing you need on any important page on your website is an unmissable headline.

The headline should do one of two things: it should either clearly communicate your unique selling proposition or it should arouse curiosity that can only be satisfied by reading more of what's on your page.

The example above from Braintree Payments shows that a big, fat headline is sometimes the only thing you need.

Examples of Big Headlines in Use:

Adespresso use a lot of visuals, but they don't let them get in the way of their main headline.

At Thrive Themes, we're quite fond of big, fat headlines as you can see on any of our sales pages (like this one).

2) The Side-by-Side

This simple layout consists of two columns. One contains an image that represents your product, the other contains a headline and usually some additional text and a button.

This layout is a great way to communicate what your business is about in both text and visuals, while not using up too much space (as shown by the Square website). The great thing about this layout is that it puts a lot of emphasis on the image without letting it overwhelm the text portion.

Examples of the Side-by-Side Layout:

The Woopra homepage shows a large screenshot that shows off their software, next to text and a call to action.

The carbon health homepage shows an animated representation of their app next to the headline.

3) Click Play!

Look at any of our sales pages and you won't be surprised to hear that video has been very effective for us. A video should not replace your main headline or your call to action, but visually, it can be the star on the page.

Video is also an element that makes good use of the space it occupies on the page, since you can communicate a lot more in a video than just an image - given the same amount of space.

As the OptiMonk example above shows, using a video goes together with a side-by-side layout as well.

Examples of Video Homepages:

Coin uses a video of someone's experience with their product as the main sales message on the homepage.

Autopilot's homepage layout is all about getting visitors to watch the video, where the app is demonstrated.

4) Whatever is Best for Your Message

Let's take a step back from all this talk about sliders and layouts.

What's the purpose of a page?

It needs to communicate the right message to the right people. Any page - a homepage especially, but this really applies to any page - needs to give the visitor two signals very quickly:

  1. There's something here that's relevant to you, specifically.
  2. That thing is interesting and valuable enough that you should take a closer look at this page.

If your page fails to do this, you'll lose the majority of visitors within seconds.

While it's always nice to use templates and clear rules for how to do things, the bottom line is that you should do whatever is best for your business and for your audience. As the Intercom homepage example above shows, a good layout isn't always archetypal one.

A cartoon with a funky layout probably works for them, but might not work for many other websites.

Examples of Unconventional Layouts:

Basecamp use a layout that looks like a long-form sales letter (except it's not very long) together with a sliding signup form.

Derek Halpern's blog presents itself with a mix of slightly over-the-top personal branding and an opt-in form.

The Leopard website is a single-product store. The homepage combines a large image and video with an easy way to purchase right away.

Waaffle uses a large, animated illustration as the main attention-grabber for the homepage. It acts like a hybrid between a video and an image homepage.

Over to You

At this point, I hope you clearly see that auto-forwarding sliders are a really, really bad idea and should be removed from your website right away. And you also have a few better alternatives that you can work with (along with every template we've ever released for Thrive Architect).

What's your take on all this? Did you use sliders before? Will you continue using them? Do you have other favorite alternative layouts? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Shane

by Shane Melaugh  October 4, 2016

246

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  • I’ve been considering taking the plunge and using mega-images ever since I read a post by Justin Rondeau at The Daily Egg where a series of case studies showed an increase in leads by switching to hero images from what were already conversion optimized and performing well sales pages.

    I wonder Sean if you have any thoughts on video backgrounds for these? Too distracting, fad, or future? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from Trey Smith’s new website and product Buildbox. (no aff): https://www.buildbox.com/

    • Hello Gary,

      Background videos seem quite gimmicky to me. They suffer from one of the same problems that the hero images do: because they’re in the background, they either have to be generic and unimportant or they will distract from the foreground content. Also, a background video will definitely slow down your site loading speed compared to an image or almost any other kind of content. So, it really has to perform well to be worth the hit in speed.

      However, these are just my opinions. I’ve not seen any testing data on background videos yet. If you can get higher conversions with a background video, then my opinion of them doesn’t matter. 🙂

      • That is wonderful news Shane! As I said before: I ave tested all WP popup plugins I could find, even the very expensive ones, and yours still converts far more! I guess because you offer so much customization. The only downside is the responsiveness which doesn’t work properly. If this is fixed… wow!

  • I like sliders. They add movement to the page and can convey sales points at the same time. People skim text, but look at pictures. They are attention getters. That said, they do make the page load slower, and after reading this post, I will rethink using them. Thank you for showing the reasons not to use sliders.

    • I encourage you to test a slider vs. some other layouts. I’d love to see your test data, whichever way the results turn out.

  • I have this exact discussion with almost every client. Distraction free websites just convert much higher than those with unnecessary bells and whistles.

    • Thanks for your comment, Keith. I can imagine that working with clients adds another layer of difficulty to this.

  • Sliders – first “Thank You!” for this excellent post with all the back up data! I have been beating this drum for at least a couple years. Meanwhile there are ever more sliders on small business websites. wtf?

