Website Slideshows: A Beginner’s Guide

Written by - 01/12/2014

Having a slideshow on a website (usually featured on a home page) is similar to having a window display in a high street shop. Bad planning and execution will leave it looking messy and unprofessional which results in a lack of customers. A carefully crafted window display can make a shop stand out from every other on the high street, resulting in customers flooding in.

Slideshows are windows into your business

Every business is different but customers are often the same, or at least they’re looking for the same things. Users of your website want to know what your business can offer them without them trying too hard. They will likely have some idea of what your business does but there is still a lot of decision making to be made before they become a fully fledged customer. Making your offering transparent and succinct can turn a user into a potential customer very quickly. Hiding away your offering can turn a user into a bounce statistic very quickly.

Slideshows are a fantastic way of getting your offering straight in front of site visitors. Whether you are selling a service, selling a product, providing information, or delivering news, you can get this information across to a user quickly and succinctly.

A slideshow usually consists of multiple slides that are made up of an image, headline, body copy, and a link. This is the most conventional form of slideshow and it gives website managers the greatest flexibility for running promotions. Other forms of slideshows can include; multiple products, featured services, recent news articles, or even team profiles.

Images in a slideshow help to grab the attention of a user. The real estate that a slideshow takes up on a web page is often large compared to other page elements. Having an impactful image can draw a user’s attention in very effectively. However, a poor quality image can have the opposite effect and put users off. Make sure your images are of a good quality, cropped correctly, and optimised for the web so they don’t take a long time to load.

Don’t try and get everything into your shop window. Be succinct and selective.

Using a headline along with an image gives context to information that is being promoted in a slide. Headlines need to be sharp and to-the-point, no waffle here thank you very much. Don’t make your users work too hard so remember the shop front analogy. Someone walking past your shop on the high street has a limited amount of time to take in whatever it is you’re trying to put in front of them. Make it easy for that person to make the decision to enter.

In addition to imagery and headlines, a short amount of descriptive text is often included in slide. This isn’t always necessary but it can help to provide more information if the promotion you’re running needs additional explanation. Do keep this succinct as there’s no need to provide every piece of information possible, just enough to intrigue and hit the spot for your users.

The final piece to the slideshow puzzle is a link. This link is the doorway to your shop. If you do not provide a link then you may as well brick up the door. You’re running a promotion and enticing users in by providing short and sharp content to engage. Once a user is engaged they’ll want to find out more so provide a clear link for the user to click on. You’ve won them over and got them into your shop. Here you can display a lot more information about the promotion you’re running as well as cross-promoting other services and products. If you’re promoting a best selling product then a link would need to direct a user through to the product page. This would detail information such as multiple images, further descriptions, customer reviews and product specifications. If you’re promoting a key service then the link would direct a user through to a service page detailing information about benefits, processes, testimonials and case studies. Remember that a slideshow is like a shop window and you wouldn’t try to cram every product in the front of your shop. Be selective and display your best offerings on your website’s slideshow.

A slideshow is a window into your website so use it as best as you can and make sure you don’t skimp on your promotions. It can be the difference between getting a user to the content they’re looking for and a user leaving your site for a competitor.