Sliders are one of the most common options for a website, and if you’re building a new site for your business, you no doubt are considering whether to use one. While commonly found on websites and in apps, a lot of people say no to sliders. Let’s break down the arguments for and against sliders.

What is a Website Slider?

A slider is an element of your website that slides, usually moving the image to the left in exchange for a new one. You might refer to this as a gallery or a carousel. If you buy a pre-built website theme from a company, you will certainly have a slider option. WordPress themes, especially, offer sliders by the thousands.

And why not? Many people like the way sliders look on a website. Sliders also offer a way to convey more information without forcing a user to scroll or navigate. Some argue sliders keep people’s attention because the movement forces more focus.

Sliders for Apps

In apps, the term “slider” refers more often to navigation, the way a user will slide a page across to get to the next one. Sliders are often used in apps when the user is choosing from among several options, especially if those options are a range. The visual element of sliders makes them a fun choice.

Why Say No to Sliders?

Despite their nearly ubiquitous use on websites, you don’t need a slider. Many web and app designers argue against them for many reasons.

On Websites:

  • Eye tracking studies indicate people tend to ignore sliders in favor of the top navigation. Only 1 percent of people click on a slide.
  • Sliders might be considered annoying.
  • Studies are showing sliders are bad for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • The format may not be helpful for users who are seeking something specific and can’t find it due to a distracting slider.
  • People often put information in sliders that users don’t find valuable, while pushing useful content below the fold.
  • If a user wants to click on something in the slider, he or she may not realize it until the slider moves on, causing frustration. Your user must spend time figuring out if this slider uses dots or squares or arrows and find those to click back to the slider he/she wanted to see.
  • Sliders don’t always work on mobile devices.
  • They slow down your site.

In Apps:

  • Sliders are often difficult to use because they require precision to land on the choice you want.
  • Some sliders are confusing to navigate. Users often assume they can only drag a slider in one direction.

When and How to Use Sliders

Based on this information, you may assume it’s best to skip sliders altogether. If you’re talking about the website carousel/slider at the top, yes, you probably should. However, there are some times when sliders are useful, both on websites and in apps.

  • Sliders can help when you have several options for users. Sliders give users a way to see all those options quickly. These work particularly well if you’re choosing a range. For example, you often find sliders in mortgage calculators. The user can select a range of his or her down payment instead of trying to type in a number.
  • Sliders are useful if measurements do not have to be precise, such as those you see on Tylko to help choose a bookcase size.
  • Sliders are a reliable choice if your options increase in value or are a continuum, such as temperature. The left-to-right options can denote slowest to fastest or lowest to highest, offering a clearer path for users. When you set the ringer and notification volumes on your phone, you use a slider because it is a range. A precise number is less meaningful than the visual representation of loud or quiet.
  • Sliders don’t take up a lot of space, which is useful for apps.
  • You’ve no doubt encountered a dropdown that seems a mile long, such as those to choose your country, for example. While a slider might not be the best choice here (map, anyone?), this example might help you consider the ease for your end user.
  • With the right animation, a slider can help customers choose from among different plans. By sliding across a bar, he or she can see options and prices for each.
  • Sliders can be used to look at 3D versions of objects on websites, giving users a way to turn the object and see all sides.
  • Make sure your slider button indicates whether it moves forward, backward, or both.
  • Make sure you consider that a thumb is covering the slider button. What can the customer see while actually using the slider if he or she has large thumbs?
  • Make sure your slider offers immediate visual confirmation.

If you use a website slider/carousel, avoid the little circles or squares. Instead, use labels on each slide that explain what the user can expect. Make sure your slider is visually appealing.

If you’re ready to start your next web or app project and wonder what to use instead of a website slider, contact us to discuss ideas that convert.


Pete Peranzo

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