The Beauty – and Limitations – of Parallax Scrolling Websites  

The rapid rise of mobile devices has ushered in the Responsive Web Design revolution – websites designed to “respond” to their environment – be it a mobile device or operating system.  With approximately half of all Internet browsing being done on mobile devices, responsive design has become somewhat of a “must have” for most sites. But responsive design isn’t the only option.

Parallax design – or parallax scrolling, features two layers of images moving at different speeds as a user scrolls down (or across), creating a three-dimensional effect. Parallax designs are visually stunning, but they do have some limitations. As an image-heavy design, parallax sites are not great for websites that require extensive information and functionality. Additionally, the reliance on images may cause the site to load more slowly, depending on the user’s connection strength.

For certain websites, however, parallax is a great fit. Take Nintendo’s Australian-based website showcasing one of their games – Mario Kart. The inventive design is intended to get Mario Kart enthusiasts excited for the next iteration of game, as well introduce new players to the game. The site works more like an advertisement than what we think of as a traditional website. It’s an experience. And it’s a great example of how a particular branding goal can be achieved through parallax design.

Perhaps the most innovative and gorgeous example of parallax design is Sony’s website. The electronics giant creates a brand experience by showcasing its engineering bona fides via a tour – inside and out – of its many products as users scroll down. A company as large as Sony, however, can’t rely on a parallax site alone, so they’ve combined a parallax introduction that ends with links to their home website, a responsive-designed, more traditional site. Like Nintendo’s Mario Kart site, Sony’s intro acts as a powerful advertisement and brand experience. And like Nintendo, Sony identified parallax design as a medium through which to communicate a message – and achieve a branding goal. This strategy holds true for any business or organization seeking website solutions. Once your goal is determined and variables and potential roadblocks are identified during the discovery phase, the best option for achieving that goal becomes evident.

Check out a great example of a Parallax site we did for the Bridgepoint Education Community Impact Report. To learn more about parallax design, or to talk about your branding goals, fill out the form to the right and let’s talk!