Sliders are Damaging Your Website's Performance

Podcast host

Phil Vallender

Phil Vallender


Episode summary

When it comes to designing or updating a B2B homepage, there can be a lot of forces pulling in different directions. There can be different opinions about the company's value proposition, desire to give multiple messages prime position, creative temptation to make things more sophisticated, promotions to run, events to announce, news to share, etc.

With all this going on, it's understandable that, from time to time, a homepage design will feature either a slider/carousel or scrolling text in the hero section, as a way to meet the demands placed upon it.

But using sliders has a range of negative impacts that are just too severe to ignore. And they far outweigh any perceived benefit.

Episode transcript

Basically, website sliders are a terrible, terrible design development choice for B2B websites.

To be clear, when we talk about website sliders, most people are thinking of those homepage hero sections which slide.

There are other forms of carousel and slider that you might be able to get away with in website design, but the most commonly seen application is the homepage hero, and it's also the most damaging.

Website sliders have a host of problems.

The effect movement has on the human brain

The number one problem is the effect that the movement of them has on the human brain.

Movement in anything on a website distracts our brain so effectively, so efficiently, that all of our attention goes over to the movement and it impairs our ability to see, read and consume anything else that's there.

So when you take the core, most important message on your website and you make it disappear, not only is it disappearing from view, but the movement as it does so ensures that the viewer focuses on that movement rather than the message that's disappearing or the new one that appears.

And it's even worse if you provide controls for the user to engage with to make that movement happen, because that's like a dopamine hit.

People will start clicking on the dots on your slider or the arrows to see the movement.

And if you're looking at a heat map or you're looking at a visitor recording, you might think, oh, wow, these people are really engaging with this slider full of content.

But in fact, they're not.

They're just giving themselves a thrill by seeing what animation you've put in place from one slide to the next.

There are studies, right, this is scientific movement distracts the human brain. And sadly, it doesn't only apply to sliders.

We have to consider the fact that most forms of animation, most forms of video will distract the human eye and brain from whatever's alongside it.

So you've got to bear that in mind, really, whenever you're using motion in your website and how you use it.

But, back to sliders, the movement distracts the human brain.

How businesses try to justify sliders

The justification that's given for a slider in most cases is, well, we want to get multiple messages across. We've got more than one thing to say.

And I'm like, well, I'm sorry, but you've got to try harder.

You got to figure out what is it most important to say, because trying to communicate three or more value propositions, benefit statements, offerings or even offers in a slider that moves is ensuring that none of them go across well.

None of them are consumed or remembered well. It dilutes the effect of them all, and it applies universally.

The first is as poorly understood as the second and the third, because people simply aren't going to have time to absorb what's being said until movement either occurs or they activate it.

The impact of sliders on search rankings

It's equally bad for the search engine visitor, if you like.

When Google crawls a website, it's looking for prominent singular H1 titles, and your SEO is impacted very much by the presence of keywords in titles and in page copy as well. And you're trying to thrust three or more equally important statements at Google that it cannot distinguish between.

Now, you might be able to offset that slightly by making only one of them, a H1, for example, but it's still not as good as having a single static message and supporting image for both search engines to index and crawl and rank you based on, and for visitors to consume when they arrive.

The role of the homepage hero section is so important to the first time visitor and the impression that they form within that first few seconds, that's often called the blink test. So important.

Using a slider in that situation is so damaging to that, that it's simply not advice that we can give.

Why website sliders are so damaging

You want people who arrive to stay, you want people who arrive to travel onward down the page, through your navigation, through your site, to find information that's critical to purchase, to form an opinion, to develop trust and go on to convert.

If you put a slider in front of them in that all-important home page or landing page hero section, you're potentially reducing the number of people that arrive in the first place because of the negative SEO impact. And you're definitely reducing the number of people who stay and engage and convert and the quality of them because of the poor user experience that the slider presents.

And yes, if as a business you're justifying the presence of a slider by saying, well, we've got lots to say or we've got to get across multiple messages, then you really need to go back to the drawing board.

Think harder about what the key value proposition for the home page, for example, is and for other pages, and lead with that message and use content further down the page to cover off other points if you truly have them.