What is Parallax Scrolling? Benefits and Application

What is Parallax Scrolling?

Parallax scrolling is a web design practice where elements or layers move at different speeds to each other during scrolling. It is often used to make elements in the foreground move at faster speeds than elements in the background, creating a sense of depth in a 2-D website. Watch this video below as an example.

History of Parallax

Parallax scrolling dates back to 1930s cinema, in films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Then in the early 1980s, video game designers started using parallax scrolling to create 3D effects for 2D games. Fast forward to 2011, HTML5 and CSS 3 were introduced, where parallax scrolling effects became easier to produce and grew in popularity. Now web designers and developers can create immersive experiences to capture and engage their audiences. Keep reading to find out how.

Benefits of Parallax Scrolling

Enhanced Storytelling

Brands are realising the secret to improving sales is not pushing more money and time into marketing campaigns, but instead getting the messaging right. People like stories that take them on a journey, so you need to create one. That’s where parallax scrolling comes in.

Parallax scrolling can help you weave a story around a simple website structure. You can add layers, details and enrich your message, helping to increase conversions.

Guide Attention

People love clarity and hate confusion. Parallax scrolling creates clarity by guiding the viewer’s attention to specific elements on a page like CTA’s, email sign up forms or contact information. A static website leaves the user to decide where they want to go, whereas a parallax website strategically reveals information piece by piece. 

Longer Session Durations

The benefits of enhanced storytelling and guiding attention results in a better user experience, which leads to longer session durations. Long session durations are one of the key ranking factors Google and other search engines consider when indexing a website in search results, so it helps with increasing your brand’s visibility.

How to Create a Parallax Design

CSS

Those who know CSS can use it to enable parallax features. There are great tutorials out there, like this one.

WordPress

For WordPress, parallax website code, themes or page-builder plugins can be used. 

Things to Consider

Page Load Speed

Incorporating parallax effects into your website will affect its performance, and your performance is critical in determining your site’s SEO success. If your website loads slowly, users tend to bounce from one website to another very quickly. Therefore, make sure to use tools like PageSpeed Insights to measure your website speed and identify what might be slowing it down.

Returning Visitors

It might be cool the first few times we see it, but novelties can wear off. Make sure to use these effects strategically to attract new visitors, and engage repeat visitors.

Mobile Users

Mobile-first web design is crucial, and so you’ll need to consider disabling parallax scrolling on mobile if it hinders the user experience. Remember, you want to use it as a tool to skilfully draw attention, rather than distract the viewer from the main message.

Example

Our favourite example is PORSCHEvolution, which takes users on a journey from inception to present day. The experience is enhanced through parallax scrolling coupled with clever use of the song “Get Lucky”, adapted to each time era to transport Porsche fans back in time. 

Porsche Evolution

Final Thoughts

Benefits of parallax scrolling include improved storytelling, compelling messages and longer site durations, all helping to attract and engage your target audience. Just be careful to strike the right balance, ensure page speed remains fast and your website is accessible to all users across all devices. If you do that, you’ll be on for a winner.