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Rotating Banners and Lost Opportunities

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What’s the point of this post? You should be confused, and for good reason. There’s no consistency, the content has to be read separately, and who knows if you even stuck around long enough for the last choice (I hope you’re still reading!).

Many credit unions do something just like this every day. It’s called the rotating banner, and it needs to go.

One can compare a rotating banner on a homepage with changing billboards along the highway. It seems fair, right? Only the billboard is showing content to thousands of people a day, and each panel gets equal time. Imagine if that same billboard showed the same image to every driver for the first 5 seconds, yet they passed it in 15. What if your institution paid to be 4th in rotation? You wouldn’t be too happy, would you?

It’s the same on your website. If you’re lucky, a web visitor will give 10 seconds to decide if a page is worth their time (and given this data is from 2011, it’s almost certain the number has only gone down).

Assuming your site has a rotating banner set to 5 seconds, visitors will see (at most) two graphics. I’ve seen sites with 7, 8, even 10 rotating graphics! It would take a full minute to flow through each of these in succession. I’m sorry to say, but none of your members are spending that much time on your homepage.

On the web, goals must be defined quickly and clearly to have any success. The primary banner on your site must direct to the primary marketing goal at that moment. For the rest, you can have secondary areas and a clear menu structure.

You may notice retail companies “breaking” this rule, however, their visitors are potential customers browsing a product lineup. A commitment to remaining for a longer time is already set (i.e. They did not come for an unrelated purpose, then become distracted to stay much longer).  Companies like Apple and Microsoft (I use products/services from both) highlight this strategy.

We love seeing credit unions build success on new initiatives. It’s just disappointing when their results are compromised by burying a call to action behind today’s latest graphic. In fact, for our own partners, we can trace web hit falloff to moving a banner back from the first in a rotation.

Members hitting your website are opportunities. Engage them quickly and efficiently and they will reward you with additional services.

PS – The featured image is deliberately bad. It expresses the problem with trying to show a bunch of things in the same space. Nothing is to scale, there’s unrealistic lines, and it’s actively making stellar understanding worse. Sadly, few of you made it here to learn this.

Disclosure: Credit unions partnered with my firm may use rotating banners. If practices improved, our own services may be better promoted, resulting in a financial gain for both parties.


  1. Melina Young

    Thank you for this post. Do you have an actual example of something that works better than the rotating banner that we can see? We are in the process of redesigning our website and I would be interested in more information about what can work better. For example, it is to be expected that if something is less important it would be further back in the rotation, and thus would have less clicks. So, if that is accounted for in the planning process, is it really such a bad thing? Do the few clicks it gets amount to more than what it would get if it wasn’t a feature at all – or do the statistics show that inclusion far back in a rotating banner is actually detrimental to the visits on that page? With so many different types of products that appeal to many members at all different times, it is difficult to just have “one” item you lead with.

    • Sara Steichen

      I have the same questions as Melina does. We also are planning to change our site and I would love to know if there is any research or whitepaper written on what the best practices currently are. We are very small CU and need all the help we can get for as little cost as possible. Are you saying that it is better to NOT have any rotating pages? Would you then simply change your home page promo more frequently?

      • Joe Winn


        As partner in a small business, I relate to your low-budget, low-labor approach. So a suggestion to throw away your site and build it anew would be unacceptable? 😉 It would be ridiculous to me as well.

        The link given in the previous comment discusses some of the SEO (search engine optimization) challenges with the rotating banners. A related link to that one, Homepage Sliders, delves into the results of a small study on B2B sites using them, with an analysis of visitor click-through rates. Unfortunately, I don’t have a whitepaper on the topic at this time (which is surprising, since they are so common, and spawn significant debate).

        To me, and remember, I’m just a geek working with credit unions with some web experience, the ideal is no banners changing. Of course, I understand marketing or other departments may demand more shown on the site. If that is the case, having feature boxes for the top 3 programs may work well (with no changing during browsing). John commented that his credit union rotates the banners randomly, which is a next best solution, since each user may see #3 or #1.

        Remember, at the end of the day, your members embrace your CU because you aren’t just like the banks. Consider how you can position your services so that you aren’t just promoting the lowest rates, no-fee checking accounts, or free debit cards. What sets you apart?

        Ok, here we go…here’s that site I was looking for earlier. They link to Derek Gillette’s idea of a credit union site of the future: Credit Union on Purpose

        Notice how the concept never promotes the normal things, but instead appeals to an emotional side? Isn’t that your mission anyway?

      • Joe Winn

        Derek Gillette just replied to my Twitter post regarding this discussion…his comments embedded below:

    • Joe Winn


      Thank you for the contribution! Your situation is not unique, and I praise you for seeking ways to better connect with your members. There have been a number of studies conducted on the rotating banner and how it affects visitors. Turns out, it actually hits us on a reptilian level…ie. We see the movement and can’t help but pay attention (without even realizing what it says) at the expense of our original task. Learn more about this and other SEO concepts: Rotating Banners and SEO/Conversions

      Are you familiar with weCU2? It is a program of the World Council of Credit Unions and tasked with connecting with a new generation of members (read: Millenials). Their homepage uses an information-dense design without movement (though it has too much content for your purposes). They also have a test credit union site that is just stellar, and I will attach a link once located.

      Was this helpful for you and your goals? Feel free to stay in touch as your development continues.

      EDIT: The site I was trying to find was referenced by weCU2 as a great example of how the credit union industry could evolve in the future. It is designed by credit union industry marketer Derek Gillette (Disclosure: I’ve interacted with him on Twitter). The site is Credit Union on Purpose. Obviously, this evolution wouldn’t be an overnight thing, but could be integrated into your longer-term planning goals?

      Even if all credit unions did something like this, they would each be so unique and member/community focused that no one could say they were “copying” another. Plus, the financial benefit to the membership and surrounding area would be amazing.

  2. John Schaefer

    Ours rotate randomly so they are not stale for return visitors. We always have a lot going on and hit them on multiple channels so we don’t need everyone to see the same message all the time. We also emphasize the most important items in a “Latest News” section to the right of the banners, which is static, which has been working great for us. Click through rates on the banners are consistent.

    • Joe Winn


      And here we have a “Best of Both Worlds” approach (sorry, I had to reference one of the best Star Trek episodes)!

      If there is no choice but to use a carousel design, I strongly support the randomized rotation. Taking it a step further, what if it was random, yet did not change for a session (like the image header on this site)? That way, you gain the member choices, but without the potential loss from a distracting switch? Just a possible suggestion. I understand you all have a lot going on and want to keep members informed (ex. They’re not always in a home mortgage mindset, but when they are, essential to let be top of mind).

      Big fan of the Latest News field (if you do keep it updated and relevant!).

      This is great. In a manner of 30 minutes, we are seeing a few different approaches and efforts to maximize that member attention span.

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