Why that rotating banner could be killing your conversions

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Rotating banners or “sliders” have become almost standard on websites today. You see them all the time, that large image that transitions to another image and/or video and is typically seen on the homepage of most sites (ours included). But some conversion experts argue that they shouldn’t be used.

Tim Ash, one of the masters on conversion science and author of the book Landing Page Optimization, makes the following arguments:

  • Large File Sizes: Banner images can be huge and typically all of those images have to load before the entire homepage can be displayed. Also, depending on where the javascript is in the HTML code of the page, it can hinder the rest of the page from displaying while those large images load. Not optimizing images for the web can make this even worse.
  • Page Load Times: With the above mentioned experience, it can have negative affects on your rankings with Google. If you have large images trying to load, it will slow down your page load time, which is a part of Google’s ranking algorithm.
  • Inconsistent Messaging and Look: Oftentimes, slider images differ a great deal in the look, feel, messaging and calls to action so you are showing too many messages in too little of time.
  • Lack of Editorial Responsibility: Tim argues here that you are simply “throwing your hands up” and saying “I’m not sure what is important so I am going to throw it all up against the wall and see what sticks.” Content should be prioritized and any non-essential items should be removed.
  • Wasted Time: Time is precious, even more so on the web are people impatient. Ever come across a rotating banner seeing something you like, it changes immediately and the you have to wait until you see it again? Yeah, me too and it’s annoying.
  • Motion Triggered Reassessment: Motion triggers our brain to look. When the slide changes, we can’t help but glance up at the sliding image, which removes our focus from the content we were reading. This makes it hard for readers to consume your site’s content
  • Too Much Real Estate: This isn’t always the case, especially with bigger screens becoming the norm, but some sliding banners are way too large. Above the fold content should be chosen carefully and you don’t want your banner to dominate that area.

The biggest argument that is made is on eCommerce pages. You don’t want to push down your products or categories to show something that could ultimately hurt your sales and bottom line. I would also mention that if you are sending traffic to the homepage of your site with PPC ads, you shouldn’t use a rotating banner either. But, it isn’t great practice to send traffic to your homepage for PPC campaigns in general.

I agree with Tim’s arguments and really enjoyed his book. When it comes to conversions, simplicity usually wins. Most people want to have a really fancy look and feel, but when you actually start your A/B testing you will find that the KISS method can be applied to website design as well.


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