To Slider, Or Not To Slider…
Sliders on a web page are an extremely popular element on web pages, often used to display a variety of content in an aesthetically pleasing way. The inclusion of a slider is probably one of the most common requests I get from clients during design revision, “can we make that slide?”
Sure, why not – they look great, right?
With the gentle animations and dreamy transitions, who wouldn’t want to sit there and admire it. But more often than not sliders are wasted real estate, done poorly, and highly unusable.
While sliders are still a very popular tool, I’m actually noticing a decline in their use on larger sites who are often leaders in modern design/layout techniques. Still, the trend decline will take a while to hit the majority of website owners – and so I aim to answer the question: To Slider, Or Not To Slider…
Three Types Of Slidin’
To begin with, I think it’s important to clarify the purpose of a content slider – which will help you decide if it’s right for your design or not. I consider there to be three main types of sliders (by type, I mean their purpose): Content sliders, Information sliders, and Navigation Sliders.
The slider trend started here, most commonly seen on magazine style websites/blogs. They’re often used to showcase some featured or most recent posts, and are a great way to help the user to consume content.
Content sliders are quite often very graphical, they’re attention grabbers. They’re really useful for putting the content we want the user to focus on front and center to get maximum attention.
However content sliders are exactly that – content! Fresh, consumable, content. This does NOT include your About or Services page… A content slider should feature fresh content, and update regularly so that return visitors know it will provide them with the latest content to read.
Information sliders have been a manifestation of content sliders, people started repurposing the technology to help users consume a different kind of content – product/service information.
This is where most of my clients fit in, they think it will be “cool” to have a slider that moves and flashes and gets attention. But they have no idea what purpose it would fill, so they just chuck random bits of information in there. Here’s an About slide, then a slide on Service A, then another on Service B.
Information sliders should really tell a story, flow on from one to another – not jump between subjects. While the trend here is subsiding, they were often commonly (well) used on websites about a single product (such as software). Each slide would show case one of the features/benefits of the product, explain it in detail, then move on to the next. However they’re all tied to the one subject: Why would you want to buy this product.
Navigation sliders are another manifestation that deserve their own classification. Their purpose is to help people NAVIGATE your website, not primarily to showcase content.
A navigation slider should never dominate too much real estate, again their primary purpose is to help people GET to the right content – not to give them the content. The example given here is from the Copywrite Matters website, and is used to segment her visitors by what sort of service they’re looking to use. The key word there being: segment.
We use a navigation slider to segment the visitors on our home page to the content they’re trying to get to. This doesn’t include your about page! We don’t segment visitors to secondary content, we segment them into our conversion funnels.
How To Get It Right
First and foremost you need to identify the type of slider you plan on having, and be 100% clear on the objective of that slider.
“I want one because they look cool” is not an objective, aesthetics alone don’t make a great website. If you don’t use the slider properly, you’re just wasting extremely valuable real estate on content that your visitors don’t want to see. Or worse yet, just causing your visitors to bounce.
While About pages are extremely important, I’m afraid they don’t belong in any sort of slider – so you can forget that. Remember that each type of slider has a distinct purpose:
- Content sliders provide fresh content for visitors to consume
- Information sliders tell a story, all slides are linked to one subject
- Navigation sliders segment your visitors, getting them into your conversion funnels
I’m currently working on another blog post with my top tips for making a usable slider – so stay tuned for that one. In the meantime, if you have any questions about sliders you know what to do! (Hint: comment below)