Whether you’re an entrepreneur, creative professional or service provider, your WordPress website should showcase the best you have to offer in a way that is easy for visitors to see. Sliders – also called slideshows or carousels – allow WordPress site runners to place an automated, rotating gallery of high profile content anywhere on a page or post. Strategically-placed sliders can be an effective tool for promoting your brand or business, and they’re easy to install and configure with a variety of slider-friendly WordPress themes and plugins.
How Do Sliders Work?
Sliders are designed to create automated slideshows of selected images in a WordPress site’s media library. They’re often seen in the site’s header area so that they’re the first thing a visitor encounters on the site. A carousel can contain as few or as many slider images as a user chooses, and they typically advance automatically at intervals a user sets when customizing the slider’s functions. To give viewers more control over the way they view the slider images, many slider controls also offer options for pausing, backing and forwarding slider content, or manually advancing slides.
Many WordPress site runners choose to place the carousel slider into the header for visual impact, but a slider can be placed just about anywhere on a page or post, either by inserting its shortcode into the text editor or placing it into a widget for footer or sidebar content. An image placed in sliders can be edited or removed at any time or new ones can be inserted. The slider itself can also be disabled if it is no longer needed. With the slider customization options, you can choose different layout styles like displaying a WordPress post or showcasing a simple static image.
WordPress users of all skill levels can set up and customize sliders, even those with no experience with coding or website design. For those with development skills, sliders can be further customized by working directly with code in a WordPress slider plugin, theme, or created from scratch to meet specialized needs. There are free and premium version WordPress plugins for sliders that are available both from the official WordPress directories and from developers and digital asset marketplaces all over the world.
Setting Up a Slider On Your WordPress Site
Sliders can be installed and configured quickly and easily using readily accessible WordPress assets that are available right from your site – or from external sources if you prefer. Many free and premium WordPress themes such as Crane and Orion include an optional slider feature. To find one, search the WordPress theme directory or the catalog of any outside developer for themes with a carousel slider option. Once you’ve installed the theme, tools for placing and customizing your slider become available through your site’s Admin dashboard.
Some themes have preset locations for the slider content, such as the site header, so pay attention to slider features when selecting your theme if you’d prefer to place your slider elsewhere on your site. Within your slider’s settings, you can add images from your site’s media library or upload new ones, set metadata, descriptions and alt text for each image, and insert or delete them as needed. Sliders typically operate on an automatic loop and depending on the source of your slider, you may also be able to set parameters such as play speed and display features like fade-in and fade-out between slides. Some slider tools also include buttons for pausing and moving back and forth within the slideshow.
If you’d prefer to install a theme that doesn’t offer a slider feature, you can add that option to any theme with one of the nearly 700 slider plugins such as Meta Slider or Smooth Slider available from the WordPress plugin directory, or by choosing from among hundreds more created by WordPress developers around the world. Once the plugin is installed and activated, tools for managing the slider become available on your site’s Admin dashboard.
Mobile responsiveness is a key factor for search engine visibility and building your brand, so it’s important to be sure that the slider plugin you choose is compatible with your site in terms of responsiveness. Adding a non-responsive slider to a responsive website means that your slider content may not display properly on mobile devices, or it may cause problems with the way your site displays as a whole.
Who Needs a Slider?
Sliders can be installed on just about any self-hosted WordPress site, but not all sites may find them useful. Ecommerce sites with special offers and featured products might find that a slider is an effective way to let visitors know about them before they even enter the site. Creative professionals, such as photographers and designers, can use a slider as a mini portfolio to quickly give prospective clients a sense of their skills and style. Professionals in a variety of fields can use sliders to provide a brief overview of services offered and other information.
Sliders can also be used to tell stories related to the site’s mission and brand, such as a recent event or special project, or to provide a virtual tour of a company’s facilities or a property for sale. Used wisely, sliders can add both visual appeal and product and service promotion anywhere on your site, but it’s important to plan your slider’s set up with a clear idea of its purpose on your site.
Slideshows that run too long, or that contain random, unrelated images, tend to reduce, rather than increase, engagement with your site. Likewise, large header sliders that push essential content far down the page so that visitors have to scroll can leave them confused about the purpose of your site and what it’s offering.
Content marketing experts suggest planning your slider content carefully before adding it into the slider gallery. Choose only the most visually appealing images and keep them thematically related. Arrange them to tell a simple story, if possible. Keep text to a minimum, too, unless you provide tools for visitors to pause the slider in order to read.
Incorporating a WordPress slider on your website can add visual interest and showcase your best work and most enticing offers. With slider tools available in both premium and free WordPress themes and plugins, it’s easy to add sliders wherever you want them on any WordPress site.
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