As a company or brand, your website is everything to the success of your business — the essential platform from which users will visit to learn about your offerings, and purchase a service or product, etc. And along with the copy on your site, the graphics and how well they speak to your brand identity, and convey the right message to your audience will determine whether a user will stay a while…or bounce right away.
Up until recently using sliders also referred to as a carousel image on your homepage was the way to go. But newer research is showing that they may no longer be working as well, actually hurting your potential engagement with your audience and obstructing traffic to your site. In this article, we will be discussing why it’s time to leave the sliders behind, and embrace hero images on your homepage.
Their Similarity to Banner Ads is A Problem
If you look at sliders, you may realize they strongly remind you of banner ads. From their size and position on your homepage to the way they continuously fluctuate, people may see your slider and dismiss it, thinking it is in fact a banner ad. That’s because people have gotten so used to being inundated with banner ads on almost every page they see on the Web and consequently, have also gotten used to tuning them out. Obviously, this is an issue for your site, as you want visitors to be captivated by your content and graphics and if anything, be motivated to continue exploring your site — not turned off.
Not Good For User Experience
The truth is, sliders images are just not terribly conducive to creating an engaging user experience. The fact that slider images are constantly auto-rotating can be distracting, and even annoying for users. Remember, you only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s interest — annoying them, of course is not how you will get there. The continuously changing graphics also make it more difficult to even properly take in the content.
When you are building your site, you should think of each page, and especially the home page as a road map guiding your users’ eyes where they need to be looking at and the next place for them to navigate to, to continue discovering what you have to offer. But slider images may unfortunately derail the discovery process, discouraging users from exploring your site any further.
Hard to Make Responsive on Mobile
As challenging as slider images can be for the user to take in, we can’t forget how creating them in the first place and making sure they are responsive is no walk in the park either. In this digital-first world, the chances that your users are viewing your site on mobile is higher than the likelihood that they are not. So, it is important that you successfully create a slider that is as responsive on mobile as it is on desktop, But the truth is, they just don’t function as well on smaller devices. In order for them to work on mobile at all, you usually have to reduce the size of the images, which makes it even harder for your users to read the text on the images. And your call-to-actions? Users will be too busy trying to make out what your call-to-actions are at all, let alone actually following them. And obviously, this will be frustrating for your users.
Causes Problems with SEO
By now you should know strong SEO is essential to your site. And the same goes for the SEO in your slider image. You need to make sure the SEO is on point so Google can properly understand it so your homepage can rank well in the SERPs. The problem is that it’s hard to do this properly with slider images. If you embed copy into the image, Google will not recognize that text. So, to get around this, you would have to place the text copy over the image in order for Google to properly read it and for the slider image to be responsive. But it can be very tricky, adding text over an image, making sure all of the content is lining up correctly, etc.
The other problem is that you want to avoid having multiple H1s, too, as that will be problematic and confusing for Google to read the slider image properly, potentially hurting your rankings in the SERPs. Therefore, you would need to determine which image in your slider has H1 text, and then make sure that the copy in the rest of the slider images are not H1s.
Slow Load Times (aka Lazy Loading)
The other big issue with slider images is that they have heavier code, which can drastically slow down loading times of the slider image itself as well as other content on the homepage. And this becomes that much more exacerbated, of course for your viewers using mobile. Again, you only have a few seconds to gain the attention of your users. With slow-to-load sliders, you may have difficulty retaining your users’ interest at all, possibly losing them in the first few seconds as they grow impatient waiting for the slider images to load.
Is the Hero Image…Your Hero?
See, what we did there? Of course you do and sorry, we couldn’t resist.
And yes, they are in fact heroes. And we will tell you why.
You know a more simple approach many times is the winning approach? Well, a hero image is a singular banner image or graphic with a strong and succinct message. It is easy and instantly engaging for the user, helping communicate to your users what they are supposed to look at on your site and what call-to-action to follow as well as what they are supposed to understand from the message being conveyed in the hero image.
Users like clarity. They like bold, attention-getting text. They need to know where their eyes should focus on your homepage, and a hero image accomplishes that.
Consider Apple which is known for its straightforward and user-friendly content. If you look at Apple’s homepage, you will be immediately met by a hero image that explains exactly what you’re getting from the page and what you need to know.
And what are the benefits of hero images? Well, you’re eliminating the frustrations that you can experience with slider images. So, to list a few off the bat, you’re dealing with faster loading times, an easier experience optimizing it for SEO helping you rank higher in the SERPs and it won’t give you issues loading on mobile.
And all of these benefits mean that in the end, a hero image will ultimately serve you infinitely better than slider images.
We’ll be happy to be your heroes, too.