What is Parallax Web Design?

Parallax Scrolling is a fairly new website design trend. I’ve heard people use the word parallax interchangeably with animate. They both involve moving objects, but the difference is elements moving at seemingly different rates. The website background moves at a different rate to the other foreground objects on the page.

It is typically triggered when a user scrolls down a page. Scrolling back up can reverse the effect. Note: some sites scroll sideways. Regardless of the scroll type, it can create a really cool 3-D sensation.

Pros of Parallax Scrolling

Parallax scrolling can benefit a user by allowing a lot of content to be consumed on a signed page.  It is visual entertaining. People often scroll up and down a page to see the effect repeatedly. This might just be because it is relatively new. I suspect it will become a regular part of improving user experiences in the future.

Cons of Parallax Scrolling

Using a lot of large images on a single page can dramatically increase page load times. That sounds positive, but if not properly optimized the images can make the page load very slow. This can lead to a negative experience for mobile users and can also lower search rankings. It can overwhelming and down right annoying.

As with many design technique, just because you can doesn’t necessary mean that you should. ~:-) That being said, when used properly it can create an extremely engaging experience. Good parallax web design is more of an art than a science.

The best way to explain this is to see it in the wild. Here are a couple of my favorite examples of Parallax Scrolling; I invite you to check out the Fire Watch Game (website). I haven’t actually checked out the game, but I really enjoy the website.


Another fave of my mine is a cool local site. The Seattle Space Needle uses parallax to give you a free ride up the Needle.


I’m currently doing some experimenting of my own on my own my personal site. oscarmyre.com

Oscar Myre IV is a contract Visual Designer with Allied Telesis in Seattle.  Oscar enjoys playing outside with his kiddos. Visit omOriginals.com

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