Image Sliders: The Pro & Cons.

By October 21, 2014 Design, Interactive Media No Comments

Sliders, otherwise known as a carousel, or image slider, are ubiquitous throughout the web. If you’ve spent any time designing or developing websites than you’ve more than likely implemented a website slider or two.

The debate over the use of sliders in websites has been raging for some time. Spend a few minutes Googling and you will easily find innumerable arguments for and against the use of sliders.

We like to take a balanced approach to the use of sliders in a website build. There are important questions and design considerations to ask and evaluate: what are the goals of the client? What are they trying to communicate? Is the use of a slider an effective design decision when communicating the goals and vision of the client? Are there better alternatives?

These are only a few of the many questions you will have to ask and consider when it comes to fulfilling your clients vision. Remember, every client website has unique goals and communication needs, and this will impact your design decisions with regard to slider usage just as it will every other design decision you make.

Today I would like to lay out a balanced list of positives and negatives when it comes to using a slider in your site design.

Without further ado, let us begin with the positives.

Slider Positives:

  • Highly effective when showcasing product photos and multiple images of the same idea or product.
  • Highly effective when showcasing a gallery of images for a portfolio.
  • Sliders works well when it comes to storytelling.
  • Sliders are effective for selling visually based products and services. Example: photography/real estate sites.
  • Sliders are an easy way to add dynamic content that catches the eye, and are effective for highlighting new content.

Positive slider examples:
Effective, smooth and eyecatching. The AirBnB slider delivers information and tells a story. It effectively combines images and video. It has a consistent call to action throughout.
As listed above: real estate. This slider is right to the point with a single call to action – View Featured Properties. When a person visits a real estate site they’re going to be looking for images of properties. The visitor to is presented with actual images of purchasable properties right when they visit the site. There is no confusion as to what the call to action is.

Slider negatives:

  • A slider can dramatically slow down a site and can have a negaitve impact on mobile devices.
  • Sliders can look like advertisements and be ignored.
  • Sliders often times ignore a visitors need for control and setting there own reading pace.
  • Sliders can give visitors too many options.
  • Sliders have been noted for low conversion rates.

Negative slider examples:
We came across this site as it was noted in a number of places throughout the web as a very poor example of slider usage. There is actually a slider within a slider on the homepage. The information becomes muddled and visually lost; the visitor has too many options. The large slider is hardly noticable as a slider. The navigation barely registers as navigation for the large slider.
The Walmart slider also presents a series of slides with no relationship to one another. The slide navigation is hard to locate. Visit any internal page and you’re presented with even more sliders and slides. This is an overwhelming amount of information and noise. Most likely the impact of the sliders on a mobile device is going to be noticable.

The Wrap

Each client site is going to be unique in its goals and communication needs. Because of that, a designer will need to evaluate, on an individual basis, the effectiveness of slider implementation in meeting the client’s vision. Our list of pros and cons are simply a handful of considerations one might ask when evaluating and designing a site.