    Like Matt I’m sending this to all my clients (and their designers) who still insist on using sliders …and burning their money. =^)

    • Thanks for your comment, Mark! Yeah, it seems like sliders were a fad when they came along, but the fad has held on for incredibly long. 🙂

  • As others have said, my clients often insist on sliders. I have one client that sells bespoke conservatories and orangeries and, in this case, I see the visual value to showcase what is possible.
    On my own site, however, I will certainly remove the slider and add video instead.
    Great article. Thanks, as always Shane.

    • I can see the issue with clients and that sometimes, there’s no way around it. I’ve also hear that often, a slider is more about internal company politics than anything else: every department wants to have something on the homepage, so you just add a slide for everyone and they’re happy.

    • Hi Rich,

      For sites with many products, I think two of the most important factors are search and navigation. With a slider, the visitor has to sit there and wait for different products to appear. With good, prominent site search and clear categorization, you’re empowering visitors to find what they need as quickly as possible.

      One thing I’d test is to have the broad categories of products displayed visually (e.g. in a grid) on the homepage. With many specialized products in a narrow niche, I’d also consider creating something like a quiz or interactive offer, where visitors who aren’t sure what they need can answer a series of questions and get recommendations as a result.

  • completely disagree, the use of “flashy effects” is going to depend on the target audience. Entertainment, Product Advertising and the like will all benefit from a hip, fun website, because the 18-30 age group responds well to flash… It is always all about the target audience.

    • It’s certainly true that different things work for different target markets. And flashy effects can have their purpose. However, I’d still bet that a non-slider variation with some animations or maybe parallax scrolling or even a background video would beat a slider variation. If you have some data that proves me wrong, I’d love to see it, by the way. At the end of the day, good data is all that matters in this case. 🙂

  • Sounds good! With that said clients demand these sorts of things, fad or not. I don’t mind suggesting and steering a client away from something but if they insist, I go with what they want.

    I think that the option for this should be included with your themes because ultimately if the client is happy my family – feeding, mortgage, clothing etc. – is happy.

    If down the line I need a tick box to remove it because the client sees the error of their ways so bee it.

    • That’s a good point, Monty. If they insist, you can use one of countless slider plugins with our themes. For us, it’s also a question of how we allocate resources: should we build yet another slider feature for those clients who absolutely insist on adding something that will ruin their websites? Or should we use that same time and money to build a new plugin, theme or feature that will help thousands of customers achieve better results in their business? To me, the answer is clear.

      • Shane,

        I see what your saying. Yes I do have a slider plugin I use and it works fine with TCB. I love the product(s) you put out and love the support.

        I work with clients all the time. Some are a joy to work with and others are a nightmare. They get married to ideas and sometimes there is no changing their mind. If you push too hard you have lost the client and the 25 clients they would have refereed you to – $$$.

        You say that you have never worked with clients before. I think that while you think that is fortunate – I think that you have missed out on a vital experience, because many of the people that buy your product are not the people looking to create a site to promote their own business but designers you have to deal with clients good and bad.

        Anyway Shane – Keep up the great work – TCB is a fantastic product and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

        Best to you and yours in 2015!!!

      • Monty C,

        While I understand the logic of the article, like most things, there are always exceptions. I have a client where using a full width slider (that users will rotate manually) is a necessity and the right choice. Unfortunately, I have talked to Thrive support and they have stated they don’t have a way to use their themes and do a FULL-WIDTH slider.

        Have you found a way to make your slider full-width? If so, how did you do it and what slider do you use?

        If I can’t find an alternative, I’ll have to recreate their website with something other than the Thrive theme and Content Builder.

        Thank you for your help.

    • I guess I should be thankful that I’ve never worked with clients before. But you make a valid point, of course. 🙂

  • I’m currently “fighting” one of my designers that still insists on using sliders or at least large hero image areas without text to grab the user’s attention. I keep asking him what he does with the user’s attention once he got it. So far he didn’t come up with y viable action for them. So I keep sending his design back for revision. Next time I’ll do it with a link to this post. Thanks Shane for giving me some more backing in the argument. Luckily he is the only one on my team, all others agree that sliders suck.

    I also had to smile reading the headline of this article, remembering one of your podcasts where you said that anything unusual went viral like the headline “Your Website sucks”.

    Try something unusual more often, but check the thesaurus for synonyms of “suck” next time 😉

  • Interesting article, but IMO it generalisation to tell that all sliders are bad.
    1st of all you can make slider that have better UX (stop rotation on mouse over, thumbnails of slides clickable, pause/play buttons)
    2nd, as Joshua wrote it depends on the business and target audience. I agree that many b2b websites (like referred in the list in the post) can be fine without sliders, but for b2c, it is a good way to grab attention and show the most important. products/messages on the home page. Think about that biggest B2C website – Amazon has sliders. Knowing Amazon approach to the business, I am 99.9% sure that they did their A/B tests.
    3rd – there are other pages than landing existing and not all your visitors are coming to landing page.

    • Thanks for your comment, Alexander.

