What is Parallax Website Design? Best Practices and Examples
What are the biggest web design trends you can name off the top of your head? No matter what your list looks like, we bet parallax scrolling is in it. In case we’re completely off and parallax website design didn’t make it to your list, then read on to learn why it should.
As websites continue to get more and more dynamic and incorporate interactive design elements, parallax website design grows more popular. If you’re excited to discover what parallax web design is, how to do it, and some stunning examples, then you’ve landed on the right article. So let’s get started!
What Is Parallax Website Design?
Parallax scrolling is a web design practice where different elements or layers of a website — such as the foreground and background — move at different speeds. And parallax website design is simply a web design that incorporates parallax scrolling. Parallax scrolling effects give a sense of depth and movement to a web page, thus creating a more enjoyable user experience.
The most typical example of parallax web design is when a page’s background moves slower than its foreground, visually creating more space between the two. However, various other parallax scrolling techniques can add a special charm or an element of unpredictability to a website.
Early video games and computer graphics initially popularised parallax effects to create the illusion of depth on a flat display. The same method of using multiple layers of images that move at varying speeds was applied to achieve such an effect. It wasn’t until 2011 that this practice infiltrated the world of web design with the introduction of HTML5 and CSS 3.
The Benefits of Parallax Scrolling
Like most web design techniques, parallax scrolling also has its unique set of benefits that have made it so popular. If you’re debating whether parallax website design is for you, these benefits might convince you to join the trend.
Perhaps, parallax website design is best known for its ability to boost storytelling. It can help weave a story around a simple website structure. Parallax scrolling gives the perfect opportunity to add layers, details, and richness to a web design, compelling its message. These websites provide the visitor with a smooth browsing journey that’s exciting and effortless to follow along. All that's left is to scroll, scroll, scroll.
The allure of parallax scrolling lies in enabling simple, subtle micro-interactions between the website and the visitor that are typically absent on static websites. Such interactions can be a change of color when a user lands on a certain section, a cursor that transforms when hovered over text, etc. These seemingly minute exchanges endear the website to the user, making it appear more responsive and alive.
Aside from being entertaining, parallax scrolling can also be practical when used reasonably. It is a clever trick to guide the viewer’s attention to the necessary elements on a website, such as CTA buttons, email sign-up forms, contact information, etc. If a static web design leaves the user to choose where to go first, a parallax website reveals information piece by piece, thus leading the guest.
Longer Session Durations
All the benefits mentioned above give the user a positive experience of a website, leading to them staying on the site longer. Long session durations are one of the key ranking factors Google and other search engines consider when indexing a website in search results.
Suppose a visitor stays on your site instead of leaving it soon after entering; the average on-site time increases, and the bounce rate decreases. Google recognises this as a sign that people enjoy the content you provide and consequently pushes your website to more visitors.
How to Use Parallax Website Design Correctly
Now that you’re well-acquainted with the tempting benefits of parallax website design, it’s time to learn the best practices. Notice how we didn’t name this section “Best Practices of Parallax Website” or “Tips for Parallax Web Design” but went for something more cautionary. It’s because a parallax website is not for everyone and should be approached with caution.
To ensure you use parallax scrolling to your advantage, let’s discuss some of the best practices to follow.
Mind the Page Load Speed
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that incorporating complicated effects into your website will affect its performance. Parallax scrolling is one of those effects. Long page load time is detrimental to a site’s SEO success. Users tend to bounce from one website to another and are very quick to exit a web page if it loads slowly.
Make sure that your website’s performance doesn’t suffer too much from the added parallax effects. You can determine your website speed and identify what might be slowing it down. There are a lot of online resources out there to help you accomplish this. Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool is one of them.
Consider Returning Visitors
Alright, let’s face it: A cool parallax design might be impressive the first time we see it — possibly even the first couple of times. But it does get old and repetitive after a while. A funky figure jumping from a hidden corner might catch a first-time visitor off guard, but the same trick won’t cut it the next time they visit.
Parallax design can be a great choice for you if you want to attract new visitors to your website. But too many entertaining effects and not enough value will eventually cause your website to lose its charm. Be sure to strike the right balance considering the target audience you want to attract.
Use in Moderation
At its best, parallax web design will skillfully draw attention to all the right places on a website. At its worst, it will distract the viewer from the main message, leaving them at a loss. Using parallax effects in moderation and at the right places will ensure your case is the former.
