Many high profile websites use the motion of rotating banner images, also known as image sliders or carousels, to attract the attention of viewers and as a way to bring a variety of marketing messages into a small space. However, this form of content presentation often results in low conversion ratios due to appearing similar to an advertisement and causing viewer frustration when trying to read the message and follow up on it.
Why Rotating Banner Images Capture the Attention
If you are wondering why rotating banner images can keep people on your site longer but not lead to a higher conversion ratio, you will need to understand the science behind it. Motion captures the attention, which means that while viewers are looking at your slider, they are more focused on the movement than on the messages themselves.
Though they seem like a great way to capitalize on the limited website real estate, to present too many messages can equate to presenting no message. Viewers are overwhelmed by the amount of information being presented to them, so they ignore it.
Why Capturing the Attention Isn't Enough
A recent Notre Dame study found that only 1% of all viewers clicked on their image carousel. Also, though the first banner in a carousel received approximately 84% of click-throughs, the remaining four image banners that were presented during the study had rates from 2.4-3.1%.
Similar image sliders on the Notre Dame site had varying statistics but were always under 10% of the viewers clicking through with the first position image information receiving several times the click-throughs of the remaining images.
There is also a variety of usability issues caused by rotating banners for a many groups, including international, low-literacy and disabled viewers. People who are viewing some websites quickly or researching a topic in-depth also often have problems with image carousels.
Elements that are under motion typically reduce accessibility, especially for viewers who have motor skill issues and cannot click the banner before it disappears and for low-literacy or viewers whose English is not average who cannot read the information before it is replaced.
There is also the issue that the image the viewer would click on is only visible a limited amount of time, increasing the chance that they will miss the message you are trying to present to them. With five images on an image carousel, that leaves a 20% chance that the few viewers paying attention to the image slider will see the message you are trying to convey.
Much like banner advertising, multiple studies have found that many viewers tune out image carousels as an annoying distraction or assume that it's a form of advertising and ignore it, making their use detrimental to prime website real estate.
Even though many companies are employing image carousels on their websites, this tactic provides a lower conversion ratio than less flashy and more traditional layouts due to a variety of factors. A simpler approach with fewer messages will increase your conversion rate due to higher click-throughs and will make better use of prime areas of website real estate, encouraging viewers to continue further into the site rather than ignoring it as they do banner advertising or difficult-to-read content.