      I see what you mean, but I’d also love to see some data to back this up. Several of the posts I linked to are based on B2C and ecommerce type businesses and I’ve never seen a test for a B2C business where a slider layout won. I’m not trying to say this to “win” an argument, I’m just genuinely interested in seeing data that proves me wrong.

      I checked Amazon and you’re right: I’m currently seeing a slider there as well, much to my amazement. I wonder if it will stick around. Note that they are using a narrow slider though, so it doesn’t use up too much vertical space.

    • Thanks for your comment, Eoin. I hope posts like this one will help sway the opinions of some of your clients.

  • With deep respect, how about you allow your customers the freedom to have a choice of sliders if they wish instead of making a unilateral decision to ban them? Let a thousand flowers bloom and please do NOT presume to protect us because of your imperial assessment of what is effective for our marketplace? Please do NOT treat us like children who know no better.

    • Hello Burt,

      I understand your point of view. Please understand that our decision to not create slider features or plugins is not because we think our customers don’t know any better. Our policy is to enable and educate as we did with the animations feature and the data short codes, for example.

      For us, it’s not just a question of creating a slider feature or not. It’s a question of allocating time and resources. We could spend our resource creating the one millionth slider plugin to add to our themes. But that means time and resource taken away from something else.
      So the question for us is: should we spend this resource on building a feature that we know will do harm in almost every case it’s used? Or should we spend this resource on building an amazing new feature or plugin that will create positive results for thousands of customers?

      Since you can easily use one of the countless existing slider plugins if your clients absolutely insist, the answer is very clear for me.

  • It’s interesting that so many people say that whatever the client wants, the client gets. I’d go as far to say that, as a consultant, if a person has enough experience with sliders to know that they don’t convert well then meet in the middle and create two pages and test them. The data will give irrefutable proof as to which is performing the best and go with the element that is achieving the best results. I would suggest that it is in the client’s best interests to be achieving the best results they can get. The client’s bottom line is the most important thing i.e. lead conversions and sales, not what design elements they want. If they want a design element that will kill conversions then that’s a very expensive mistake. I don’t have any experience with sliders so I can’t comment on their effectiveness or lack thereof. I would say just test, test, test and the numbers will give you the feedback you need.

    • Thanks for this comment, Malcolm!

      Maybe I should have added to the post that I’m never against testing something. Even a slider. It’s just that in the case of sliders, the existing data is quite overwhelmingly negative, so a slider winning a test seems pretty unlikely.


  • Wonderful post Shane. Even I too hate the sliders now. But I got a question regarding your hero image. … Does it apply to all types of sites? I, like millions of developers, have a business site which is usually meant for those who’re supposed to come to my site for web design, SEO, content and the like. Mine is primarily a web design business website. Now, I got a big image upfront with two CTA buttons and one tagline. Does it look vague to visitors or does it discourage them to scroll down further and check out my services? In our cases, the target is not standard visitors who come here to read content or so; they come to look for a service and that is on web design. Hence, should I assume that they will be amazed to see my design on my own site and then get more of this by digging further down?

    • Hi Kalyan,

      Like I say in the post: the hero image thing isn’t necessarily bad. I’d encourage you to test this, though. You can use tools like Mouseflow to record your visitors, for example. This will quickly show you whether your visitors scroll down the page or not.

      Or you can create a test with a full-height image vs. a narrower image and see if there’s a difference in conversions.

  • I have to agree with your primary reasons; when a slide appears it is usually gone before I can react. Then I am distracted by the subsequent slides, taking my focus off whatever drove me to the page in the first place.
    We dropped them early on from our sites, finding a static selection of half a dozen of our products, well displayed, got more orders.
    The issue is almost irrelevant to us, though, as over 92% of our traffic enters directly to a product page from either social or email/newsletter links.

    • That’s a good point, yes: in many businesses the homepage isn’t as important as it seems, because a lot of traffic goes to inner pages.

  • Don’t sugar coat it Shane, tell us what you really think! I have a question though, as a magician/balloon artist I want to show my client what I can do. Would you recommend a large static collage of balloon art/spectators being wowed, or 1 image with a call to action buttons to see what else I can do for their events? Thanks! As always, I appreciate you dedication to eradicating Optimize Press and other plug ins through Thrive themes.

    • Hi Harvey,

      This question sounds like the basis for an A/B test. I really can’t tell you which of these variations will do better, but it sounds like something worth testing. 🙂

  • Thankfully i never used sliders.My theory is same as yours that if big players in your niche are not doing something then its probably not working.

  • Thank you for your comment, Shweta!

    I answered a similar comment above, so I’ll just quote myself:

    For sites with many products, I think two of the most important factors are search and navigation. With a slider, the visitor has to sit there and wait for different products to appear. With good, prominent site search and clear categorization, you’re empowering visitors to find what they need as quickly as possible.

    One thing I’d test is to have the broad categories of products displayed visually (e.g. in a grid) on the homepage. With many specialized products in a narrow niche, I’d also consider creating something like a quiz or interactive offer, where visitors who aren’t sure what they need can answer a series of questions and get recommendations as a result.