It’s important to think of accessibility when designing a parallax website. A parallax design is mostly incompatible with mobile devices, responsible for more than half of online traffic. In addition to this, parallax website design could be incompatible with older browser versions.
Suppose your website receives a lot of traffic from mobile, limit or eliminate parallax scrolling on your site’s mobile version. Responsive web design is a non-negotiable feature for all websites to give guests a smooth user experience across all device types.
How to Create a Parallax Website Design
If you considered the previous points and have a green light from search engines, your audience, and your conscience, then let’s address the technical side of things. There are many ways to implement parallel scrolling on your website. Your options range from using parallax website code to ready-made website templates.
Those who are no stranger to coding can use CSS to enable parallax features. The most straightforward way is to create a container element and set the background image height. Use the “background-attachment: fixed” property to stimulate the parallax scrolling effect.
For WordPress users, parallax website code, themes, or page-builder plugins can be used. We use the Elementor page builder: the motion effects are advanced enough to achieve any effect we need. Most importantly, the widgets allow disabling parallax on any device size. And as a third alternative, you can opt for pre-made parallax website templates that already employ parallax scrolling.
10 Best Parallax Website Examples
It’s time to sit back and enjoy ten of the most creative parallax website examples that ensure a unique browsing experience. We’ll discuss what exactly makes these websites great so you can draw inspiration for your project.
Apple is a brand well-known for its sleek, innovative designs, which certainly extends to their website as well. The AirPods Pro page manages to incorporate impressive parallax scrolling techniques while keeping the page load speed in check. As the background visuals move at their own speeds, the text keeps smoothly sliding to communicate information without making it boring.
Featured in “Top 10 Elementor Sites of January 2021”, our web design and development for Brandingo convey the creative agency’s innovative spirit through a dynamic web design. From the sliding headline to the scroll-responsive doodles and shapes, the parallax techniques work in perfect harmony to amp up the design.
PORSCHEvolution takes us on another ride through history. This ingenious website presents nearly a century’s worth of evolution of Porsche cars — or should we say, of PorschEvolution. Each decade is presented with a new layer that sleekly glides over the previous one so as to allow the viewer to closely compare the car designs.
Rising Ballers needed a concise, yet impactful one-page landing website. Our web design for the brand emphasises their initiatives, credentials and beautifully shot videos with large typography and vibrant colours. The separation between layers is rather prominent, making navigation easy. Each section gradually rises from the bottom to lay atop its predecessor. And this parallax approach is exactly what gives the website its unique feel. Rising Ballers was also featured in “Top 10 Elementor Sites of August 2021”.
The Canals website uses parallax scrolling to create a one-of-a-kind virtual journey through the history of Amsterdam’s famous canals. The horizontal scrolling and subtle parallax effects on images and headings give this site its unique feel. The years progress as you keep scrolling, granting you a historical run-through and a memorable web experience.
Bite produces plastic-free personal care to promote a sustainable lifestyle. The company’s designated “Sustainability” page showcases a stunning execution of parallax website design. With each scroll, you take a deeper dive into the ocean where, unfortunately, aquatic animals and plastic waste live together.
Ray-Ban shows another great example of horizontal parallax scrolling. You can clearly see the separation of layers as each new section rolls over the last one. Ray-Ban uses parallax to showcase all the available colors of the glasses. Just scroll and watch the glasses take on a new color.
As a true combination of the modern and the classical, Squarespace’s Browser History website creates the illusion of a 3D space through parallax design. The background images feel alive as they respond to every movement of the cursor. The transition between exhibits is gradual, fluid, and dynamic.
Warning: The website has sound
The Rezo Zero website is a stunning example of how creative agencies can make use of parallax website design. Since this site is pretty simple in its structure, the parallax details add a touch of dynamism to the design. The effects are very faint but feel just right for the minimal style of the website.
If you’re a lover of minimal yet classy design, our final parallax website design for cognac brand Delamain will certainly interest you. When scrolled through, the text elements and images move ever so slightly to add a bit of movement without causing disorientation.
This concludes our guide on parallax website design. Parallax effects have quite a few benefits: improved online storytelling, compelling messages, more interactions with the visitor, and longer time spent on site.
However, be careful not to abuse parallax design as it can end up overshadowing your main message. Essentially, the primary purpose of any web design element is to enhance the site’s user experience. So make sure your design does just that.
We hope that you found what you were looking for in this article. Best of luck with your website design!