(This post may include affiliate links. Here's my disclosure statement for more info.)
Every web developer and designer dreads it. It always comes though… a client requests a slider be put on their website. And they are rarely talked out of it. But dear reader, I will try to talk you out of it today.
Sliders, or more accurately yet less often called carousels, are a slideshow (usually in place of a main hero banner) on your webpage. It was really cool when we all learned how to code it (especially with just CSS) but now we know better. Here’s why:
Outdated as Heck
Sliders are so 2015. I’m sorry guys but they are just out of fashion- with good reason! Using an out of style design element on your website (or Etsy shop page) makes it look like you’re behind the times or haven’t kept your website updated. One of the biggest goals with any website or shop storefront is to build trust. Sliders will not do this for you if they are being used in an outdated way.
Please Believe Me: No One Will Read It
One of the reasons why sliders are so attractive to people is because it’s a way to display more information in the same real estate. This is not bad thinking! As we know, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter so there is an urgency to get the message out as quickly as possible.
But it is this very reason that sliders will likely be ineffective. Sliders are either timed to go to the next slide or triggered by a button. I bet you cannot think of one time you’ve really pressed the arrow to go to the next slide or waited 5 long seconds for the next image. If you do, you may remember a pang of annoyance when you were forced to do so.
No one is reading your sliders. Users will scroll right on by and you will have missed your opportunity to tell them the important things you wanted to tell them.
Big Brands Do Not Use Sliders
Go to Best Buy, the Atlantic or Apple’s website. Do they use ONLY sliders as their hero? No. They may use it but it is never the main hero. It will take at most 30% of the real estate. When sliders are used now they are used in a thoughtful way for a specific reason. Amazon keeps you shopping forever with their endless “Recommended for You” carousel.
Major brands have in-house teams of designers and developers. They have so much at stake (and research) with their websites. If they are designing in a certain way, it means something. Usually “this is engaging and converts”.
A special note to Etsy sellers.
Etsy does offer a layout builder you can pay for that includes this slider feature. Do not purchase this feature if you only want to use the slider. Just like my last two paragraphs, think about how on Etsy’s very own home page does NOT have a slider anywhere. Etsy doesn’t even use it except similarly like Amazon to feature more products to keep you shopping.
So can you use a carousel ever?
Yes. This blog post is mainly talking about large sliders on landing pages acting as the hero section. Like I said above, there are specific reasons carousels are being used today. As a small business or Etsy seller, you probably will never need it. Most of my clients rarely ever do.
What Do I Do Instead?
I’m glad you asked! In fact, I wrote an entire blog post on what to do instead.