Enhance User Experience Using Parallax Web Design

Parallax seems to be all the rage in web design since the past few years. Noticing this trend, CyberChimps’ released a Parallax WordPress Theme way back in 2014. Parallax design enhances user experience through enhanced visual interactivity. If used well, parallax web design can create some visually stunning pages that users enjoy browsing.

The question is what is parallax really?

In this post, we’re going to discuss what parallax is and why it has taken the web design world by storm.

What Is Parallax Web Design?

Parallax is a web design technique that allows components of a web page to move at varying speeds when a user scrolls.

In simple words, Parallax Scrolling is typically used in websites to say set up a background image or video. When a user scrolls down the website, this background moves at a different speed as compared to the rest of the website. So most WordPress themes that use this parallax scrolling effect are referred to as Parallax Themes.

No doubt this phenomenon creates an appealing visual effect, and it’s no surprise that many web designs are now incorporating it.

How It Works

While parallax is relatively new in web design, the technique has been around for many years and has been applied in various applications. Most notably, parallax scrolling was and is still widely used in gaming applications to create 2-dimensional side scrolling effects.

The effect is achieved by creating a perspective shift in the way an observer views an object. When creating a parallax effect, the aim is to create multiple viewpoints from which you can observe an object against a far-flung background.

Methods for Creating a Parallax Website

Parallax scrolling can be achieved through a couple of methods.

Raster: This method entails compositing and refreshing pixel lines in an image in a top to bottom order. A small delay is introduced between drawing individual lines.

Layers Method: In this method, multiple layers are defined and made to move vertically or horizontally while scrolling at different speeds. Layer movement may be automatic or user-controlled.

Pattern Manipulation: This method creates parallax by floating multiple screens over repeated backgrounds.

Sprite: This method entails compositing various images into one that’s made of pseudo-layers. By positioning the image at different angles, only one part of it will be visible. This method also creates a 3-dimensional effect on flat images.

Use In Web Design

As mentioned previously, parallax web design isn’t a new technique. It’s been used for many years now but has only gained popularity within the web design arena in recent years.

Parallax effects are made possible through JavaScript, but more recently, pure CSS can also be employed to achieve the same. In fact, pure CSS parallax is steadily becoming the method of choice for integrating the technique into web design.

Here is a demo showcasing how pure CSS can be used not only to create smooth scrolling parallax but also eliminate some known issues that arise with the use of JavaScript.

Why Use Parallax Web Design For Your Site?

Without a doubt, parallax web design can greatly add visual appeal to your website if properly implemented. Here is why you ought to use it.

  • Instantly wow website visitors with some nice effects and animation.
  • Guide your visitors through the different parts of the site in an engaging way.
  • Increase time spent on your website since most visitors will scroll through to the bottom of the page until the animations end.
  • Catch visitors’ attention in a powerful way. Good if you have a CTA area on your homepage.
  • Easily direct visitors wherever you want them to go.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Using Parallax

Like many things in web design, parallax has benefits as well as disadvantages. Before you think about applying it in a web project, think about these downsides.

  • When used on a single page website, your SEO will definitely take a hit. You can only have one set of meta info and basically one H1 and URL to use for SEO.
  • If not properly implemented, parallax can cause issues for your website. At the very least, expect slow page loading times.
  • It is difficult (and in some cases impossible) to implement in mobile design especially if implemented with JavaScript.

Parallax Showcase

Thousands of websites are now using the parallax technique to create stunning visual effects. You’re most likely to see it on one-page websites, but the technique can be used on any site.

Here is a very brief list of websites showcasing parallax in action:

Parallax WordPress Theme By CyberChimps

Parallax WordPress Theme

Hero Theme by ThemeTrust

The Hero is a responsive Parallax WordPress theme created by ThemeTrust. It prominently features parallax effects on the main homepage banner. Specifically, you will see this effect first-hand as you scroll down the page; the main banner text moves at a slightly slower speed than the rest of the page before it completely fades.

Beatles Website

There’s a little parallax effect in action here that requires user interaction. In fact, you may not notice unless you move the cursor of your mouse sideways over the clouds on top of the homepage.

Others to check out:



Avenir Clinic

Here are some more examples of parallax design websites.

So what is the future of Parallax Design?

Parallax web design is generally good for your website depending on how it is implemented. Overall, it increases the visual appeal of web pages and is especially effective when used to tell a story. There are potential downsides to using parallax, but if you keep them in mind and try to avoid them during implementation, you can increase visitor engagement on your site.

Do you use parallax on your website or do you know of any particularly outstanding parallax website? Please share in the comments.

About the Author

Brenda Barron is a professional blogger from southern California. Learn more about her work at Digital Inkwell.

  • Kate Supino says:

    As a web user, I can’t stand it when elements move on a web page, ESPECIALLY when they move in an unexpected or unnatural way. Moving elements simply detract from the reading experience, distract the eyes, and make web pages harder to pin down and navigate. For serious web users like me who use the Internet for research and fast information, parallax effects just get in the way. Hopefully this “parallax” trend will come and go quickly.

  • Mr Guy says:

    I like Parallax. Hope it stays.

  • Daniel Keith says:

    Hi Brenda,
    Great post. Building a website in parallax design is always a charm,
    but this decision becomes worst if not implemented properly. You really mentioned very helpful points.

    Thanks for sharing your professional experience.

  • George V says:

    Great article. I first became acquainted with Parallax scrolling over two years ago when I viewed a web trailer for “Life of Pi”, it blew me away, I loved it and its potential for storytelling. I created a detailed wire frame and so far have gone through three developers and well over a years time trying to get it built. Based on my experience, I would have to say that many if not most developers don’t know their Parallax from a hole in the ground. I have avoided going to high end shops, because of price constraints and I am obviously venting my frustration. Any advice or referrals you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

  • Gr8scott says:

    Very informative article and I am looking to implement some Parallax effects sites soon. Thanks for taking the time to balance the positives against the unintended consequences of choosing this option. There is no way to please everyone, but I do think this is nice and appealing approach to add a measure of visual depth to a website.

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