Rotating home page sliders continue to be an extremely popular choice for websites. This is reflected in the fact that most WordPress themes now come with a slider plugin included. Today we look at why (and how) you may want to include a slider on your site.

Let me be up front, I HATE home page sliders. Most of the research show they negatively effect: conversions, user experience, SEO and clicks. If you’re on the fence about whether you should use a rotating slider, just say no.

Now that I’ve prefaced my own dislike for home page sliders, let’s look at some of the evidence in support of these digital flash cards.

Amazon Uses a Home Page Rotating Slider

Amazon is known as the king of A/B testing. As far back as 2006 they were pushing their agile development and how they constantly experiment with their site design. If Amazon has something on their website, you can probably guarantee that they have conducted some sort of A/B testing on it.
 

Amazon-Home-page-slider

This is a (low res GIF) screen shot showing just a few of the slides on the Amazon home page. It rotates approximately every 5 seconds and on the live site the rotation stops when you hover over the image.

Some other observations:

  1. Images slide to the left (versus fading, etc.)
  2. Slides automatically rotate (versus needing to be manually rotated out)
  3. Slides are not related but instead are showing a variety of deals, offers and products

Going back to the point on testing, Amazon is testing what works best for them. Just because something works for them, doesn’t mean it makes sense for your website. Also, it is quite likely that the slider is a paid advertising space and therefore how Amazon measures the effectiveness of their slider includes factors not relevant for many other websites. (i.e. advertising revenue)

A Small Slider Outperforms a Static Image

Conversion Science conducted a study where they observed a 61% increase in sales using a rotating slider versus a static image. To get these results they tested different configurations and re-ordered the slides, making sure to show the highest performing slide first.
Some other key takeaways:

  1. The rotating slide is quite small (519 px wide) & only takes up one column on the page, not the full header (i.e. reducing the negative effects on SEO)
  2. The transition is a slow fade (versus a sudden slide effect) & the rotation time is 10 seconds, double what the Amazon slider rotation time was
  3. The article stresses the importance of conducting A/B testing and recommends that unless you are willing to analyze and test, you are better off using a static image

Slider Outperforms a Technical Video

In a 2012 experiment by VMO, they tested the conversion rate of a rotating slider versus a technical video. The results: a 35% increase in signups for the group that was shown the rotating sliders.

Some key points:

  1. The slides were telling a story and not a rotating gallery of random offerings, like most home page sliders
  2. The company was already concerned that the video was not of high enough quality and possibly too technical
  3. In my opinion, the video page looks pretty cluttered and the video itself is way too long for an introduction to a product (over 4 minutes long)

Rotating Sliders Can Be OK, But….

I would never recommend using a rotating home page slider. But, if you’re dead set on having a slider make sure to conduct A/B Testing to determine the best layout, order, etc. Remember, if you’re not going to be testing your design you're probably better off going with a static image.