Sliders and video backgrounds should be banned from the internet!

Feb 5, 2018 | Web design trends

When sliders (sometimes known as carousels) first came out they were pounced on by designers and business owners as a great way to hit visitors with a bunch of big images displaying products and services with text overlays.

Then along came video backgrounds – huge autoplay videos across the top of the home page.

So cool, so hip.

But do they work? Do they get people to actually buy your products and services?

Our growing suspicion that sliders and video backgrounds were largely just distracting bloat was confirmed when we encountered impassioned articles by SEO authority Yoast on why sliders suck and why video backgrounds suck.

Here’s our take on why sliders and video backgrounds might not always be the best option for your site.

1. Home page sliders are energy vampires

  • According to research published on http://shouldiuseacarousel.com, only 1% of visitors actually click an image in a slider, and of those, 89% click the first image. That means any other images you’ve got there are going to be ignored.
  • Busy visitors don’t have time to sit and click through sliders just to look at pretty pictures. They are on your site looking for information, and you have to give it to them within 7 seconds or they’ll click away.
  • Sliders and carousels slow download time and chew up data. This has a negative effect on your SEO (site performance being a ranking factor) and is guaranteed to irritate mobile users (who are now a major portion of your users).
  • Sliders can end up being a way of covering up a lack of focus in your business. Instead of offering the visitor a clear and powerful promise or value proposition, you overwhelm them with options and expect them to figure out what you do. But they won’t – they’ll just click away.

I think that at some stage sliders did have a kind of coolness factor to them and they might have fascinated people enough to get them to stay for the whole show, but we’ve moved on. Heck, at the time of writing this our own website has a slider on the home page. We know it’s got to go, and we also know that finding the right message to replace it is going to take a bit of work.

To be fair, there might be individual cases where sliders work really well on a website. The key is to be clear and desive about why you want the slider and how it supports the mission of your website.

2. Video backgrounds are the devil’s work

“Everything’s going video these days – we have to have video everywhere.”

Yes, OK, but right across the top of the page with an autoplay that visitors can’t control?

Sucking up all that bandwidth and mobile data?

Obscuring your message with distracting movement?

Mesmerising people with a video when they should be clicking the Buy Now button?

Slowing site performance and gnawing away at your search engine rankings?

Really, it doesn’t make much sense.

Something else to remember is that mobile users really don’t want to watch a video while they’re on their mobile data. As mobile internet passed desktop use way back in 2016  you’re going to be irritating the majority of your potential customers.

A common workaround is to keep the video for desktop use and provide a static image for mobile. But why? Why pay money to provide bells and whistles for the minority of your visitors? Just be bold and dump it.

(OK, I admit I’m being a bit opinionated here and I might not be seeing some advantages of video. If you still want to explore the possibility, check out this helpful article on the do’s and don’ts of background videos.)

Where is the value proposition?

My stance regarding home pages is that most often, simpler is better. You can get your message across perfectly well with a good static image and a text overlay with your value proposition. The value proposition describes your product or service and the main benefit people will gain. Instead of a value proposition you could also make a bold promise and then state how you’re going to meet it. What you’re looking for is any formulation that maximises the precious few seconds people are going to give you to grab their attention.

So my ten cents worth is that before paying a web designer to create that cool slider or video, pay a copywriter or brand consultant to help you come up with a powerful value proposition. Then display that simply and clearly on your home page with as few distractions as possible.

Now I must take my own medicine and go do something about that damned slider on our own home page.

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