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Web Design Trends: Parallax Websites

In the past couple of years web design has shifted to a cleaner, more minimalistic approach to building websites; with pixel perfect Web 2.0 starting it all. Parallax websites are based off of very intricate and detailed designs, focusing on a more graphical approach to get the point across (be it company information, product display, ecommerce, etc.).

What is Parallax Design?

Using retro ‘80s style platform arcade games as the basic inspiration, parallax designs use JavaScript and CSS to help enhance the user’s experience by layering multiple background images on top of one another, setting them to separate scroll speeds to give the appearance of three-dimensional depth and movement when the user navigates throughout the site.

The website consists of a single webpage with all the normal web content seamlessly fitting with the design. As a rule of thumb, typically “call to actions” occur at the end of the page. After the user has seen and read everything, they have an opportunity to learn more about the company or product.

Examples parallax sites in action

Of course there are always pros and cons that arise from new technologies.

Done right, parallax websites can bring literal life to any website. They are modern and sleek with a heavy emphasis on design elements. Since this technology is fairly new, most designs have a very modern and minimal feel to them. Stock photography cutouts and collages are also very common with the use of motion scrolling.

Parallax websites are also perfect for companies that are attempting to bring a web presence to a specific product. The creation blends perfectly for product display and storytelling within the site. They add that extra spark of creativity that most basic websites lack. Having a user interact with a website even if they are uninterested in the product, is better than that user instantly going back to Google to search for a different one.

Issues concerning parallax designs and how to fix them

There are some issues that need to be addressed when deciding to design a parallax website. The first of which is its complex development. As stated earlier, there is some light JavaScript coding that needs to be done to create the three-dimensional effect that parallax is good for. Luckily though, there are plenty of “How to’s” and templates on the web these days to help ease the coding headache.

Loading time is also another major concern with customers using parallax designs. The single image heavy page can take far longer to load than your standard five page static HTML site. Some simple extra CSS development should be able to help with this issue. There is no single clear cut answer, as every site is different, although using the new CSS3 standards (which are intended to deplete images all together) should help ease some of the extra load time.

The last major concern that people have with parallax websites are the lack of SEO friendliness. As the site is built to be a single webpage, there are obvious issues that occur when competing on search engines with fuller, content heavy websites. These basic issues (without going into too much detail) include the use of only a single H1 tag and meta data. Luckily there is a work around for this as well. One solution to solve this problem is to simply create multiple pages for the website and convert your HTML file types to PHP. By using a simple PHP snippet you can call to the content on these pages and have them show up on your index page. This way your site can compete with other websites on Google and other search engines.

In closing, parallax design is one of the most creative ways to spice up any website. Although time restraints, graphic overload, and pure necessity may keep it from ever becoming a best practice, that is not to say it will not make one killer portfolio piece!

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