Do Sliders Sabotage Sales? The Answer Isn’t So Simple

By: Deborah O’Malley| 2019

Do Sliders Sabotage Sales? 

The answer isn’t so simple. . .

In this article, you’ll see several historic A/B test case studies examples that support the notion sliders don’t convert. And, you’ll find out the one exception to the rule.


Image Sliders

As we dawn into a new decade, there’s utility in examining CRO design trends that have persisted over the years.

With 2020 hindsight (pun intended) we can see what works well, and won’t doesn’t in CRO strategy.

One design element that has stood the test of time is the image slider.

Sliders, also called image carousels, or rotating offers, are web elements where the pictures displayed automatically rotate through a series of images on the web page.

This popular women’s clothing retailer, Sammy Dress, shows an example of a slider:

sammy_dress

 You can see at the bottom of the image, the small white circles indicate there are three images that will continue to rotate through and display on the site.


The History of Sliders

In 2016, sliders were the most widely used web design element, according to WSI World. Fast forward several years later. And, still today, sliders remain a persistent design trend. 

Web designers love them because multiple products, or features, can be easily integrated into one format. Management finds them effective for showcasing all products in one place. And, stakeholders love them because they can brag their product is featured on the homepage

Customers. Not so much. 

In fact, research by WSI found only 1% of visitors clicked on a five-image slider. And, of that group, 89% clicked on only the first image.

Articles like this one will tell you “Why Sliders Make Your Website Suck.” But, no known research, to date, has quantitatively proven – with real life A/B test case studies – the conversion effect of sliders.

Until now. . .

This article presents a compressive analysis of several A/B test case studies, from around the world, examining the utility of sliders, dating historically from 2013 onwards.

The analysis overwhelmingly shows: sliders do not work! They’re a major conversion distraction and sabotage conversion rates. 

There is, however, one exception to this rule. Sliders may be effective for strengthening social proof.


Do Sliders Work?

The answer is no! Mostly.

Assessing several slider studies from A/B test results in 2013, onwards, the evidence overwhelmingly shows, sliders do not work – except when used in one specific context.

Here’s what was found. . .


Early 2013 Slider Example

In 2013, the car company, Suzuki, did a trailblazing A/B study, testing their homepage to determine if a static hero image or slider performed best.

The team assessed several different static hero image layouts, testing them against the dynamic slider. 

Interestingly, they found that every static layout far outperformed the animated slider version!

suzuki_slider

Version A shows the slider format.

suzuki_static

 The variant (version B) shows the winning static image format.

Suzuki was the first in a succeeding series of studies to show that static images far outperform dynamic sliders.

In this test, the static image increased clicks into the product category pages by 28%, at 99.9% confidence.


From Cars to Clarks – Sliders Don’t Work

Fast forward to 2015 when the shoe retailer, Clarks, tested if changing an image carousel to a static banner would improve clickthrough rates (CTRs) and reduce bounce rates.

clarks_static

The results were telling! 

Switching from a dynamic image carousel, to a static banner increased, Clickthrough Rates (CTRs) 17.5%. Additionally, bounce rates declined a strong 16%, keeping more people shoe shopping.


Sliders Don’t Work – No Matter Your Conversion Goal

Static images seem to outperform sliders across industry verticals. 

Take this World Vision as an example.

In 2015, the non-profit charitable organization radically redesigned their site to increase sponsorship donations.

In addition to other design changes, the team found removing the slider bars — and replacing them with colorful, interactive text boxes — had a profound impact on conversions.

world_vision-static

The redesigned page (shown above) increased clicks on the sponsorship button by 60.4%, resulting in much higher donation rates!


Sliders Don’t Work – Anywhere in the World

No matter where you are on the globe, sliders appear to underperform.

In Belgium, the children’s furniture site, Emob4kids, conducted a slider test to examine whether a grid of static product images, featured on the homepage, out or underperformed the slider version.

embro_kids-static

What the team found was revealing.

Simply changing the image format from dynamic to static increased clicks by 187.9% and drove sales 75.07% higher!

Moving from Belgium to Britain, in 2019, GuessTheTest interviewed Owen Jones, the Global Customer Engagement Lead at Fidelity International. There was intense discussion around the effectiveness of sliders. Owen confirmed, in his experience — running hundreds of tests — sliders don’t work.

Hear here what Owen has to say about sliders:


Sliders on Mobile

An additional important consideration of sliders is to examine their effectiveness on mobile. On desktop sliders are conversion killers.

On mobile, the situation is even more grim. With small screens, it becomes very difficult to effectively portray a large amount of information through rotating imagery.

