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Does Using Image Sliders Reduce Conversions On A WordPress Site?

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Does Using Image Sliders Reduce Conversions On A WordPress Site?

Image Sliders are an incredibly popular way of displaying content on WordPress homepages. In recent years, it’s been hard to find a WordPress site, especially an eCommerce site, that doesn’t have an image slider or carousel in a prominent position. They are a convenient way of displaying information—offers or products—in a dynamic and visually interesting way, and adhere to the (somewhat dubious) rule that most content should be above the “fold”. As an alternative to visually boring and static blocks of text, sliders are very appealing.

Image slider Effectiveness

However, a recent blog post from Peep Laja at ConversionXL calls into question the effectiveness of using sliders and carousels for gaining conversions, and claims that they can have a significant detrimental effect on conversion rates. Peep is not alone in this opinion, and quotes a number of designers who agree.

Why Image sliders are so ineffective?

Two of the most significant problems with using sliders are banner blindness and the temporal rather than spatial presentation of information. It’s worth having a deeper look at these two factors.

Banner Blindness:

Most web designers should be familiar with the concept of banner blindness. It’s an effect that plagues online advertising and results in the extremely low click-through rate that modern advertisers see when compared to the rates they obtained in the early days of the Web. Banner blindness is an instance of what psychologists call habituation. Habituation is the decrease in an expected (and, in this case, desired) behaviour in response to a repeated stimulus. In a marketer’s ideal world, banner ads would consistently claim the attention of a site’s visitors, but for either conscious or subconscious reasons, they do not. Visitors often pay no attention at all to banner ads, even when they are contextually relevant.

Visitors to a website very rarely start reading at the top and systematically scroll down a site (check out the heat maps), examining and consuming all the information presented. They are looking for specific information or links, and tend to reject anything that is “banner-like” as an unlikely source of salient information. Carousels and sliders match the pattern of a banner ad, and are therefore ignored.

Temporal Presentation of Information

The second factor is the temporal presentation of information. That is, information presented across time, rather than across space, as with static images and text. Visitors tend to scroll around and hunt for what they need; they do not sit and look at a particular point on a page while it changes. They will see one or two of the slides, maybe. If you think of your own browsing experience, how often do you use a slider’s navigation to click through each of the items in search of information?

These two effects may contribute to sliders being an ineffective method of presenting information, especially when that information is intended to elicit particular actions from visitors, like a click or a purchase.

More Web design resources:

What do you think? Does Peep Laja have it right? Or do you have evidence that banners are an effective way of converting visitors? Let us know in the comments below.

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    { 7 comments… add one }

    • Callum

      I think sliders can not harm your conversions unless you have not optimized them. The most common mistakes are having multiple heading tags (h1) on the slides. This means that the page will have more than one h1 tag which confuses the crawling bots. I advise you not to include heading elements to the slides.

      Reply
    • emile

      Great post, but I don’t think this applies to all websites and I think it depends of the type of slider, etc. Grouping all sliders in one category is probably not accurate

      Reply
    • Jemma Taylor

      Now a days most of them are using sliders on their home page. That shows the latest posts which they have been post. That’s a good thought for user experience, they will easily find the information on the website!!

      Reply
    • Enrico

      I can see where Peep is coming from, I tend to block out everything that resembles a banner, too – but only when I’m online to buy something. If I visit a site for information, let’s say about culture or politics, I often look at the sliders or skip through them for a while to get a visual impression of what’s waiting there.

      Reply
    • Moravcsik Andra

      Great post. I love industry posts that discuss more psychological aspects, so I loved reading about the two types of disinhibition.

      Reply
    • Sumita

      This is right.Most of the people does not mind the banner ads these days.But the image sliders can attract attention unlike banners as they are mostly on the top and prominent.

      Reply
    • George Ortiz

      Finally, someone that writes about sliders! We’ve tracked a lot WordPress sites over at PressTrends – http://www.presstrends.me – and have noticed a lot lower conversions on sites using sliders. Great points above on the temporary presentation. I think it also limits the amount of content distributed to the reader. Great article!

      Reply

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