When it comes to website design, a content slider at the top of the homepage has, historically, been an extremely popular request. Over the last 10 years, a content slider has probably been added to over 80% of the websites I’ve developed, and a search on WordPress.org for “content slider” plugins will yield dozens of options. I even went so far as to develop my own content slider solution in an effort to minimize bloat and create a better, less-confusing user experience.
That being said, I will intentionally steer clients away from a content slider placed front and center on their new website. Why? Because for 9 out of 10 websites, I believe it’s unnecessary.
Personally, I find the majority of content sliders to be distracting and I believe the potential for overloading site visitors with too much and/or unimportant information is too great a temptation.
If a potential customer is visiting your website for the first time, you have just one short chance to capture their attention. The last thing your website should do is blast them with a ton of information moving on and off the screen. Your message should be clear, concise, and stationary. Enable your customers to quickly and easily absorb what you offer, capture their attention, and guide them to take action in order to collect additional information.
So are content sliders completely useless?
I don’t believe so. There are websites out there that do a great job of utilizing a content slider at the top of their homepage, and that success is often driven by incredible visual design. But for most websites, I would argue that content sliders should not be used for the “primary” (most important) information and should be reserved for “secondary” (less important) information that supports or expands on the primary message. Some examples may include:
- Photo gallery
- Product display (ie. multiple views of something you’ve created or are selling)
- Project portfolio
- Customer testimonials
What about the future of content sliders?
The current trend of content sliders could undoubtedly be argued, and where you stand on the subject may come down largely to personal preference. While a number of the “most popular WordPress themes” still demo a content slider on the homepage or tout the capability of adding one, I believe content sliders are losing popularity as websites take on a simpler, modern approach to both visual design and the transference of information.
If that proves to be the case, it’s one decline I’ll stand behind.