Apr 12 : 2020

Why Sliders Are Bad For Web User Experience

UI/UX Design Self Improvement Motivation

In this time and age where everything can and is done online, businesses must have functioning websites that their clients can turn to for either information or to access their products and/or services.

However, it’s not just enough that a brand’s website is “working”, it also needs to have a web design that’s user-friendly and can easily be navigated. Therefore, user experience is a key factor that needs to be considered when it comes to web design.

When it comes to web design, one of the more divisive aspects is the use of sliders and how it affects the web user experience. While it’s true they once were vital in the success of any web design, developers’ opinions have since changed.

Joe Rinaldi, UX Designer for HubSpot and several other websites and CMS, pointed out that sliders actually take away from the smoothness of a website’s user experience.

So, why exactly are sliders bad for web user experience? These are my thoughts based on my experience of working on a wide range of web projects and what people with bigger brain than mine also think of them.

Brief overview: they suck and you should avoid them as much as possible.

..Unless you work for Netflix and you have to show over 300 movies on a single screen. Time to move on for general web experience.

Strap in.

Why Sliders Are Bad For UX Illustration by: Roman Serebryakov

They Only Serve as a Distraction For Your Visitors

Placing a series of moving images on your website’s homepage might seem a good idea to capture your audience’s attention and get your message across, but it might actually have the opposite effect. This is because when users come to a page, chances are, they’re already looking for something specific, and these image sliders on your homepage are only serving to distract them from what they’re looking for.

After all, the human eye reacts to movement, and while this has been helpful in humanity’s survival, it only adds unnecessary and unsolicited effort on the part of the users, taking away from a smooth and efficient browsing experience. Moreover, unless it’s the first slide, the rest of the images displayed will only be ignored by most visitors of your site.

Therefore, sliders aren’t the most efficient way to get important information across to your audience as many of them will ignore it, especially if it resembles an ad. After all, banner blindness is still very much a thing. This is because since so many things are competing for their attention, users have learned to filter out the components they perceive to be irrelevant to their purposes on your sites, like ads and sliders, while focusing on the important aspects like the search bars, navigation bars, and others.

Sliders Are Not Mobile-friendly: Even If The Site Is Optimized For Mobile

Let's have some fun here, shall we?

Can you imagine for a few seconds please, because that's how much my example literally will last.

You are driving on a highway and you know you must be approaching the highway interchange, there are 4 possible exits to follow but you only need the one that takes you to your destination in the best, shortest, fastest way possible.

You have few seconds to make that decision. You go left, right, stay in the same lane, merge to the right few more lanes etc.

Now imagine making the same decision but you have to wait for that sign to show direction for one exit at a time. You either have to wait another 4 seconds to see another sign and hope that's they one you need to follow, or wait 8 more seconds to see the sign after the second one in case that's not the you needed.

Oh yeah, don't forget, you are driving 70 miles an hour and you just missed a possible sign and you have to circle back to the interchange.

Fun, right?

Not really.

So why are we making it hard for our users to make that decision? If you know your users are more likely trying to find how to pay their bill or submit a question, or ask for the next date for the booking, make it so they can do it in a second or less without trying to find it or wait for your slider to show appropriate information.

With mobile devices this point is super important: people don't have as much patience ot can't waste time because they are more likely to be doing another task while using their phones.

With everyone’s busy schedules and the prevalence of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, is it any wonder that around half – often more than that – of website traffic comes from mobile devices? Due to this, it’s important then, that any business’s website is optimized for mobiles if they want to remain competitive in this industry.

With that said, using sliders on your site, no matter how mobile-optimized it is, is generally a bad idea, especially when it comes to user experience. This is because sliders take a huge chunk of your mobile site’s bandwidth, making it slower to load, especially taking into account that mobile data isn’t as fast as WiFi connections.

This can result in frustrations on the part of your visitors, leading them to abandon your website in favor of more mobile-friendly web pages. And isn’t the purpose of your mobile site is to make it more convenient and accessible for your clients?

They’re Not Meant For Accessibility

Since sliders feature rapidly moving images, they can pose some issues in terms of accessibility, especially for those with visual impairments. Moreover, these sliders are often controlled by a series of small buttons or arrows that aren’t as contrasting with the background, making it difficult for them to see. Not only that, but accessibility expert Jared Smith even went far to say that carousels, which is a term for image sliders, can pose accessibility issues to users who use keyboards and screen readers.

So, if the most important information on your website is found on these images, then it will pose challenges and issues when it comes to navigation for any visitors of your site that have visual impairments.

They Remove The Control From The Users

When it comes to designing websites, one of the most important rules is to give web users control. For your visitors to have the best experience while visiting your site, they must have control of their own browsing experience. This means they should have a say in where they go on your site, what links they click on, and how quickly or slowly they take in the content of your site.

With sliders, you’re not giving them much of a choice regarding the content since they either move too quickly or too slowly, removing the control from the user and taking away from their experience. UX Movement believes that carousels are designed to engage users with the help of featured content. The problem, however, is that a carousel’s auto-sliding feature won’t stop even after the user has taken control of it. In a sense, this takes away user control, thereby preventing users to browse at their own pace.

Final Thoughts

If you want your visitors to have a more optimal experience with your website, then ditching the sliders may be the way to go. While they may seem like they’re a good idea, they do more harm than good for your visitors’ web experience and this can lead to them having a less than favorable impression of your brand.

After all, your website is an extension of your brand, and part of that is taking into account their experience with it.