Today's Tip: Auto-Rotating Sliders are BAD

You think you want one and your clients are actually asking for them. Everybody is doing it, so you should too, right?.

I mean, there's all that content that you don't want to have to prune down to the most relevant set, which look so pretty in a slider with a few photos as background images. Put it in a slider! All those product pictures the client wants? Slider! Makes everybody's life better, right?

Wrong.

I've known for a while now that sliders were bad juju but I only just came across an article that proves it. Feast your eyes people: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/auto-forwarding/

Here are a few nuggets:

Deadly. Accordions and carousels should show a new panel only when users ask for it. Otherwise, it should stand still and let users read the information in peace, without having the rug yanked from under them. As our user said about Siemens' big rotating box: "I didn't have time to read it. It keeps flashing too quickly."

Auto-forwarding causes many usability problems:

* Moving UI elements usually reduce accessibility, particularly for users with motor skill issues who have difficulty clicking something before it's taken away.

* Low-literacy users often don't have enough time to read the information before it's removed.

* International users also read more slowly if your site is not in their native language, and thus won't be able to understand a panel if it's displayed only briefly.

* The probability that users will spot the item they want is drastically reduced when only one thing is displayed at any given time; in the Siemens example, the discount deal is visible only 20% of the time.

* It's just plain annoying for users to lose control of the user interface when things move around of their own accord.

Most important, because it moves, users automatically assume that it might be an advertisement, which makes them more likely to ignore it.

The article also has choice words about several other techniques you've probably been using. Did I mention it's from Neilson? Well it is, and they know a few things about user behavior.

Still not convinced? This article adds the attached eye-tracking heatmap to the equation.

TL;DR
* Kill the slider before it kills you
* If you must use a slider, go full screen
* Consider using an accordion that does not auto-forward.

They can make it harder to focus. visits to web sites are generally “top-down” (goal oriented) rather than “bottom-up” (stimulus-driven). Distractors (such as a banners) slow the completion of the primary goal.

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