The other day I was chatting with one of my buddies and he asked me, “hey Andrew – as a web guy, what do you think of the moving scrolly stuff that sites are doing now?” He was speaking of the emerging design technique called Parallax scrolling as seen on some new highly visible websites such as Spotify, Sony, and dare I say, Google? So I gave him my 2 cents and thought, “I should write that down.” So here I am, writing it down!
Generally speaking, I like Parallax Scrolling. I believe it’s taking web design to the next level and raising the bar, forcing agencies to rethink their “best-practices” and to continue innovating with the web. However, I also believe there are right and wrong situations to use Parallax Scrolling.
So from a technical standpoint, there aren’t any hangups in my book. This brings us to the question, “when should Parallax Scrolling be used?” I find it to be most effective under several circumstances:
- When content is more important than functionality
- When controlling the order by which content presented is of particular importance
- When there’s a definitive conversion required at the end of the presentation
Put simply, Parallax Scrolling is best used when the page is dedicated to telling a story of some kind. If we look to our examples above, we see just that. Sony is telling the story of their new “Be Moved” campaign. A visitor may not know anything about it at the start, so Sony can safely present the information one topic at a time to fully explain the story bit by bit, without confusion. Similarly, the Google Nexus 5 page tells the story of their new Nexus 5 smartphone and what makes it stand out from the crowd. Google highlights each point of the new phone starting with the basics, then getting into each aspect of the phone that consumers are looking for, ordered by importance. Lastly, Spotify – if a visitor doesn’t know what Spotify is or how it works (for shame!) they can simply scroll down to learn all of the bullets that make it great without being overwhelmed with blocks of text and competing elements.
So when should we NOT use Parallax Scrolling?
- When functionality is essential. I suspect that you won’t be seeing any workable Parallax user interfaces for some time.
- When several different topics need to be presented at once. I don’t believe you’ll see any popular news website benefit from this technique.
- When ads need to have a home. Parallax is so clean, ads just muck up the whole idea.
I’m certain that there are more reasons pro and against using Parallax in certain situations, but these should cover the biggest areas for concern.
So, back to my conversation with my buddy. As I relayed this information to him, he was unimpressed and is thoroughly set on hating Parallax scrolling in any incarnation. Ah well, not everyone can be convinced! Let me know what you think about Parallax scrolling in the comments below.