  • I’ve listened to you and other experts and finally stopped experimenting with sliders. This is THEE question I have been wanting to ask. How should content stack on mobile? I use mainly referral based marketing for my local business. One soccer mom recommends me to another soccer mom so she looks up my site on her phone during her child’s practice. (maybe only having a minute to get that first impression) Video highlights and images are what they are most curious about. I hope you can address this type of conversion design in detail. Thank you Shane.

    • Thanks for your comment, Rudy!

      In general, you just stack all content vertically for mobile devices. Scrolling up and down is very easy to do on any device. Anything else, including pinching and zooming, is more cumbersome to do.

      In terms of priorities, nothing should change: both for large and small screens, the most important stuff should be at the top. On large screens, that can mean the most important things are above the fold, while on a smartphone, it will still require some scrolling to see it all.

  • Another great article. Thanks for these – I really enjoy reading your thoughts and I find that I learn a whole shed-load along the way.

    What I’d really like to know is your thoughts on affiliate marketing. I know you run a very successful affiliate program with Thrive Themes, and want to know whether you think it’s a good idea to create an affiliate program immediately alongside a product launch? I’m currently working on my first internet product and wonder whether I should launch an affiliate program alongside it, or wait until I’m on product 2.0 or something else?

    If you are able to write an article about this, I’d obviously be interested in learning about your software recommendations for affiliate administration.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    • Thank you for your comment, Adam.

      There’s no reason to wait before adding an affiliate program, as long as you follow the principle of rapid implementation. I.e. if it takes you forever to choose and implement an affiliate program and your entire schedule gets pushed back by months because of it, that’s bad. But if you just pick something you can implement quickly and get it done right away, it’s basically risk free.

      I recommend taking a look at Zaxaa, which is a very feature-rich solution (and you can start using it for free). If you implement quickly, the worst thing that can happen is that you get no affiliates and essentially the same result you would have gotten without an affiliate program. The best thing that can happen is that a couple of strong affiliates like your stuff and you make a ton of money you would have otherwise missed out on. 🙂

      I am working on an article about this kind of thing for imimpact, by the way. 🙂

  • I’d be interested to learn what you think of sliders that 1) do not auto slide and 2) are meant as a way to feature a premium listing ?

    I ask simply because most of my sites are directory portals which merchants pay a premium for certain features, being showed on front page with a slider is a premium feature.

    Feedback ?

    Great article

    • Hello Juan,

      A slider that doesn’t auto-forward is definitely better than one that does. But you have to be aware that very few visitors will see more than the first slide.

      If you’re selling positions in a homepage slider, then I guess having it auto-forward will be more satisfying for the customers who purchase that premium listing. In this case, it’s to your advantage that few people know about how ineffective sliders are. Personally, I wouldn’t pay for anything but the first position in a slider. 🙂

  • Great article Shane, I don’t really like sliders myself and have found the big background pics to be far too generic to really get an idea about the product or service. But people want to compare themselves to their competitors so if one does it, others follow. I added this to Inbound.org so I hope to see our community on it as well. Should be an interesting discussion.

  • It’s hard to agree entirely with you here when Amazon, the company also known for its conversion focus and success, puts a slider right on their home page. 🙂

    • An exception for every rule. I wonder how long the slider will stick around, too. The slider I’m currently seeing is very slim and comes after the main navigation and search. So even though it is a slider, it’s a far cry from the typical screen-filling slider I see in themes and on other websites.

      • Still quite screen-filling (about 70%), if you look at it on tablets which was obviously a conscious decision on their end. Anyways, I think your write-up might just need a differentiation on website types. I totally agree with you on keeping sliders out of a funnel/ landing page for one specific product or service but beg to differ when it comes to shops.

  • My slider on one site just got hacked (and 500,000 other sites who have that slider) along with it. Thanks for the headache.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write out such an extensive article with all the links and references to back up your claims Shane. I really appreciate your effort! 🙂

    I’ve never been a slider fan and never will. However, I’m a visually-oriented person by nature and my site’s topics will be also, given its content.

    I just bought this theme below Shane.

    http://my.studiopress.com/themes/agency/#demo-full

    I would be so incredibly grateful if you could give me your opinion, because I’m committed to it now. Please ignore the colour-scheme as that’ll be changed….this is just a demo.

    But please tell me what you think of the layout after clicking the ‘Our Work’ button, then scrolling down and ‘hovering’ over the grid…that, and of course the background image effect.

    The image I’ll be using is related to the site’s content, but is very generic as well where it will not be a distraction. It will actually be ‘blurred’ for eye-friendly effect.

    So hopefully having a blurred hero image (as I’ve seen on a few websites) don’t seem too off-putting since the main content stands out in constrast. (I”m a former pro cameraman).

    Therefore seeing what you think of the entire demo layout in the link, given this topic you’ve brought up, would really interest me greatly Bud. 🙂

    Thanks so much Shane, I’d be really grateful!

