by Norma Maxwell | Featured Contributor
If you’ve spent any time online in the past year, you’ve most likely visited a website that’s been designed with a popular web design trend called Parallax Scrolling. I see people having their sites redesigned in this way every day, and have several clients who’ve inquired about it in recent months. I usually talk them out of it, opting instead for an equally visually powerful design minus the cons associated with this popular trend. In this post, I’ll cover the things you’ll want to consider before switching to this kind of website design, so you can make your own informed decision.
What is Parallax Scrolling?
Parallax Scrolling gives the feeling of fluid movement by keeping background images fixed as the foreground images scroll. Rather than the user clicking a link to go to each page of the website, parallax scrolling allows them to view the entire website in one seamless document. By scrolling up and down on the same page, the visitor experiences the entire website. Examples of this type of web design can be seen here and here.
Visually, parallax web design is interesting, creating an initial “wow” factor. It can also create confusion for anyone visiting for the first time. In my opinion, the problems created by this popular design trend outweigh the benefits–especially if you rely on your website to help you maintain a strong online presence for your business. Good looks matter, but not at the expense of good function.
Parallax Scrolling is Not Intuitive
As people become increasingly web savvy, many designers argue convention in design isn’t necessary. But people–especially busy people–are creatures of habit. They like and prefer convention. Good design solves problems. It doesn’t create them. If you have a fancy website, but irritate your visitors, all the “wow” factor in the world won’t convert them into paying customers and clients. Parallax scrolling is still new to people, and it can easily create questions like “Where am I?” or worse, “How do I find what I’m looking for?” in the mind of your visitors.
The best thing you can do to create a positive user experience for your website visitor is make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. People want to see everything that’s important to them when they first land on your website, without having to scroll or search to find it. Over the years, studies have consistently shown the majority of people find excessive scrolling annoying. The best way to create a website that works for you, and sends you leads, loyal customers and clients is to not annoy them upon their arrival.
Parallax Scrolling Slows Website Load Time Big Time
Although parallax scrolling websites can be visually compelling, they use special coding that creates special effects triggered by each scroll of the mouse. The code has to reload every time your visitor moves down the page, triggering these special effects, which really slows down the load time of each sequence. This can really wear on a visitors patience.
Also, because all of content is contained in one file, all the text, images, and media have to load when the visitor first arrives on the website. If the website takes more than 4 seconds to load, most of your visitors will bounce (leave rather than wait for your website to finish loading). That’s a hefty price to pay for a little “wow” factor that any potential visitor who bounces won’t get to see in the first place.
Parallax Scrolling is Not Mobile-Friendly
Parallax Scrolling websites aren’t mobile-responsive. This means they don’t adjust (and look good) on a desktop computer, tablet, smartphone, or any other device browser in a way that ensures your most important information is visible. Not good.
Even though some parallax designs claim to be mobile-responsive, the extra code required to make these sites function in the way they’re intended, cause frequent glitches for mobile and tablet visitors (which irritates them). Since more than 25% of Americans now use only mobile to access the internet*, having a mobile-responsive website (that works just as well as your desktop version) is no longer optional for businesses who depend on their website to be the face of their company to the millions of internet users worldwide.
Parallax Scrolling is Not Neccessarily SEO-Friendly
Since some–not all–parallax scrolling websites are built on one page, it can be difficult to optimize the website content for search. A website designed to have several pages, allows you to optimize each page and it’s unique content for search, which increases your likelihood of being found in search dramatically. You can also draw visitors to your website content by optimizing one to three unique keywords per page instead of trying to find just three words to describe the content of your entire website.
Your Website Can Be Awesome Without It
The good news is that you can still have a beautiful, powerful, and eye catching design created for your website without the use of parallax scrolling. The bells and whistles created by using all this extra code is simply not worth the price you’ll pay in lost visitors and poor user experience. Reach out to me if you have questions. Let’s discuss your website goals and together determine the best and most effective ways for you to reach them!
WordPress Design + Development and Strategic Online Success Building – Norma Maxwell in Fargo, ND
Norma is the Founder and CEO of Connect Interactive, LLC, a digital creative agency that specializes in WordPress design, development and strategic online success building. Her passion is helping clients create a strategic online presence that not only connects with the right people, but resonates long after they have made their first contact.
Norma has been designing and developing websites and consulting with clients on their online success strategy since 2002. In 2010, she launched Connect Interactive, LLC in order to focus on creating custom websites exclusively on the WordPress platform. Her clients include authors, speakers, coaches, bloggers, artists, designers, and similar creative professionals and businesses from all over the world.
Norma lives in North Dakota with her husband, Martin, and two boys, Charlie and Josh. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with friends, drinking coffee, hitting local garage sales, and watching movies on family pizza and movie night with her boys.