Image sliders and speed

The death of image sliders on websites[ 6 min read ]

Image sliders (also known as carousels) are the big banner type moving images usually found at the top of a website homepage and I’m here to tell you that they’re dead.

Big statement? Possibly! They’ve been slowly dying off for a few years now but the latest Google Algorithm ‘Core Web Vitals’ has put the final nail in the coffin.

A lot of clients love them and want to use them on their website, and we do if they really want one but here are 8 reasons why they/we shouldn’t.

1. They kill the website speed

Page loading, above the fold content and other speed-related things were part of the last algorithm and sliders (usually above the fold/at the top of the page) take a hefty bit of loading. Removing them will be the best and easiest thing you can do for website page speed. 

2. Nobody reads them!

Have you sat and looked at a slider for any length of time? I only do it if I caught a glimpse of an offer or something that I was interested in and I have to wait until it comes around again because there are no arrows to click. I generally don’t sit and read every slider as a rule. 

And if your customers do sit and read them, they might have message overload or your overall message might be diluted which will just leave them feeling confused.
Too many sales messages = no message at all.  

3. They’re not accessible

People with disabilities may not be able to see the slider/the message, or even use the website properly with them there, as they’re often not optimised for things like screen readers/zoom-in facilities or inline with web-accessibility standards.

4. They’re distracting

The human eye is trained to be distracted by movement (a left over relic from a time when movement might have meant life of death) and so they might be so distracted that they miss the actual message all together. 

5. They don’t convert

In 2013,  Stats were published by Erik Runyon, Director of Web Communications at the University of Notre Dame, about the interactivity of carousels and found that only 1% of website users interacted with banners – i.e. clicked on them. Proving that they’re an ineffective tool for converting leads to actual customers.

6. “Banner blindness”

We tend to ignore sliders these days because they rarely contain anything we want to look at so we skip past that bit even if they’re fighting for attention with all the movement. 

Sometimes banners look like ads and eye-tracking studies have shown that people turn away from anything that looks like an ad. Read more about that study by Neilson Norman Group here.

7. They’re rubbish on mobile devices

It takes a lot of faffing (technical word) to get a slider looking nice on mobile devices, and usually involves recreating all the images in a portrait format to get anywhere close to looking good. Considering all the other points, it’s really not worth putting in the time and effort for this? And, they will potentially sap the website users’ data just loading them up if they’re not on wifi. 

8. They’re outdated

Nobody wants an outdated website, do they? Remember when websites were tiny in the middle of the screen before mobile devices and ipads? That’s so old fashioned now and so are sliders! 

What is a good alternative to an image slider?

There are so many alternatives to sliders these days that still have impact, can convert better and be better for SEO. Here are some examples;

  • A banner image – one clear message with an optimised image will work much better than several. For SEO it’s better to have the text over the image rather than embedded/as part of the image, of course.
  • Some type of interaction from the user – perhaps you have a fab message as a call to action or a lead magnet which requires some type of interaction from the user? That’s fine, too. It needs to be clear/attention grabbing to be able to convert this early but it’s certainly an option.
  • Actual content – there’s nothing to stop you from going straight to content at the top of the page, especially if it’s great content. Websites these days are being stripped back to their bare bones for speed purposes and if plain content works for you – use it!
  • A lightweight animation/video. Something like an animated gif or a video, if it’s correctly compressed, might work just as well as a large unanimated image.

Whichever route you take, consider how it will look on all devices as it might need tweaking to look right/convert on a mobile or tablet.

If you need help removing or replacing a slider from your website, get in touch using the form below. 




Suzi Smart Bear

I'm Suzi - the owner of The Smart Bear.

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