    Take care,
    Mark

    PS So sorry for the horribly late comment from your 10 day old post. I normally read your emails within a day of receiving them!

  • Wow, really interesting article. I didn’t realize that there was a such a huge backlash against sliders/carousels. I spent some time to read this entire post and follow up on the articles linked to this page.

    In the related article of the negative results were for 2 reasons:
    1. The Slider auto-forwards quickly, causing user confusion, and low click through rates.
    2. The slide takes up to much space above the fold, causing lost real estate below the fold.

    That being said, a couple of the articles point to some cases where it makes sense to use a slider. And as a couple of people pointed out, if your client demands you put in a slider, you put it in (somehow).

    In my case, the home page is not the main landing page. And I want to use a slider to point to the various landing pages on my site so they get an idea of the overall site.

    Finally, as pointed out here in the comments. Amazon.com is currently using a slider. (one with limited autoforwarding, and does not take up the entire screen). I am quite confident that Amazon wouldn’t do this if it did not have good results.

    So I hope future versions of Thrive Content Builder will allow me to create Sliders. Shane and Paul, you guys have created a great no-compromises product so far. I am sure if you think about it enough, you can create a great lightweight slider widget that we can use to keep our clients happy. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Jeffrey.

      There are countless slider plugins available, both free and paid. I’m sure you can find one that suits your needs and add it to Thrive pages easily. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’d see the roadmap of high-impact products and features we will be working on, I don’t think you’d want us to divert developer resources to creating a slightly better slider (which might help in some cases, but will probably lower conversions for almost everyone in almost every case).

  • I’m in the final stages of re- launching a classified aviation website and felt that a slider for this type of website would be beneficial at showcasing the higher end aircraft on the homepage (and charging a premium for the inclusion). I would agree however for most other websites it can be distracting and take away from the focus of conversions.
    By the way, I am very impressed with your Thrive Leads Plug-in for WordPress. Can’t wait to try it out on my other websites and I think I will use it to create an “Early Bird” list of those interested aircraft sellers and offer a discount for the Beta release if they sign up now so I’ll have more than a handful of planes posted at launch time 🙂

  • I still make use of them. The one at my own website doesn’t rotate that fast and isn’t that huge (originally it was bigger in the Worldpress theme I make use of, but I’ve chopped 1/3 of it). Instead of neclecting/removing the slider I’ve tried to make it an essential part of my site; When used in the right way, it could be useful to make the design look more funky.

  • Great article! I definitely see where you are coming from and agree about 99% of the time. As a consumer there are certain times I actually like to see a slider. Example, ejuices dot com. In this industry there are so so many products that come out all the time and for me personally I like to see all those via the slider. Other than that I agree with you, they basically suck. Also, keep up the great work and articles! I will be buying a theme soon. I am opening a business, wholesaling locally then eventually selling online, and need to set up a website.

  • I’m building a site for a friend’s Interior Landscape business.
    I’ve rejected the homepage slider but
    I’ve created a non-homepage slider for one page.
    It shows examples of her work at 2.5 seconds each with gentle fade outs.
    Slider size is moderate [900 x 316], above the content, content is above the ‘fold’
    I’m using it instead of a portfolio.
    I’d like to do the same on her other pages that need visual examples.
    Am I an idiot?

    • I can’t answer that question for you. If you really want to find out, run an A/B test with the slider page vs. a non-slider page. 🙂

  • So who appointed you the design police? I paid a lot of money and I feel that despite your stunning product you have let me down in this one area; and all because of your own prejudice. Some of us actually like giving our customers what they ask for!

    • There are countless slider plugins that are all easily usable within our themes and landing pages.

      I’d also say that there’s an important distinction between ‘prejudice’ and ‘mountains of data’. We’ve made it our mission to deliver conversion focused products and we’d do a disservice to our customers if we spent development time and resources on creating a feature that would almost certainly lead to lowered conversions when put in use, when we could invest that same time and resource into creating something that will help.

      Focusing on conversion while remaining compatible with all the various (free and paid) existing slider solutions seems like a fair compromise to me.

  • Shane-
    Absolutely LOVE your products, your emails, updates- absolutely AWESOME stuff. Please keep up the hard work!

    Question: You mention testing your homepage layouts- but *HOW* exactly do we do that? I’ve got all Thrive Leads/Themes products/plugins- but not sure how to test a homepage design layout for email list conversions. Can you explain?

  • Sorry. I meant to add some text to my previous comment, not just the link to the apple.com site. I was curious about what you think was Apple philosophy about sliders. Why doesn’t Apple realize how bad sliders are?

  • Hi Shane

    What would you recommend for a photographer’s website who needs to be focused on showing his pictures?

    Thanks

  • I am a photographer!!! An expensive photographer with exquisite imagery… it’s those images that people come to see. I don’t want them to land on my page and see exactly the same image everytime… with a random slider, I achieve that wow at each visit. Plus, the parallax and various other elements that go alongside the other styles of builder seem more appropriate to an image based business. We don’t do video, we do stills and though I appreciate there is still a place for video on our website, using a builder that only seems to allow the creation of static, boxy, corporate or salesey web pages better suited to the quick buck bore them with factoids and force a reduced sale on them option probably isn’t the best for me. Good luck!

