Content sliders are everywhere these days! They can also be very polarizing. Tons of people love them, while others despise them. But it’s important to realize that sliders aren’t a cure, they are merely a tool. This means that they need to be used appropriately and populated with great content in order for you to realize their main benefits.
Don’t confuse the potential of the tool with poor results from lacklustre implementations. When used properly, content sliders are effective interaction elements that can increase visitor engagement, comprehension and retention of information.
This post covers the major reasons why you should consider using a content slider, and at which points they can be most effective in improving your visitors’ experiences when they visit. Let’s jump in!
The Benefits of Content Sliders
The benefits of content sliders range from saving space to allowing the website visitor more control. Let’s have a look at some specific benefits below.
- Content sliders consolidate multiple pieces of content into a small space on your site, allowing you to fit more on-screen at any given time.
PROMOTE USER ENGAGEMENT
- Well-implemented and designed content sliders are engaging for website visitors, and encourage them to stay on the page longer.
- They act like a pit-stop on a long journey, allowing the user to take a break before continuing to scroll.
GOOD FOR USABILITY IN MEDIA-RICH PAGES
- By consolidating media into one place, you give the user the ability to focus.
- Jakob Nielsen’s studies show that images distract from text, so by placing your visual content in a slider, you allow the user to choose when they focus their attention on image/rich content, instead of breaking their reading flow. It lets users focus on discrete pieces of content.
- The majority of content sliders can be controlled by the user, meaning they can progress through the content at their own pace, aiding their comprehension and retention of the information you’re providing.
Can your website improve with any of the benefits above?
When to Use Content Sliders
There are a number of ways to use content sliders. Like with most things, it is best to have a goal in mind of where you want to get to before embarking on your journey. With that said, have a look at some of the options below on when it’s best to use a content slider. If one or two of the points stand out, it might be time to consider adding a slider plugin to your website.
INTRODUCING YOUR WEBSITE
- When users first arrive at your website, they need to know why they’re there, and what they can do. Content sliders are popular homepage elements for the simple fact that they’re great at conveying a concise overview of a website’s purpose, and enabling them to click through for more information.
UPDATING CONTENT DYNAMICALLY
- If you’re frequently posting updates, you’ll often want to highlight them on your website to draw attention to them. But if your volume of updates is high, each of them only gets a limited exposure to your website visitors. A dynamically-updated content slider gives each of your posts a chance to shine.
CONSOLIDATING DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDIA
- Each slide is merely a container, so you can get pretty clever with the content in each. That means images, videos, rich interactive media like Google Maps and signup forms are all up for grabs!
HIGHLIGHTING MULTIPLE IMAGES OR VIDEOS IN GALLERIES
- Content sliders were originally conceived for grouping together images and videos into interactive galleries. This was done partly to save space but mainly to ease the friction of browsing through media.
TELLING A STORY
- A good story flows and is unbroken. Which is why we’re seeing a proliferation of long-scrolling page designs on the Web. Simply embedding a series of images or videos in an article or page breaks up that flow, and makes it more difficult for users to continue where they left off. A good content slider allows media to flow inline with the rest of the content.
FOLLOWING SEQUENTIAL STEPS (E.G. PRODUCT TOURS, WALKTHROUGHS, INSTRUCTIONS, RECIPES, ETC.)
- Most software companies know that a great content slider can massively improve the experience of going through a product tour, which ultimately leads to more sales.
- Due to their self-directed and focused nature, sliders are a great method for walking your visitors through a series of contiguous steps.
Knowing when to use content sliders can help make them more effective on your website.
What to Look for in a Slider Plugin
In addition to the above points, there are a few key elements you should consider when choosing a slider plugin.
- It should be deployable anywhere on your site. A slider should be easy to place on your homepage, contact area or even an obscure page on your website. The decision should not be limited in anyway.
- It needs to be able to handle all kinds of content. An ideal slider should have the ability to automatically resize itself in order to fit neatly on the page. Whether it’s a desktop, smart phone or tablet, resizing to fit any screen or device is a huge step toward making the slider more effective and visually pleasing.
- An accessible and effective service team backing the product up is a must. Most products are really only as good as the team behind them. Excellent support helps to serve your needs while providing ongoing assistance for the product that you’ve purchased.
Used properly, sliders can definitely have a positive impact on your website’s user experience. Let’s quickly recap the benefits of using a slider and the best times to use one.
- Save Space
- Promote User Engagement
- Good for Usability in Media-Rich Pages
- User-Directed (Mostly)
THE BEST TIMES TO USE A SLIDER
- Introducing Your Website
- Updating Content Dynamically
- Consolidating Different Types of Media
- Highlighting Multiple Images in Videos or Galleries
- Telling a Story
- Following Sequential Steps
After considering the benefits outlined in the post above and the best times to use a slider, my recommendation for a content slider plugin is SlideDeck2. With the ability to mix and match content types, an easy WYSIWYG editor and a drag and drop slide function, SlideDeck2 hits on all of the notes required of a quality slider plugin. SlideDeck2 also contains the following features:
- Lenses: highly-crafted preset styles that help make your content look great. You can use them right out of the box or choose from a set of customizable parts that tailor best to your site.
- Slide Content: You have a choice between the Dynamic Source (display content from your favorite external sources) method and Custom Content (perfect for homepages, product tours and presentations). Both methods are easy and poweful to use.
- Customization: You have the ability to modify a significant portion of your slider including text content, font, navigation, transitions plus many other elements.
- Usage: Place SlideDecks anywhere. They work great in full-size applications like homepages, product tours and portfolios to scaled down areas such as the sidebar and footer widgets.
- Support & Updates: SlideDeck support is available from the team that actually built it. This team is always looking to add new lenses, additional sources and features to their plugin.
SlideDeck 2 Summer Sale
We’re excited let you know about the special summer offer on SlideDeck2. If you’re interested in purchasing this plugin, you can save up to $50 for a limited time. What are your thoughts on content sliders? Please share in the comments section below!