Mar 30th, 2012 by Rich Page
Homepage content sliders are SO common now on websites, from e-commerce websites to media websites, but often they poorly engage and convert visitors. These content sliders are usually found at the top of homepages and come in varying shapes, sizes and usages, and are usually used to highlight promotions, products and other content.
Used well, they can better engage and convert visitors for your key conversion goals. But used badly, they can annoy visitors and cause them to leave, or risk them not seeing the most important information buried away in one of your later slides. Therefore, I have put together a post outlining best practices and test ideas for improving these to better engage and convert your visitors.
First though – remember that the major goal of your homepage is for it act as a springboard to get your visitors as quickly as possible off it into the area of your website that most interests them, so your content slider should aid with this purpose!
Best practices to optimize homepage content sliders:
- Don’t make it rotate too fast. Often content sliders scroll way too quickly for visitors to be able to read and digest the content, and become frustrating for them. Best practice is 3 seconds per slide being shown – that way its not too slow either.
- Don’t use more than 5 slides in your slider. If you use more than this, it will take longer for your visitors to see all of your slider content – and they may miss later slides because visitors don’t often stay very long on homepages.
- ALWAYS show your most important slide first, and ideally it should be the one that aids your visitors the most and helps convert them too, for example helping to build unique value proposition for your website.
- Don’t presume your visitors will skip through your slider if you don’t automate the rotation of it (or even see your navigation options to start navigating the slider). Thererefore its always best to auto-rotate your slides.
- Offer tabs, thumbnails or links for each slide with short descriptive text that indicate to your visitors what is on each one. This way they can get a much better understanding of the contents of your slider without having to wait for all slides to show.
- Offer good controls to let visitors navigate through the slider contents. Don’t just let it autoplay in rotation – give visitors left/right buttons to go back and forth (and is another reason why tabs work well as they act as navigation aid).
Test ideas to optimize homepage content sliders:
- Test the height and width of your content slider. If it’s very high, don’t make it take up the whole browser width, and it shouldn’t take up all of the page-fold (or you risk visitors not seeing content below). You also test having important promos or calls-to-action at the side of your image rotator that increase the value to your visitors.
- Test adding and improving calls-to-action in your slides. These should ideally be in the form of buttons embedded into the slide, and should be in the form of an influential, action-based call-to-action for your main website goals.
- Test adding targeting to your slides to show your visitors content/products they have previously engaged with the most – don’t presume they will like everything you show in it. This forms an excellent way of engaging and converting your visitors better and can be done with advanced testing tools like Adobe Test&Target.
- Test targeting your new visitors with initial slides relating to benefits of using your website, first time purchase coupons or first time users guides. This will meet their needs better and increase the chances of them engaging and converting.
- Try testing static versus rotating slides. Auto rotating doesn’t always work best – test a single powerful slide that conveys the main benefits of using your website, and see if it converts better (increased click-through rates/conversions).
- Test usage of people in them. This can have a big impact – test showing different people (gender/age/race/groups) and also what they are pointing to and where they are looking. Ultimately they shouldn’t distract, they should help your visitors make a decision.
- Test adding testimonials in them. These are great for improving social proof for your website and what it offers, and adding these as one of your slides can help to convey benefit to your visitors better, and engage them more.
- Testing looping the slides versus ending the image slider on a powerful call-to-action slide to see what engages and converts your visitors better.
- Test adding rich media content like videos into some of your slides as an alternate way to engage, as Starbucks now does on their homepage content slider (see below).
The last important thing to remember though is to always test your slider – the usability and contents of it. There is no perfect slide show that will work on every website – keep testing and iterating until you find the version that increases click-through rates and conversion the most!