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Carousels Don’t Convert

Call them what you want: carousels, sliders, or image rotators, we’ve all seen those rotating slideshows on the homepages of websites. They grew in popularly a few years ago, but numerous usability studies now show they annoy users and are hurting your business’s bottom line.

The homepage of your website should be tailored to your goals. Strategic and practical, your website goals should be tracked and measured. However, too often the homepage becomes a mess of competing messages and offers that don’t align with company goals.

The Issues

99% of users won't click on website sliders
99% of Users Won’t Click Through
Studies show that on average only 1% of users will click on a Carousel slide. Of that 1%, the majority click on the first slide. Reviewing the analytics of our former homepage carousel (hey, no one is perfect), we saw similar results. However, when we compared our website to that of Mortgage MarketSmart, a website we recently developed with a single, focused call to action, we saw that their click through rate was 14 times higher than ours.

They are Ignored
Usability and eye tracking studies reveal that sliders receive very few eye fixations. In one study, participants reported that the company was not offering any promotions after reviewing a homepage with a carousel containing various promotional offers. Because homepage sliders often feel like digital billboards, they are treated as such and ignored. Do you remember any of the billboards you passed on your way to work this morning? Didn’t think so.

Lack of Strategy
Carousels are often used as a way to please multiple people or departments. When going through a website redesign, various departments all want to dominate the homepage—carousels are used to please everyone because, in theory, everyone gets to be dominant. However, sliders decrease click-throughs and impressions, making it a loss for everyone. This is commonly the result of a weak or nonexistent strategy.

Hidden Content
The nature of sliders is to hide and show content at various fixed intervals. This means relevant content is often hidden from users. Additionally, because everyone reads at different speeds, it can be difficult to get the timing right. This leads to user frustration and has a negative impact on accessibility and SEO. Hidden Content in Website Sliders

Alternatives

Develop a Web Strategy
Develop strategic digital goals that relate to company objectives and challenges. By determining what your business is trying to accomplish—be it leads, awareness, engagement, or something else—having a clear strategy will make your website more effective.

Prioritize Content
Determine what is important and what is just filler content. If this is something your team is struggling with, try taking a Mobile First approach.

Try Alternative Layouts
Using Alternative Layouts Instead of Content SlidersIf you just can’t narrow your message down, try using a layout that allows you to display multiple blocks at once. In some circumstances, multiple pieces of information need to be displayed at once. News sites, for example, can leverage layouts to easily and clearly display relevant information simultaneously.

When carousels were popular—and before data was available—we used rotators on many of our sites, even our own. Things change. Web trends are constantly coming in and out of style and new research is always being conducted—and it’s our job to stay on top of everything to recommend the best strategies for our clients. We’re certainly not saying you should re-do your website right now solely because you have a web slider. But there’s no better time than now to work on your messaging and website goals.