Parallax Scrolling: How and When To Use It On Your WordPress Site

Parallax scrolling (or parallax effect) is one of those things you’ve seen a million times around the web but you had no idea what it’s called or how it’s made. In this article, we’re going to take care of that.

What Is Parallax Scrolling?

Parallax is a term that’s actually been around for quite a long time. The term comes from the Greek word παράλλαξις (parallaxis), which means alternation. In astronomy and geometry, it is used to describe an effect in which the position of an object depends on the exact point from which it is viewed.

In web design, parallax is a wildly popular effect that, when employed, causes an illusion of depth and immersion, a 3D effect of sorts. This effect is obtained by making the background move at a slower speed compared to the objects in the foreground.

Parallax has been tremendously popular over the last couple of years. At one point, it used to be everywhere, but, thankfully, web and UX designers realized that parallax is not a good solution for all websites. We can’t exactly talk about a decline in the use of parallax, but it’s certainly starting to be used more appropriately.

When You Should and Shouldn’t Use Parallax Scrolling

Before we show you how to add the dynamic and exciting parallax effect to your site, let’s first see if this dynamic, exciting effect is even suitable for your website.

Adding the parallax effect on your website can definitely spice up your web presence and potentially boost conversions. It provides an interesting, unusual user experience and leaves an impression of a modern, hip business that keeps up with trends, both technological and in terms of design.

However, it does have a few downsides, which make it less than ideal for some websites.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of adding parallax to your WordPress website:

Parallax Scrolling Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • It allows you to place all your content on one dynamic page, which users love since it spares them from having to click on multiple pages and wait for them to load.
  • Parallax is attractive, modern and exciting.
  • It creates a memorable impression.

Cons:

  • It can slow down your site because it takes longer to load than a “normal page.”
  • In most cases, it simply won’t work on mobile.
  • Doesn’t make up for poor site navigation.
  • Not exactly SEO friendly.
  • Can be confusing for your visitors due to excessive scrolling.

Parallax is generally ideal for websites that could use a strong visual impression, such as design and photography portfolios. In addition to creating this powerful illusion of 3D and immersion, parallax also allows you to display your images in a particularly striking manner.

Parallax scrolling is also a good solution for landing pages, again thanks to the unusual effect it produces and also because your most important copy, as well as your contact details and Call to Action, are served to the visitors in this dynamic, engaging way.

On the other hand, parallax might not be such as good idea for websites that people come back to again and again, such as blogs, business websites, online publications and especially not for ecommerce sites. After the striking first impression, parallax just gets old, annoying and frustrating. This is something that every business owner looking for conversions should keep in mind.

Parallax and SEO

Many SEO experts have, over the years, voiced their concerns as to whether parallax scrolling is good or bad for SEO. A lot of them feel that parallax ruins SEO and sabotages good page ranking. The reason for this is simple: in parallax, all the content is placed on one page. Different parts of that page try to rank for different keywords and topics but since they’re not actual, separate pages, Google can’t really index them as such. This means that, if you’re trying to rank for a keyword that is contained in a parallax section somewhere in the middle of the page, you’re most likely going to fail.

There are some workarounds for this, but, as we said, parallax as a whole is definitely not SEO’s best friend.

How to Add Parallax to Your Website

If you’re using WordPress, there are three basic ways you can add parallax scrolling to your website.

Using a Parallax WordPress Theme

A lot of premade WordPress themes come with the parallax scrolling effect included in the premium theme features. The reason for this is simple – people love parallax because it makes their websites look smart, modern and cool.

This sort of solution is ideal for those who are just starting to build their websites from ground zero and could use an entire theme. If you already have a fully designed website – whether it’s custom designed or using a theme – you may want to try a different solution.

Using a Plugin

WordPress is known for a vast variety of plugins that extend the platform’s functionality and can be used to improve user experience. The thing with plugins is, whatever you might need for your WordPress website, there’s probably a plugin for it.

Parallax scrolling is no exception. Browse around the WordPress plugin repository and you’ll see there are plenty of plugins you can use for free.

We particularly recommend ScrollMagic, previously known by the colorful name Superscrollorama. This plugin is extremely easy to use, which makes it ideal for newbies, but it also comes with intermediate and advanced options for more experienced users.

Another cool parallax plugin you can use for free is Parallax Scrolling Enllax.js, a very lightweight solution that is ideal for websites that already use a lot of other plugins. Another great thing about this parallax plugin is that it allows for vertical andhorizontal parallax scrolling, and it works on mobile devices too.

Using Custom CSS

If you’d prefer to avoid plugins and don’t need a new theme for your site, you can try and play around with CSS a bit. Of course, this is not something we’d recommend for beginner WordPress users, but intermediate and advanced ones should definitely give it a shot.

The good folks over at W3Schools offer a very useful quick guide to adding parallax to your site using CSS, along with a testing area where you can try it out with different settings.

Final Thoughts

Parallax scrolling is one of those things that should come with a label saying “Please use with caution!” Its misuse can definitely be harmful for a website, from the user experience issues to the SEO.

On the other hand, parallax scrolling, beautiful and exciting as it is, can turn out to be an amazing asset for your website.

Hopefully, this article managed to clear things up for you about the parallax scrolling effect and help you decide whether or not you should add it to your WordPress website. Good luck with your site and keep us posted!

Digiprove sealThis content has been Digiproved © 2019 Antonie Potgieter

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