Meet Tim Croteau, a Web Project Manager for eMagine. He’s also a musician, pop culture fiend and very prone to ranting bluntly throughout the day. Because his rants are known to be pretty entertaining and educational, we decided to give him his own monthly series where he can throw his own pithy party. So without further ado, welcome to the party – Tim’s Pithy Party!

Homepage sliders.

Stop, you guys.

Seriously. Enough. If the biggest thing on the top of your homepage is a slider, I probably hate your website more than I would have otherwise.

Your homepage’s #1 job is to quickly get me to content I care about. A slider’s job is to relate a limited series of thoughts/concepts over a predetermined amount of time. Those two concepts don’t play nicely together.

Websites commonly use homepage sliders to “help” get people into the site. “We’ll make a slide for each of our markets/products/solutions/etc.! Stock photos all around! More determined-looking people climbing mountains!”

Here’s why sliders suck

With a decent slider navigation mechanism:

I click on the thing I was interested in, and instead of being brought to the best content you’ve got, I’ve got to wait while another big pretty image fades in. Then, I ignore your pithy marketing blah-blah, and find the button that actually takes me to what I wanted. Thanks for making that take as long as possible.

Without a slider navigation:

Now I can’t even select the slide I want. What do I get instead? Dots.

You know the dots. The “you’re on slide 7 of 134” dots. That little row of Tic-Tacs on the bottom of the slide. The ones that give you ZERO information about what’s on the next slide, so all you can do is wait or blindly click and hope something interesting pops in. These are meant to tell me where I am in a series of slides; they aren’t navigation. I repeat – the little dots are NOT navigation.

No, it doesn’t matter if you link them. They’re like 10 unclickable pixels in diameter. Stop it. Not navigation.

Alternatives to sliders

  • Got different audiences (personas/industries/markets) you’re targeting? Show some clearly labeled buttons/icons with a bit of descriptive text. I can see them all, choose the one I want, and get to the good content. No slider.
  • Got different products/services/solutions you’re looking to promote? Show some clearly labeled buttons/icons with a bit of descriptive text. I can see them all, choose the one I want, and get to the good content. No slider.

Notice the trend? Just link me to the good stuff. Don’t link me to a page-choking teaser of the good stuff, so I can then find the link to the real good stuff. I’ve got better things to do than sit here using your website for 10 minutes.

Occasions when a slider is ok

(note that none of these deserve the prime “banner” real estate on your homepage)

  • Rotating through relevant customer testimonials? Slide ’em.
  • Got some high-profile client logos? Slide ’em.
  • Got links to some great posts on your social platforms? Slide ’em.

The Exception

There is one (count ’em, ONE) situation where I feel a slider is effective as the main banner on your home page. The following conditions must all apply:

  • you don’t have a small and specific enough set of audiences/markets to write distinct content for.
  • your products/services/solutions are too complex, unfamiliar, or numerous to introduce right from the start of the user experience.
  • your company is based on a truly new and novel concept. (Don’t ask your marketing person or CEO if it’s new and novel. Ask someone on the street.)
  • you have absolutely no budget for a short, high-quality video.

In this situation, several (3-5 tops) consecutive slides that gradually tell the story of your company can be effective. It’s like a way less boring powerpoint presentation.

But start saving to pay for a video.

Slide on, friends.