  • As a real-world world data point of one, I’d like to say that sliders on certain B2C product-heavy sites keep me shopping longer. As a musician, I visit multiple musical instrument / gear websites on a daily basis, and make purchases weekly. All of them have sliders showcasing their new/featured/sale products. I review all of the slider items, and almost always click through for more info on at least one of the products, sometimes purchasing them on the spot. More often than not, my entire visit consists of interacting with the slider and their offshoot links, and no other pages.

  • I can’t say I’m 100% on this yet, but the thinking is right. There are times when a slider can be effective, but are often a crutch to prop-up bad thinking. I’m trying to avoid them, unless there is a specific reason. Or, unless I’m forced.

  • My clients all demand sliders on their pages. What I always find interesting is I ask them if they actually sit and watch slideshows, or ever click on slides on sites when they are just browsing sites. Almost all of them say no. It helps give them some perspective. I have been working on getting more sites in my portfolio that show alternatives.

  • Your article seems to have be written in January 2015. Do you still feel about sliders today as you did then and what is the ‘now’ trend in website design.

  • How do you feel about using a slider on a directory site that covers a fairly broad geographic area? The heart of soul of th edirectory site is the navigation menu with tabs such as “Things To Do”, “Places To Stay” etc. That navigation is typically very visible either above or just below the slider images and the only action you are trying to get people to do is to click on A tab and sub menu item (such as Things To Do>Skiiing) and then see the list of places that they can go skiing. I suppose if your directory was for San Francisco you could use a static photo or the Golden Gate Bridge or for New York, the Empire State Building, but what do you do if your geographic area is slightly braoder and there is no one iconic image to use on your homepage? A slider with a rotating variety of photos of the region seems like it might be useful. It doesn’t seem that the slider would decrease the number of people who visit interior pages to view individual listings but I have no data on that. Do you have an opinion regarding the use of a slider on a directory website? Might it be an exception or do you think there are better options even for directory websites?

  • Late to this article, but you confirmed what I already suspected, so slider goes away.

    Follow-up question, though: best home page layout for a news-and-commentary site?

  • I have literally just removed auto-forwarding sliders! Thank you Shane for this article, really spells out exactly the do’s and don’ts! I tried to keep it as simple as possible.

  • Shane – First, in my frustration in trying to create sliders, my wife sent this to me – so first – thank her. 🙂 I appreciate your words and have basically decided now to go with one of your suggestions. I have just finished designing a WordPress site and have run into a hurdle in finishing up my sliders. I have put A LOT of man hours in designing/creating this site. Adding one of your options – probably a side-by-side. As silly and simple as this question may sound to you – Can I create one of these slides within WordPress? I really need to get this site done and basically my slider design/creation issue has been holding the whole thing up. I have to say – I’m at a loss right now. I appreciate the article and suggestions. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach to me via email. – Matt

    • Hi Matt,

      First of all, I’m happy to know that you’ve seen the light. 😀

      Concerning your question: yes, something like this can be created in WordPress, but the default WordPress editor isn’t really made for creating layouts, landing pages, sales pages etc. Basically it isn’t made for anything except simple blog posts.

      The solution I suggest is to use a visual editor such as Thrive Content Builder. This won’t only help you build a better above-the-fold part of your homepage, it will help you create better pages and better content everywhere on your site.

  • Really liked this article. Shared it with a client now who’s sliders suck and we are re-doing them. Instead of having them all slide through, we are going to test each of them for a time to see which converts best, then test again. Case study started! Thanks Shane.

  • What do you think of ECommerce type sliders? Example: https://revolution.themepunch.com/woocommerce-slider/

    I like them for my current project because in this case by the time a potential customer is investigating the product sliders, its because they are already mostly sold.

    Still though the auto slide can still be annoying potentially, but in the above example the content is very minimal so should be to much of an issue?

    • I think the page you linked to is a good example of why to avoid sliders. For me, it took a long time to load and I couldn’t actually investigate any details of the page because trying to scroll makes the page jump around erratically for me. This is probably some parallax or scroll-jacking effect gone wrong…

      But the point is: if it can happen on their demo page, it can happen to visitors of your shop and neither slow loading pages nor strange scrolling behavior is going to convince anyone to buy anything.

  • Very interesting thoughtful discussion.
    Even though my initial reaction was to dismiss the claims the more I red the more I was educated.

    Zak

  • One of our clients at our company wooranking score went from an 80 t0 50 after we put a slider on their website. The reason being is that sliders are made with JavaScript. The render blocking nature of JavaScript is what causes pages to load slowly and speed is an important factor when it comes to SEO nowadays. Moving your JavaScript file for your slider to the end of the document causes most sliders not to load correctly on CMS platforms. I tried warning my managers about sliders but they did not want to listen and now we have a disgruntled client wanting answers.

