The Pros and Cons of Parallax Website Design

Parallax websites are quickly growing in popularity as web designers continue push the envelope and the capabilities of web browsers in order to wow visitors. You have to admit, a smooth scrolling parallax website captivates users and provokes intense curiosity. Visitors tend to stay on your website longer, if only to play with the slick scrolling and take in the stunning imagery. That alone is a step in the right direction as you ultimately want to encourage users to stay on your website for as long as possible.

Here are a few examples of beautiful parallax websites:

For all the positive aspects of a parallax website there are some drawbacks to consider.

A Search Engine Optimization Nightmare

Parallax website design simply is not SEO-friendly. Due to the nature of parallax websites, all of your site content exists on one single page. This means that you miss the opportunity to define important meta data and title tags within the site, which are one of the most important factors in determining page rankings in your favourite search engine.

Traditional websites offer the opportunity to target keywords by using meta tags on individual pages which communicate with search engines to establish your page ranking.

Additionally, in a parallax environment we tend of have multiple H1 headings on the page, which compete with each other for the search engine crawler’s attention because they are on the same page. This does not help clearly establish what your site is about and ultimately hurts your page ranking.

With a traditional website we tend to have a larger H1 heading at the top of each content page and sub headings which follow to help break up content, which search engines love.

Slow to Load, Quick to Leave

What’s more, having a bulk of images on one page can slow your website’s load time, which is a leading cause of visitor frustration moving them promptly depart your website for the competition.

By breaking your site up into content pages in the traditional sense you allow for faster load times and a more fluid and intuitive navigational experience for your user that will allow them to quickly find the information they were looking for and hopefully turn into a conversion for your business.

The Future is Mobile

Have you heard of responsive web design? If not, it is essentially the art of designing a website that is adaptive to the device or screen size your user is viewing the site on. This means that no matter how your visitor views your site, whether it be on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone, the site will adjust itself to accommodate the screen size and offer an optimal viewing solution.

That said, parallax scrolling websites are difficult to design responsively. We tend to have to create a separate mobile specific website that offers a completely different experience to the user from the desktop version. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re a stickler for brand consistency like I am, it’s nothing short of nails on a chalk board! Not to mention your client may not be happy with the added expense and administration requirements of creating a second version of their website.

The Solution

So what to I tell my clients? Good design is a harmony between form and function. If parallax design is a must have, why not create a sexy home page that shows off this new technology and offers tidbits of information which help drive users to separate content pages? This way we can solve the issues I’ve covered above and still maintain that special wow-factor with the home page.

What are your thoughts or solutions on this conundrum?

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