Large slider graphics or carousels as they’re sometimes known, have become a ubiquitous part of website design in recent years. This large design element showcases a range of slides that automatically scroll or rotate over a three to a five-second time frame. Yes, they can look great and showcase all the latest products or promotions the website has to offer but the question is do they actually drive engagement and provide a conversion-based purpose or are they simply there for aesthetic?
To explore this question a little further, we set out to analyse data from four eCommerce websites with prominent slider graphics on the homepage as well as other static design elements. We specifically looked at differences between engagement with the carousel compared and engagement with static images on the same page.
Each of the eCommerce stores we looked at selling a very different set of products and operate in completely different marketplaces. This meant we could isolate any impact the market or products had on the effectiveness of the carousel and we, of course, measured data for each site covering the same period of time.
We recorded the interaction rate (the percentage of total page visitors that click) on each slide of the carousel against the interaction rate on the same amount of static images used across the homepage. For example, if there were four rotating images in the carousel, four static images on that page would be analysed. Below is a table displaying the interaction rate of the slider graphics against the static images
From the results, it’s clear to see that users are less likely to engage with a slider graphic than a static image across all four marketplaces. Combining the data from each of the websites we looked at, slider graphics generated an average interaction rate of 13.5% which was significantly less than the static images with an engagement rate of 65.4%. This is even more conclusive when you consider the above-the-fold prominence given to carousels over other static design elements but does it really mean that there’s no value at all to this well used and in some cases, much-loved design staple?
We decided to speak to one of our designers for a creative opinion…
“It doesn’t shock me that users don’t engage with slider graphics. For me, the area where the slider graphic is should make an instant impact and should clearly indicate to the users what the website is all about. In some cases, a well-designed carousel can do that but they can too easily become a place to simply list products or deals. If users are more likely to engage with a static image, this sort of insight should be used in future projects”
When scouring the internet for articles and opinions on the positives and negatives of slider graphics we weren’t surprised to find that most industry professionals we came across agreed with our results. The majority of sources we found suggested that carousels were a waste of page space and tend to bring nothing towards increasing a sites engagement levels. Here are a few of the quotes that we found…
“Whatever you may think about how sliders may look pretty or add a dynamic and lively element to your site is irrelevant if the slider doesn’t help move your visitors towards your conversion goal.”
Shane Melaugh (Co-Founder – Thrive Themes)
“Personally I am not a huge fan of website sliders on most websites. I find them distracting, annoying, and kitschy. Just because you can use it doesn’t mean you should.”
Patrick Coombe (CEO – Elite Strategies)
“One of the most prevalent design flaws in B2B websites is the use of carousels on the home page. Carousels are an ineffective way to target user personas, which ends up hurting the site’s SEO and usability.”
Harrison Jones (VP of Digital Marketing – MWI)
So there you have it, proof that slider graphics should be banned from all websites worldwide! Well maybe that’s taking things a bit far but it is at least an indication that things might be changing and that looking for new, more engaging design elements to replace the beloved carousel should be near the top of our agenda
The obvious next question is what should a site be using instead? We have published the follow-up article here for you to discover the great alternatives to the slider graphic!