    • Yep, that’s a very good technical reason to avoid sliders as well. Because it’s above the fold, you can’t really defer loading the script until the end, so it’s always going to be a performance issue.

  • I never capitalise but this is an AWESOME article. I always get Amazon thrown back at me when I start my rant. They have been using them for a long time and I think it is fair to say they do a bit of testing. Not relevant to the vast majority though. This blog will help my campaign – thanks Shane.

    • Thank you very much, Robin!

      Amazon is one of the anti-examples, yeah. But if you look at the size and placement of their slider and the way it behaves, it’s quite a far cry from the typical full-screen, everything-animated-in-layers, auto-forwardy type of slider seen in most themes and templates.

      If every slider was like the one on Amazon, I wouldn’t need to rant about them too much. 🙂

  • I never knew those things were called sliders until reading this artlcle. I absolutely hate each & every one of them. I’ve figured out how to block them on my computer, but when they happen on the phone… ugh! A lot of folks are going to be shocked come the new year, that’s for sure.

  • What an indepth article. Thanks very much 🙂

    Shane, what do you think about slider for testimonials? I thought it may be better to use it on mobile since it can make your landing page shorter and look more compelling. I find it long landing pages (used for desktop) doesn’t convert much on mobile. Nowadays, I care about my mobile users than desktop since it’s like 80% for me.

    • That’s a very interesting question, Reona. As you may notice, we have slider type templates for Thrive Ovation… which seems like a contradiction to everything I’m saying here.

      As it happens, I have a whole separate rant about that, which I will have to publish soon. 🙂

  • Great article, i always advice my clients to avoid sliders, i remember one day i advised a prospective client to avoid sliders in the home page of his website and he never replied back to my email.

  • What about photographer’s websites? All the common photo themes have sliders at the top. And virtually all photographers use them. I’m curious how they play out in all this as they are more about photos and less about text.

    • Hi Marlene,

      For a photography website, I’d test a hero shot and a link or button that opens a lightbox gallery. I think the key is to give control to the visitor. If images are being shown to me because I want to be looking at images right now, that’s good. If I’m sliding from one image to the next when I want it, it’s good. If the sliding and stuff is happening without my input, it’s problematic.

      The principle of “customer is king” applies. That’s the way I look at it, anyway. I want my visitor to feel empowered, informed and in control. Auto-forwarding sliders don’t help with that.

  • different messages on every slide is useless. I fully agree.
    What about a slider where only the background is changing ( or even more simple, the image is changing.) Maybe tell a background story with the changing images.
    The main headline message shouldn’t change then.
    Has that even been tested

    • I don’t know of any tests like that. One thing that comes to mind from video production: the viewer’s attention is very fickle. In videos, you have to make sure that there’s always something interesting going on, because if there’s even a few seconds of boredom, people will just stop watching. With that in mind, I don’t know what the chances are that you can capture and keep someone’s attention with a subtly changing background thing…

  • Interesting article. I’m convinced. Now… How do I quickly move my site from its current ‘slider-rich’ theme to a Thrive theme? Is this something you guys can help me with?

    • Yes, another convert!

      Unfortunately, we don’t have any site moving or theme moving service at this time.

  • As a newbie to building a website but a very long time researcher I can not thank Shane enough…! There is nothing I hate more on the web than a site in which I can not find quickly the info I clicked through for to begin with.
    I instantly click out and never go back…why bother there are 100’s of other sites I can get my info from. Sliders piss me off and I won’t even try to continue if I land and am then taken off on some wild goose chase “not ” on my agenda. I also will not stress myself, trying to read as fast or slow as the owner has decided I should, as well as, take in the “irrelevant info” to me and small bites at his discretion.

  • Hey Matt, Your thoughts on parallax scrolling as a design element from the perspective of helping\hurting conversions?

  • Great video, Shane, and even better message. I agree that sliders suck, for all the reasons you list in your blog post. But I believe many website developers use them as eye-candy selling gimmicks to unsuspecting clients. It’s like when you go into an electronics superstore and all the big, flatscreen TVs are showing amazing, colorful images in hopes of getting you excited about buying a new TV. But unfortunately sometimes clients insist on having a slider, so you kind of have to give them what they want. Over time, if enough of us keep railing against sliders, hopefully they’ll eventually fall out of favor.

    • That’s a great comparison, yes. It’s definitely an easy way to get a “wow” out of someone, especially if they are not tech savvy.

  • Hi Shane,

    I am one of your thousand followers and a proud annual subscriber of ThriveThemes.

    I strongly admire the way you communicate with us. Your video presentations are always great to watch, for both their content and their look. I suspect that you are using KeyNote for your text and graphics. But what about the multi-color transitions?

    Keep up the good work.

    • Hello Vincent,

      Thank you very much!

      All the non-live parts of the video are custom animated, these days. I used to use PowerPoint for everything, but we now have a dedicated video animator/editor on the team.

