I'm confused by the word "slider". It seems to be used interchangeably for two quite different types of UI control.

  1. An input allowing selecting of a point on a numeric scale, as in the jQuery UI slider.

    enter image description here

  2. A large image slideshow, as in this article on 80 Awesome jQuery Slider Plugins.

enter image description here

I'm researching options for (1) at the moment, and getting very frustrated by the number of articles and links that turn out to be about (2).

Am I using the wrong vocabulary for (1)? Should I be searching for something else instead?


5 Answers 5


In English the word "slider" can be used to describe anything that slides - which is where your problem lies.

Slider in terms of UI elements correctly applies to the first one. The second one is more correctly a carrousel.

  • 3
    I don't think there's a governing body which regulates nomenclature of UX elements, so we can't stop people from calling image carousels "sliders", but I wish there was one. ;)
    – ghoppe
    Mar 19, 2013 at 19:09
  • @ghoppe The general rule is that the person that invents it gets to name it. Besides, there is a governing body of ux nomenclature. UX.StackExchange :)
    – JohnGB
    Mar 19, 2013 at 19:29

In case one - the slider is each handle's functionality. The control is a range selector. If there is only one slider handle, the control is a value selector.

Slider has, as you stated, a broad meaning. Everything that can slide (move from point A to B in some kind of continuous way) is, by it's function, a slider.

If you mention slider and is talking about interaction design, I would guess that most would assume that you are talking about a single value selector - slider control


I think you've certainly hit the meaning of your first case. I'd add that sliders are more often horizontal in orientation than vertical, but you can find vertical instances.

"Slider" is also a reference to the control of a button, bar or control-point that moves along a pre-defined path to select an option or value.

Sliders are often used to reduce user effort and input. To select a value, you just need to drag the slider until the required value is met, whereas, a select box/drop-down requires at least double the clicks and a text box infers using the keyboard. They've become a popular way of picking values and reducing user error too.

The second item (a slideshow) is different. These are often called carousels, as they can rotate or cycle images/content without user-input. The example you show has input controls in the shape of both prev/next arrows along with individual content links. The fact that it has been bundled in a gallery of plugins in moot...

Whilst it might cycle through what we know historically as "slides", it's not a slider and I doubt people would understand it as one.


Slider - Is a Noun.


You can use it as per the context.

So while searching just prefix your specific word like image slider, range slider.

  • 2
    You are using 'slider' as an adjective there. Slider is both a noun and an adjective.
    – JohnGB
    Mar 19, 2013 at 16:14

Unfortunately both those definitions of slider (slidable control and the picture carousel) are now firmly and confusingly in place. Slider referring to a slidable control (your top example) is the original definition, originating sometime in the 80s.

Somehow lazy imprecise people contracted slide show into slider and it took hold. For clarity it should be called slide show or carousel.

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