Why you should stop using image sliders on your website and what you should do instead.

What are image sliders?

Image sliders. You've all seen them. They're also called image carousels, slideshows, image rotators, banner sliders and banner rotators etc. Image sliders show multiple images in the same space, with each image sliding in and out. These images may be clickable, with each image linked to a different web page. Many people use an image slider on their website, most commonly in that "above the fold" area at the top of their home page.

If you're not familiar with the term "above the fold", let me explain. Originally the term referred to the upper half of the front page of a newspaper. This is the area that is visible when the papers are folded and displayed on stands. Nowadays, the phrase is also used to refer to the upper portion of a web page that's visible without scrolling down. When someone lands on your web page, this is the area they will see before they start interacting with your site. That's why it's considered the most important section of your page.

Going back to image sliders... It may be that the theme you're using comes with one and so you've automatically populated it and used it. You may think that image sliders are quite cool. And yes, they are a convenient way to show multiple images. But, they're bad news. Stop using them. Here's why...

Image sliders are ignored

Tests have shown that they are not effective use of that most important real estate of your web page. Eye-tracking studies concluded that most website visitors ignore image sliders.

One reason is that people have become desensitised to these image sliders, so much so that they don't even notice them. Put simply, visitors have become blind to image sliders.

Image sliders create bad user experience

Another problem with image sliders is that each image is shown for just a few seconds. Even if your visitors do want to look through your images, they would have hardly had time to read and digest one thing, when the image changes to the next and they have to refocus their attention. This takes control away from your visitors and can be frustrating. And only about 1% of your visitors will actually click on a slide. What a waste of that premium space!

Emob4kids, a Belgium company that sells children furniture, conducted a very interesting test on their home page. Half of the visitors were shown a home page with an image slider that showed 11 specific products, with links to their respective pages. The other half were shown static images representing product categories, with links to category pages instead. The result? The home page with static category images had 187.9% more clicks and generated 75% more sales!

Each of your web pages should have a single focus

You may think... "But I need a slider to show multiple images!" or "I want to show multiple offerings!"

But do you?

Each page on your website should ideally have just one goal. Let's take your home page as an example. What's your primary goal for that page when someone lands on it? If it's building your email list, then optimise the page to lead people to sign up for your lead magnet. If it's to get someone to book a complimentary call with you, do that. If it's to get people to ask for a quote, do that. Don't offer your visitors so many different choices and multiple paths that they simply click here and there aimlessly, and then leave.

Guide your visitors to take the desired action

With that in mind, you can see that there's really no need for an image slider. Use a powerful static image instead, and focus the page to achieve just one major goal.

Think of it this way, if you can't decide what you'd like your visitors to do on a page, and you're just throwing everything out there and hope for the best, it means your page lacks focus. If you don't know what the focus is on your page, how would your visitors?

If you are using an image slider on your website, don't panic. Take time to think about what focus your want your page to have, and replace the slider with a static image or a group of images, depending on your needs. If you don't have time to do that right now, for now you can just disable the auto advance functionality for your slider. This means that the images in your slider won't slide in and out on its own, but require the user to manually do so. (The truth is though, very few people will do this anyway.)

Do you currently use an image slider?

Why you should stop using image sliders on your website and what you should do instead.

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