“To slider or not to slider, that is the question.”
You may not have heard this yet, but using sliders on your website is of great controversy out in the website development world. Heck, I didn’t even know it until awhile ago. My clients keep asking for them and I have done my best to deliver them.
There are certain aspects of web design I’m pretty firm on and will push back against, sliders however, have not been on that list, at least not until recently. As I have been researching new plugins for sliders, I began to run into some rather strong opinions on the subject.
Well bad, bad me!
As I continue to transition more into the role of consultant and guide, it means that just because my client asks me for something doesn’t mean they need it or should have it. It’s my job to look at the project, the main goals of the website and advise on how a requested feature, such as a slider, will fit into the mix – if at all.
But c’mon, let’s face it, they look cool! I’ve used them in the past on my websites and still currently use one on my photography website. But even on that site, I’m starting to question if this is best use of space on that site.
When you look at the slider options out there, they are uber cool. Especially when they have options like this one or this one. Aren’t they just fun to look at? It feels like a mini movie on your website. The flashier and bigger the better right?
Recently I purchased a couple of slider plugins with advanced options to play and experiment with for an upcoming project. The research and the controversy got me curious to dive deeper and find out:
- What do the critics (aka the coders and waaaaay smarter than me testers) say?
- How does this affect my site and page load time?
- How will these work on tablets and phones?
- Will they work with my preferred theme?
- Can my client manage these after I hand the site over to them?
The Pro’s of Having a Slider
Pro #1) The aforementioned coolness factor is a big one. We want our websites to look like they belong in the 21st century and not stuck in the 90’s right? A nice slider can bring interactivity to your site and draw attention to featured content.
Pro #2) They are visually appealing. We are visual people and sliders seem to fit nicely into this idea and can grab attention.
Pro #3) They can help tell a story.
The Con’s of Having a Slider
Here is where the story gets even more interesting and controversial.
Con #1) Historically sliders are not great cross-platform – Desktop Computer, Laptop, Tablets, and Phones. This has been one of my biggest concerns and issues in using them.
Con #2) This is a biggie… it can negatively affect your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Google likes to have content and strong keywords at the top of your page, sliders (can be) “non-content” and are not counted as multiple images with specific keywords. They can also slow down your page load time and that will have a negative impact on your Google ranking.
Con #3) Another biggie… most of the plugins I have tested so far with the fancier bells and whistles are not all that easy to use. You do need to educate yourself on how to use them and be able to create excellent graphics to pull them off. For my average client, they will not have the time or resources to create killer graphics each time they want to update a slider.
What Can You Do as an Alternative?
Thankfully there are some great alternatives. In my research I found ideas that I am going to be implementing on my photography website to test conversion and click-through rates.
Alternative #1) Move the slider down the page. Get your important keywords, key points up to the top of the page where it is easily found and seen. Google and your users will thank you for it.
Alternative #2) Use an eye-catching single image with text of your key points. This also makes the images easier to share on Pinterest!!
Alternative #3) Use video to help tell your story (also great for sharing on Social Media and using on YouTube for greater visibility and another high traffic source to use your keywords).
With all this research, I am more against sliders then I am for them. BUT I do think that when they are well thought out and strategically placed on a website, they can be visually appealing, grab attention and encourage your visitor to click-through to important featured content. IF AND ONLY IF they are well thought out.
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If you have some extra time, read through the comments on these articles as well. The conversations there have great additional insights, examples and contrary opinions. Some comments you may just want to skip over too 🙂