Web design trends constantly change, but the effect of parallax has been popular for quite a long time, and doesn’t seem to be leaving the top trend list yet. Nowadays that interactive browsing and engaging design became the number one priority among web designers and developer, and parallax scrolling is gaining significant momentum. It has made a critical shift in user interface design and thus positively impacts user experience.
What is Parallax effect?
The word parallax comes from Ancient Greek παράλλαξις (parallaxis), which means 'alternation'. Parallax scrolling is a technique first used in video games in order to give a 3D feel to a 2D scene. The effect was achieved by making the foreground image move faster than the background, thus giving a feel of immersion and depth. The technique became very popular and started to be used in animations since 1930-s. Today, the same effect is used in website design to make storytelling and user experience more stunning. Actually, in website design parallax can be achieved in several ways. Sometimes the background is stable, and only the foreground image is moving. In other cases, the background image is also moving, but at a slower pace. Yet in other cases there can be a single or several objects instead of a foreground display. Parallax scrolling is being widely used in different types of websites, such as company sites, landing pages, as well as web portfolios and so on.
What are the Advantages of Parallax Scrolling?
Useless to mention, that parallax makes any website more aesthetically appealing. It attracts users with its sense if depth and animation. Most often the words fun and engaging come to help describe the impact of parallax scrolling on users. As a result, it helps designers wow new visitors, make them return again and again as well as share this excitement, thus turning a site visitor into a brand promoter.
It is also proven that parallax effect cuts down website bounce rate. In case you didn't know, bounce rate shows the number of visitors, who leave the website before exploring any other page there. And, surely it has a negative impact on a website ranking. In this regard, parallax is a great visual effect, which gives an opportunity to surprise visitors as they are scrolling down. Because people are mostly curious by nature, few of them will leave the website without revealing all the expected surprises. In this way parallax stimulates longer page visit time, leaves a deeper impact on a visitor and makes it more difficult to forget about your story. Moreover, longer page visits give a high probability for users to press the desired call-to-action buttons.
For product sites, it gives an opportunity to demonstrate and constantly keep the product with all its details in front of the users' eyes.
Parallax effect helps to emphasize the uniqueness of your website and, of course, your brand. It highlights the professionalism of the company/individual, as well as the high level of creativity, which is so crucial in today’s business world.
What are the Negatives of Parallax Web Design?
Although interactive and visually stunning, parallax effect also has its dark sides that can significantly impact usability and search engine optimization (SEO).
In web design, there is a trend of long format single page implementations of parallax, and here comes the part when parallax becomes detrimental for SEO. Google recommends a single heading tag per page, as search engine spiders check for the most important heading to find associated content. Having one long page allows to put only one effective heading and one URL, as well as no internal page linking. Thus it is more recommended to have multi-page parallax scrolling to achieve an SEO friendly architecture with an extra effort.
A major drawback that needs attention is the web page loading time. No matter how you implement parallax, you are sacrificing a bit of your website loading time, as parallax is not well known for its speed. As people nowadays have limited time, some of the visitors may leave the page, without even seeing your stunning design if the website fails to load fast. Compromising user traffic is not the best result you would expect when designing a fancy website. In this regard, it is very important not to overuse the parallax effect.
Yet another significant factor to be considered is mobile browsing. Parallax is not fully compatible with responsive design. Especially now, that mobile browsing officially became more popular then desktop one, it is very important to reconsider your niche users before incorporating a parallax scrolling into your website. It is also advisable to consider if your niche is tech savvy or not, as they may find it difficult to search for info in your website. Yet some other people with motion sickness may find the effect extremely unappealing.
Generally, parallax effect is more beneficial for one visit websites, such as portfolios, as constantly having the same animated background that does not surprise visitors after the first time, may result in a frustrating and annoying user experience.
To sum up, it is very important to consider all the pros and cons of this booming trend for your own case and your niche market, and use it in your website wisely.