Should Your Site Showcase a Slider (Rotating Banner)?

07 Jun 2012, Posted by EPoff in Blogging, Design, Marketing, Web development
CNET's Main Page with Rotating Banner

The **IT** feature on most websites today is the slider (aka rotating banner).  They are easy to install, work on most browsers (thanks to many jQuery plugins), and make a site look new, updated and fresh.  CEOs and business owners seem to love them and they are everywhere!   The idea is a smart one: in a small amount of web real estate you can showcase several main features of your site.  You will often see this type of technology used on news sites featuring a few main stories or on business sites showing a myriad of services or features offered.

One prime example is CNET which features multiple stories in one place.  It is almost expected that news websites have rotating stories.  Users want to see what’s new and will probably wait and scroll through the information presented until a story appears that is of interest.

CNET's Main Page with Rotating Banner

CNET’s Main Page with Rotating Banner

But what if your site isn’t a news site? What if you are trying to promote yourself or sell products? Is this “every web page must have” feature something you MUST include on your site? Not necessarily. The average attention span of a Web browser is about 8-10 seconds (according to a 2011 Sparklogix article) which gives you very little time to rope your guest in with your slider. Just because it’s the hot thing for websites right now, doesn’t mean you have to get sucked into a trend that isn’t right for you and your site.  Here are a few quick tips to help you determine if a slider is right for your site.

Good Reasons to Incorporate a Slider or Rotating Banner

» Multiple Featured News Stories

» Multiple Featured Blog Posts (with pictures)

» Real Estate pictures of properties

» Images of artwork you are promoting

» Images of logos/websites/designs you are promoting

» Slides which do not depend on the previous or next to get your message across

This is not an exhaustive list, but you should get the idea.  Any of the above options should work nicely on a site where the slider and content complement each other.

Reasons to Avoid a Slider or Rotating Banner

» Multiple stepped process for your site or product broken into multiple slides …users will not wait for the second slide to see what they need to do next

» Slides for the sake of slides – if you have pictures that have nothing to do with the purpose of your site don’t use them.  They’ll turn off your user and drive them away from your site.

» Only having one or two slides, it’s not necessary.  Don’t waste the users time with prospects of more, when you don’t have anything else to offer.

» Having too many items to place in the slider and rotating the items too quickly.  It will overwhelm the user and keep them from focusing on the main content (see Santorum’s site in the Website Smackdown Blog)

Overall, sliders can work to your site’s advantage – giving it that polished professional feel.  Just make sure that the slider complements the site’s purpose and doesn’t distract from the overall intent.

Do you have a slider and wonder if it’s working for your site?  Share it with us in the comments below!

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