Content sliders have become ubiquitous on websites today, but they are also a subject of controversy. While some people love them, others hate them. However, it is important to understand that content sliders are not a panacea but a tool that needs to be used appropriately and populated with great content to realize their main benefits. When used properly, content sliders can be effective interaction elements that can increase visitor engagement, comprehension, and retention of information. In this article, we will discuss the major benefits of content sliders and when they can be most effective in improving visitors’ experiences on your website.
Benefits of Content Sliders
Content sliders offer several benefits, ranging from saving space to allowing website visitors more control. Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits:
1. Save Space: 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.
2. Promote User Engagement: Well-implemented and designed content sliders are engaging for website visitors and encourage them to stay on the page longer. They can also act like a pit-stop on a long journey, allowing the user to take a break before continuing to scroll.
3. Boost Usability on Media-rich Pages: By consolidating media into one place, you give the user the ability to focus. 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.
4. User Directed (mostly): The majority of content sliders can be controlled by the user. This means they can progress through the content at their own pace, aiding their comprehension and retention of the information you’re providing.
When to Use Content Sliders
There are several ways to use content sliders, but it is best to have a goal in mind before embarking on your journey. Here are some of the options on when it’s best to use a content slider:
1. 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.
2. Updating Content Dynamically: If you’re frequently posting updates, you’ll often want to highlight them on your website to draw attention to them. A dynamically-updated content slider gives each of your posts a chance to shine.
3. Consolidating 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!
4. Highlighting Media 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.
5. Story Telling: 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.
6. Sequential Steps (e.g., Product Tour, Walkthrough, 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. But due to their self-directed and focused nature, sliders are a great method for many other scenarios where you want to walk your visitors through a series of contiguous steps.
What to Look for in a Content Slider Plugin
When choosing a slider plugin, there are a few key elements you should consider:
1. Easy to Use: 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 any way.
2. Responsive: An ideal slider should have the ability to automatically resize itself to fit neatly on the page, whether it’s a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
3. Good Support: An accessible and effective service team backing the product up is a must.
Best WordPress Content Slider Plugins
There are many great WordPress slider plugins to choose from, but for a content slider, you probably want something simpler. Here are three great options:
1. Slide Anything: This completely free plugin offers basic options for text, buttons, images, HTML, etc. Sliders are responsive with touch/drag support and are compatible with all modern browsers.
2. Super Slider Block: This free plugin adds a content slider block (as implied by the title) which you can use to create a simple, in-content slider while building your post or page.
3. Smart Slider: There are plenty of options to create responsive sliders (either manually, with templates or dynamically from blog posts) but Smart Slider lives up to its name and is still a fairly lightweight plugin. There is a premium version for added features, but for content sliders, the free version will give you plenty to work with.
Used properly, sliders can definitely have a positive impact on your website’s user experience. Knowing when to use them and what to look for in a plugin can help make them more effective on your website. If you’re considering adding a content slider to your website, consider the benefits outlined in this post and the best times to use one. And if you have a different suggestion, leave us a note below! We’d love to hear your thoughts on content sliders or other plugins we might not have shared.