Why I Don’t Like Slideshows

In years past, I was a pretty big fan of having slideshows. Scrolling photos on the home page of a website was useful and successful in helping to generate conversions from “browsers” who are just viewing your site and getting ideas to customers who actually reach out and make a purchase or take another action to interact with your business. But as is often said with anything in the website design realm, Bob Dylan said it best: the times, they are a-changin’.

In the fast paced world we live in, a website is at its most effective when there is one (maybe two) key tasks a user is being prompted to take. Oftentimes that task is referred to as a “Call to Action.” Most business owners know what that one activity is that they want site visitors to do in order to convert that person as needed. Previously, we used to say that a slideshow kept users on a site for a few seconds longer; however, things have changed and we simply are not seeing those results anymore. The biggest focus on many of the sites we’ve built recently is to encourage or entice the user to engage in one of those Call to Action graphics and complete a conversion.

The problem with slideshows is that they provide little value and have considerable downsides. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to someone who made a conversion on a site, be it buying a product or filling out a contact form, who said, “Ya know, it was that third image in the slideshow that made me do it…” The space that was taken up by that slideshow can still be used for a large image, but done in such a way as to help with the goal conversion.

The harm in using a slideshow is simple – load time. Anytime you have a slideshow on your site, it’s going to require JavaScript. The more files that have to be loaded, the longer it will take the site to load. I remember when I first started designing websites; we were told that we needed the page to load in 8-12 seconds. When I started Full Scope Creative, it was half that at most. Today, we are lucky if a user will wait 3 seconds. Therefore having a slideshow load with the required JavaScript (which takes an extra .25 – .50 seconds to load) is simply no longer an option. On a mobile device, the images will likely be so small and clunky that there will simply be no benefit whatsoever of having them.

There are countless other things that can be done in that place. Putting a strong Call to Action is what will drive your results. With several of the sites we’ve done recently, we still use a larger image at the top of the site – but that’s not what drives conversions. Specifically, Call to Action graphics or buttons are what drive those successes. For many of our clients, that Call to Action is more important than any other feature on the site. Why let a slideshow take up those valuable resources, such as load time, when there is simply no benefit to it?

Why is Responsive Important?

One of the biggest changes in web design in recent years has been the emergence of responsive web design. In the past we explained what responsive sites are, but there are still some questions about why they are important. The two biggest reasons why they are important are Google and the end user.

In early 2015 Google announced a change in their search algorithm to start including how responsive a site is in their rankings. What this means is that if your site isn’t responsive, you could very well begin to see a drop in your google ranking; thus making it more difficult for users to find your site. Google has said that they will only be including these response criteria in their rankings when a user is on a mobile device (smart phones or tablets) but I would not be surprised if they were to start including them on desktop searches soon as well.

Even if Google doesn’t start including the responsive criteria in desktop search, responsive sites are still needed because of the end user – your customers and prospective customers. I’ve heard some people argue that they don’t see the need for a responsive site because they don’t use mile devices for web browsing. The problem with that argument is that they are in the minority on the issue. Over two thirds of Americans currently own a smartphone and of those two thirds, 60% use their smartphone as their primary web browsing device with nearly half saying they won’t return to a site if it doesn’t load properly on the device. A website is, at the end of the day, there to benefit the user, not necessarily the business. We always stress that we need to do certain things on a website and with it’s design to enhance the user experience. Responsive sites are simply the next step in that tradition.

If you’d like to learn more about responsive sites or get started on getting a responsive site set up, please get in touch with us today.

What are Responsive Sites?

At a recent business networking event, I mentioned responsive websites. A couple people in the group asked, “What is a responsive website?” After that meeting I thought a quick explanation of responsive sites could be helpful.

A responsive site is a mobile friendly site that is equally easy to use on a wide array of devices, from smartphones to tablets and up to desktop computers. In the early days of mobile browsing, designers would sometimes only show certain important information on a mobile site, such as food menu on a restaurants website. However, much research has shown that in recent years most users are doing many of the same tasks a on a mobile device as they would on a  desktop; from filling out contact forms to placing an eCommerce order. Users are now days using their mobile devices the same as they do a desktop machine. Because of that, we now need to include the same set of information and pages on the mobile viewing experience as on the desktop version.

One of the easiest and best ways to tell if your site is responsive is to go to the Google Responsive Test and type in your website address. Google will do a  quick scan of your site and tell you if your site is responsive, and if not it will give you a few key reasons as to what was wrong.

Mobile browsing is quickly becoming one of the most common forms of web usage. If you don’t currently have a responsive, your website is in many ways behind the times. To get your site upgraded to a responsive site, please get in touch with us.