  • Yes it is true in eccommerce website templates..difficult to find one without a slider or huge image on home page. So instead of following the crowd decided to put my products listed per category on my home page. Quite difficult to modify in woo but managed it with the help of Thrive content builder and short codes!! Simple, clear layout…no fluffy crap :). If doing a landing page I also keep it rediculously simple…Fantastic article, and has backed up what I’ve long thought about these terrible sliders!

  • Thank you shane! I am always dealing with clients who are on a mission to out “design” their competitors and the one thing I hear the most is “we need a slider” and I always try to talk them out of it with real live stats matched with a/b testing with a home pages that produces leads vs a slider that bogs down the site.
    Sliders should be eradicated.

  • I think sliders are “fancy”, but after reading your article, I tend to agree that they should be dumped – including my own site. I have found that some sliders call external javascript, which also slows the site down. So, I too, am going to take the advice and start using video…or big headlines…

  • My website home page has a huge slider at the top, because the “guru” who I hired to design my website did it that way. I said to myself: How is it possible that using the most precious real state to show beautiful high definition pictures is considered a good thing? But I was paying a company who are supposed to be experts in the marketing trends. I thought that maybe this is actually what the future is about. When I read your post I finally found a support for my concerns: that what I really purchased was a piece of crap, and that I need to redesign my website again. I wish I had the creativity to design it myself and not depend on idiots anymore.

    • Yeah, I think your instinct about that was right. Like I say in the video, the slider is a pretty lazy choice, which is why it’s often the first suggestion.

  • The two-columns format looks really badass. It makes the text salient without sacrificing visuals. One-column tends to look a bit simplistic, but it can be made more sophisticated with design as well.

  • Hi Shane,

    I think my website is an exception to your rule. Take a look and let me know if you agree? If not, we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Thanks,
    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      On your site, here’s what I would test: a large, hero-image style layout with a heading and text block overlay. In your case, the images are very well suited as background images, so it would work great. The text needs to convey what your site is about and what the visitor can get. Then, I’d add two calls to action. One to go to the shop page and one to see more images. For that second link, I’d either open an image gallery where the visitor controls the navigation through images or link to a page with a thumbnail gallery.

  • I am the head of Online project at a big ecommerce company in Germany, with over 50k of merchandise products. We did some big and loooong testings with moving sliders, non sliders(blocks), customer profiling on the homepage, and we have do have to say, that sliders can work, but the graphics and ‘outings’ must be COOL and CLEAR. Otherwise it will absolutely not work. For me personaly, i would not use sliders…

  • It’s a shame because I LOVE WATCHING SLIDERS 😀 but I never ever will use one in my page, only because you say so!
    Honestly…. I trust and thank you for your advise, always 🙂
    Cheers

      • Surely that’s the nub of the issue. Lots of people do like watching sliders .. but that’s all they do. Watch, be amazed and bounce. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been mesmerised by amazing images and watched them for 5 minutes before waking up and realising I needed to be somewhere else.

  • I’m not confident that ‘sliders suck’ is a one-size-fits-all approach that will be right in every case. The questions for me is; are you using a slider because you think a slider is cool, or are you using a slider because it is the best way to present your product? Essentially, my site visitors come looking for pictures of my vacation rental. That is what they want to see, above all else, and all research in my industry confirms this. So my visitors are greeted by a slider with simple messages that appear over each big image, taking its sweet time so that there is opportunity to study the images in all of their glorious detail. They don’t disappear too fast, and they have simple, big easy-to-read text over them after the photo has had an ample ‘sink-in’ moment. In other words, my site visitors want – first and foremost – a slide show! So I give them one!
    I think the crucial issue is this; are you using the most appropriate tool to communicate your message? Or are you using a hammer when a screwdriver would work much better, because a hammer is cool? Choose the appropriate tool for the message you want to convey. If your visitors want (or need) images, a slider is a great way to provide them. Even though images can communicate a ton of meaning, they are often not the best way to make a point or communicate an idea. That’s why this page has 143 comments, and not 143 photos from visitors.

    • “are you using the most appropriate tool to communicate your message?” – this is the crucial point, yes. I agree with that 100% and I believe that in most cases, the answer is not a slider. It may not always be a bad choice to use a slider, but badly utilized sliders are so common that I feel compelled to take a hard stance against them. 🙂

  • Any examples of multi-product ecommerce websites doing this? The vast majority I see have sliders to feature the most popular products above the fold.

    • Hi Justin,

      A few that use a hero image style layout:

      Reebok
      Onnit
      DodoCase

      An interesting one is BulkPowders, because this technically does have a slider, but it’s so slow I bet few visitors ever notice. The strength on this site is the navigation menu. I’d love to see their stats on how many visitors interact with the menus vs. the slider. 😀

      Some unconventional ones:

      DropDead – I believe this would be more effective if more emphasis was placed on the side naviation.
      Sony – uses sliders, but not above the fold and only manual ones.
      Garmin Shop – featured products, followed by different ways to navigate the vastness of their categories.

      I hope that provides some inspiration.