While the name might sound like the newest Olympic sport, parallax scrolling is actually a web feature that is all about giving the viewer a 3D experience on a 2D platform. Essentially, it’s a design element that places content in different layers. By moving the background and the foreground at different speeds, parallax scrolling creates the illusion of depth and movement as you scroll down or across the page.
Possibilities of Parallax:
If the ideal use for infinite scrolling is seamlessly displaying a high volume of content, then the ideal use for parallax scrolling is creating visually striking pages that draw the viewer in to explore more. This is why parallax is a particularly good design for landing pages or portfolio sites.
Parallax is also great for interactive elements, like allowing users to manipulate an image to get a 360 view of a product. As an animation technique, it can tell a compelling story that engages the viewer and encourages user participation.
Parallax scrolling is responsible for some of the most visually interesting and memorable sites on the web. The Seattle Space Needle website is a fantastic example of this. Visitors have the ability to scroll their way to the top of the Space Needle and check out the view.
Like any design element, parallax has a specific intended use that makes it a perfect fit for some websites, but less ideal for others. Some things to keep in mind are how parallax can affect loading speeds, SEO functionality, and mobile friendliness.
Slower Loading Speeds
For all of its charms, parallax is not the king of speed, and in a world of immediate gratification, most people do not like waiting. If a website is taking too long to load, many viewers won’t stick around. However, there are scenarios where the trade-off of slower load times is worth it for the impact of a particular parallax effect. If your reason for using it justifies the potential delay, then go for it. Just be sure you weigh the pros and cons before jumping in.
Another thing to bear in mind is how to keep your site SEO friendly. Web designers often build sites on an SEO architecture that uses separately indexed pages to achieve optimum searchability. Many parallax-based websites are single-page, which means all of the content exists on the same page. This can make it harder to fit these pages into a traditional SEO framework. There are ways to break up the content to allow for separate indexing, but it does require a non-traditional approach.
A final thing to consider is that parallax scrolling does not always work well on mobile devices. Since so many people access the web through their phones, it might be worthwhile to create a separate mobile version that doesn’t use parallax.
While parallax scrolling is not without its complications, it is one of the most visually appealing forms of web design. Done correctly and for the right reasons, it can elevate a standard website to something creative and unforgettable.
Contact us today to learn more about parallax scrolling and what it could do for your website.