Webpages used to be short. When you landed on a homepage, you got a short description, some images, and a selection of links that would lead you to more information. That first page kept things brief and to the point.
For the last several years, however, a new kind of page has grown in popularity, one that relies on a long scrolling format, known as parallax.
Why is parallax so popular? The answer hinges on a combination of functionality, visual appeal, and marketing effectiveness.
A Practical Approach
From the customer perspective, one of the best things about parallax design involves function – it helps users overcome the barriers presented by being a new user, for example, and consolidates information in a visually pleasing way.
When a new user comes to a website, they need to get a sense of what the site offers but clicking around a dozen different pages isn’t a great way to do that. Parallax sites allow designers to set up content so that all of the key information is in one place – on the homepage – and that information has a narrative structure. The long scrolling format also prevents clutter, allowing readers to move through it at their own pace. Just because there’s a lot of information doesn’t mean it needs to be overwhelming.
Consider this wedding website – unsurprisingly crafted by a pair of designers – and its timeline-style approach. Jess and Russ have a lot of information to share with their guests, and a lot of delightful visual effects in store, but it’s not all crammed into one place. They tell their story over a long, scrolling spread.
Another core advantage of parallax style design is that it relies heavily on visual effects. In fact, themes like AccessPress Parallax let designers build 3D visuals into their sites. Maybe you don’t want to go quite that far, but still, at a time when visuals are key to engagement, you need a design format that supports that.
Visuals on a parallax-based site can work in a few different ways. For example, the images on TYME’s homepage feed from one into the next seamlessly, allowing the company to highlight different products as well as users. Each visual section is connected to the last, but also a separate part of the narrative, letting you know more about the brand.
Alternatively, there are sites that use parallax to create one long, moving image, such as the image sample seen here. The clip of sky shifts as you scroll so that it seems to be moving with you, just as it would if you were looking at the real sky. This kind of image flow is the epitome of what parallax is known for.
Engagement And Conversions
Finally, parallax is popular because it offers extraordinary marketing appeal, largely through the experience of dynamic motion. Rather than a dull, flat site where readers are faced with a block of text and stable images, parallax sites offer a level of interactivity that can make it seem as though the user has climbed inside.
Parallax is designed to allow for functions like video layering that traditional sites can’t handle, and these effects can be subtle but powerful. Take a look at Cost Coffee’s site for a great example. Cars drive by in the background, the awning sways in the breeze, but none of this is the core purpose of the site. It’s about deepening user experiences and enhancing them. Goodbye, sad stills!
Parallax-based web design has gained significant traction over the past few years, and as designers learn more about how to innovate on the format, we can expect websites to only grow in complexity. Is parallax right for your site? If you have a story to tell, it could be just what you need.