Sliders have been a huge part of almost every new design we’ve been seeing (guilty of it ourselves). They offer a way to deliver a large amount of content in a relatively small space, and look absolutely stunning in almost any design. They take the place of the older design staple, the header image.
In a recent design, one of our clients told us “yeah it looks great, but I don’t really see it being useful”, and this got us thinking. In most of these designs, if the slider where to be removed, what would be lost? How often does a visitor actually look at what is presented in a slider. Myself, unless it’s presenting relevant information (products on sale, news items) I tend to just skip over this and move on. Why is that? because I want to get to the content. I go to website with a purpose, and it’s rare that a slider will help me in my quest for information.
I’m not saying that all sliders are evil, or all sliders must go, because if used correctly, and only where they can be of benefit they can be a great tool. BestBuy uses it to great effect to showcase specials, Yahoo.com uses it to pack many news articles into a small space, and I’m sure there are many other great examples out there. But for every great example there are many that are poor examples where the slider is the most prominent element on the page, and sadly displays nothing of importance to the site visitors.
This new outlook on sliders has made us question several design decisions we made, and resulted in us removing it completely from our own site. It just goes to show that every element must have a purpose, and if the slider (or other element) doesn’t have a purpose, don’t put it in, even if that is what the “current trend” is.