Why don’t slideshows autoplay in WordPress?

In WordPress sites have an updated slideshow, called a “Feature Slider,” that replaces Reason’s Features and Slideshow modules. This slider does not auto-play or auto-advance, which is an intentional decision.

In the past several years it has become clear in the web design, usability, and marketing fields that auto-play slideshows have a number of major flaws. In a nutshell:

  1. They are not accessible. It is very difficult to get them to work well with screen readers and other assistive technology, and even the most accessible ones still make browsing pages more difficult for these site visitors.
  2. They are not effective. They do not have the desired effect of communicating to the information presented in them or prompting action. There are several studies that show this. Examples of these studies are available from Notre Dame, Sociala Medier, CUInsight, and Nielsen Norman. Users tend to avoid looking at these elements, do not watch long enough to register any slides beyond the first or second one, and often do not read the text in the slides.
  3. They degrade visitors’ experience interacting with other parts of a page. Moving elements in your field of vision prompt an automatic preattentional cognitive response that cannot be controlled consciously. In other words, a person who is trying to read or interact with other parts of the page will have their attention pulled away from that task every time an autoplay slideshow advances, disrupting their ability to complete their intended task.

If you have many pieces of content you wish to present to your site visitors, we recommend considering if there are alternative ways to present them that will be more accessible, effective, and non-disruptive to visitors. A non-autoplay slider may work for small numbers of items (5 or fewer), but there are other approaches that can be even more effective. For example, an image gallery is a better way to present a large number of images.

Please reach out to Web Services for consulting on your particular communications need and we can help you determine the best approach for your situation.