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Sack the Slider: Alternatives to the Banner Carousel

The ubiquitous banner slider — great enabler of lazy marketing, faithfully cramming endless content into that all important hero slot with little hope of visibility, and less still of engagement. Much has been written about how ineffective sliders are; but what are the alternatives?

What’s the problem with sliders?

Sliders enable complacency — By making it feasible to stack multiple marketing messages into the same space, sliders make it all too easy to subvert both strategy and focus, breeding the illusion of accomplishment. In his popular blog post, Brad Frost surmises the issue wonderfully as an organisational crutch, illustrated by a board room where a group of directors each arguing the importance of their respective content decide to include it all rather than agree on a single unified direction, ending in hi-5s all round. Read Frost’s full post.

Sliders are simply ineffective — There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence and data available to support the hypothesis that users are disinclined to engage with slider content and call to actions; in fact the larger the slider dimensions, the more likely users are to ignore it — rather the opposite to the desired effect! A study by Erik Runyan at the Notre Dame University demonstrated that merely 1% of site visitors engaged with the landing page sliders on test. Furthermore, of the 1% who interacted with the slider at all, less than 5% engaged with a slide in second position or beyond.

Sliders offer a poor user experience — A full deck of often large image slides, and some fancy transition effects amount to some large files and all add up to an unnecessary drag on page load speed. Fast page load is essential to user experience, not least for mobile users. Online customer’s intolerance for waiting, coupled with Google’s confirmation that performance is an important search ranking factor amount to a big problem for businesses who don’t take performance seriously; and since we’ve already established there are no benefits to using a slider, the arguments against begin to stack up. This of course impacts businesses at all ends of the spectrum, Amazon famously attribute a sales uplift of 1% to every 100ms they can shave from their page load speed.

Forget the fold, think vertically.

Still believe user’s are unwilling to scroll? You have some catching up to do! British online retailer New Look is a shining example of digital marketing in the post-slider era. Lifestyle brand content is interspersed with promotional content in a rhythmic narrative which draws the user down the page — Vitally, these landing pages are continuously refreshed inline with the brand’s highly focused content strategy. You could well imagine some of the visuals on this page forming carousel slides in the past; but by exploding the slider and presenting content more directly, New Look have maximised visibility and engagement.

New Look Landing Page Slider Alternative
An overview New Look’s landing page reveals how rather than hide content in a slider, they have presented it down the page as a brand story for optimum visibility and conversions.

Lose the hero spot altogether

It’s hard to come round to the notion that users may respond positively (through increased conversions) to less marketing content — to not being sold to, particularly as content is typically the domain of the marketing team, a group invariably pre-programmed to squeeze as many messages as feasibly possible into the smallest of spaces. But as Maxis, creator of the Sim City franchise discovered through A/B testing, removal of all promotional content such as banners and sliders to leave simply a clear and functional customer journey triggered an immediate increase in online sales in excess of 40%.

Tell the story with video

Video content captivates and engages an audience more effectively than a slider could ever hope to achieve. Video content encourages ‘why’ branding, it tells the story of a brand without the inconvenience of a direct sales pitch. Dromoland Castle’s website leads with a fitting video landing page which communicates perfectly what it has to offer.

Dromoland Castle Video Landing Page

Don’t be fooled into thinking video landing pages could only be worthy and so effective for such grande and glamorous content as a castle retreat. With a little creativity the technique can be applied successfully to any business — however seemingly banal, as excellently demonstrated by Eagle Cleaning.

Eagle Cleaning Video Landing Page