On this Visa Infinite site, you can see, on a large desktop screen, there’s a lot of competing information for the view to take in. This distracting effect is compounded by the slider.

visa_infinite-desktop

Hero image slider view on desktop

When the same image is squished down into a mobile view that much more of the context is lost. And scrolling experience becomes problematic because the user’s fingers might accidentally tap of on the small white arrows (bringing them into the next slider view) rather than on the CTA button:

visa_infinite-mobile

Hero image slider view on mobile


If Sliders Don’t Work, How Should You Display Your Products?

Feature Multiple Product Images

So, the question becomes: how should you display several products at once, if you don’t use a slider?

One possible option is to create a grid display of your top-selling categories.

In this case study by Dell, the team tested featuring a hero image (right image) versus a grid (left image) of their top 8 best-selling products.

dell_case_study

The grid version far outperformed the hero image layout, increasing CTRs by 20%. As a result, Revenue Per Visitor (RPV) soared 5.47%!

Feature Multiple CTA Buttons

Consider also featuring a static hero image with multiple Call To Action (CTA) buttons. 

In this test, for Sabon NYC, a luxury bath products retailer, the team examined whether it was best to feature just bath and shower products, or bring users to multiple product categories.

single_cta

Version A – One CTA button  Versions

multiple_cta

B – Multiple CTA buttons

Can you guess which version won?

If you guessed version B, with the 3-buttons, you got it!

On desktop, the 3-button design generated a 7.37% higher CTR, compared to the 1-button banner.

On mobile, the CTR uplift was even higher, at 11.67%.

The increased CTR translated to significantly higher revenue per session. With the winning three-button design, revenue increased by 23%, compared to the one-button banner.

Results achieved 95% confidence.

These examples shows static images, or CTA buttons may be a much better design choice for displaying multiple product categories, than using a slider.


The One Exception – Sliders for Social Proof

If you’re up on the latest web design trends, you’ve likely seen a lot of sites using “testimonial carousels”  — where the user can click, or scroll, through testimonials, or customer reviews. 

Somewhat akin to a slider, a testimonial carousel appears something like this:

testimonial_slider

Since the form and functionality of this interactive customer review carousels is so close to a slider, a natural question is: do they work?

Turns out, they do!

Although there’s limited evidence to say they always work, an A/B testing looking at the use of interactive testimonials on a long-form landing page found, the scrolling testimonial slider bar lifted product orders 16.2% over the version with the fixed format. As a result, RPV increased a strong 30.7%.interactive_testimonials-sliders

Interactive testimonial slider section converted better than static testimonial section

However, to definitively determine if scrolling review sliders are the best site solution, more testing needs to be done. 

If you’re planning to test the effect of your turning your testimonial section into a dynamic slider format, let us know and share your results. We’ll publish your case study, helping bring you greater brand exposure.


Conclusion: Stop the Sliders!

So, there you have it. Strong evidence showing sliders almost never work. The one exception may be implementing a scrolling slider system to display testimonials or customer reviews.

However, before implementing anything on your site, you should always test.

When testing, consider how your audience will interact with the feature, what their needs and expectations are, and how you can optimize the format to create the best possible experience.


But Wait. . . My Boss Client Insists on Using a Slider

Despite all the evidence against sliders, if your boss, or client still insists you use a slider, send them this article and make sure they read it.

If they’re still not convinced, follow these eight slider use recommendations best practices from Baymard Insitute:

  1. Choose the slide sequence carefully
  2. Ensure the carousel slides are not the only way to access site features and content
  3. Consider using the auto-rotation feature only when animating the display of the images doesn’t diminish attention to the featured products
  4. Pause auto-rotation as a user hovers over the image to avoid the image changing as the user is about to click
  5. Stop auto-rotation after any active user interaction
  6. Consider timing and make sure images don’t rotate too quickly or slowly. You might need to time the rotation for each image differently
  7. Ensure you never use auto-rotation for mobile sites – it’s difficult for users to hover and tap at the right time 
  8. Support swipe gestures and text legibility, on mobile, if reusing artwork from the desktop site

Hope you’ve found this article interesting and useful. Now, go get rid of that slider on your site!

And, if you’re still not convinced, check out this site to quiz yourself on whether you should use a carousel.

Hope you’ve found this information useful and informative. Please share your thoughts and comments in the section below. 

By: Deborah O’Malley| 2019

Do Sliders Sabotage Sales? 

The answer isn’t so simple. . .

In this article, you’ll see several historic A/B test case studies examples that support the notion sliders don’t convert. And, you’ll find out the one exception to the rule.


Image Sliders

As we dawn into a new decade, there’s utility in examining CRO design trends that have persisted over the years.

With 2020 hindsight (pun intended) we can see what works well, and won’t doesn’t in CRO strategy.

One design element that has stood the test of time is the image slider.

Sliders, also called image carousels, or rotating offers, are web elements where the pictures displayed automatically rotate through a series of images on the web page.

This popular women’s clothing retailer, Sammy Dress, shows an example of a slider:

archived_tests-paywall_image jpg
oh_snap-mobile

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