Since a few years ago, homepage sliders have begun appearing on a great deal of websites, to the point of being pretty much a standard design element. They are now everywhere, and come in countless shapes and sizesthanks to the power of Javascript and the jQuery library. Some of the most sophisticated ones are beautifully animated, reenacting the dynamism of Flash without, well, Flash.

that being said, the homepage slider has become one of the most important elements for a site. It is the most prominent piece of content in the fornt page, and the one that is more likely to grab the user’s curiosity first. Therefore, creating a well-designed slider aimed to invite user to your site is akin to investing into your most important content piece. Effective ones will excel at sparking an interest in the visitor, while bland and boring ones are likely to pass unnoticed– and thus driving conversions away.

The first slide is the most important

The main paradox about web content is that the more prominent an element is, the more likely it is to get noticed by the user. However, in doing so, it will also deprive other elements from the available space, making them less important and and harder to notice. A slider attempts to cram more content in a site by introducing automatic pagination, so that given enough time, the content itself will change.

However, the time a user spends on you webpage is very limited. As such, you must make a thoughtful decision when choosing which slide will be the first one to appear. That one slide will get by far the most attention, and so it must be the one with the content you wish to promote the most.

Less Is More

Picking the order of your slides is not the only thing you should focus on. On average, a visitor may only take a glance at your slideshow for a few seconds, during which he will skim over some of the existing elements in your homepage. More often than not, he will hit the Back button if nothing interests him.

Since a slider is timed to offer a considerable amount of time to let the user read the slide, most of the time the visitor will never see the third or even second one. Some of the more advanced slider solutions out there will even pause when the user hovers over it, which means the delay will be even greater.

As such, you must also justify the purpose of each slide you add to the homepage. Every one of them must be able to contribute something meaningful and unique, and avoid being there just to have a good number of them. In fact, you should consider removing the ones that aren’t furthering the purpose of your site, as they will most likely become an obstacle.

Take Your time on Each One

Since the slider is a really prominent area of your homepage, you must be extra careful when adding content to it. This is specially important when it comes down to choosing which images to add or which caption to use on the first slide, as it is the first thing people will see. A good rule of thumb is to be really concise and clear, so visitors can instantly know what you’re offering them.

This not only applies to the words you choose, but also the background image of each slide. Make sure you invest on selecting visuals that best describe your site, as well as getting the highest quality images you can afford. Remember, the first impression will be the most important one.

Like with any other content element of your site, creating an effective strategy takes time and multiple iterations. You should by all means take the necessary steps to measure whether your slider is being noticed, so you can improve it little by little. A great way of doing this is using Google Analytics and events, letting you know how many people click on your content. That way, you can make small experiments from time to time to see which alternative is better for boosting your conversions.