Diana is a professional Jill of all trades. Her digital work reflects her honesty, attention to detail, and appetite for new technology. Some say it's like a subtle cool breeze on a warm Summer's day. You might find her on Twitter, but she doesn't say much because she's shy.
How many times has a client, manager, or colleague from a different department asked you to deliver something because it’s trendy?
They’ve seen it, they want it. Relevance, be damned.
How often has this trend been completely unsuitable for your website project? Saying “no” and explaining why a trend makes no sense for your website can be a challenge, so it’s helpful to understand what value a trend can add, and how to apply it effectively in your circumstances.
Parallax scrolling as a web design trend was born from the 2D video game world, originally as a hack for the platform to create a sense of depth in a scene. Noticing the rise in parallax scrolling over the last two years, a designer recently decided to apply the style to his newest web project: a landing page for a small line of retail products.
While scrolling, lifestyle shots of the products should move slowly in the background while descriptions of the products should move quickly in the foreground, producing a parallax effect. In practice, however, the parallax scrolling would, by its nature, prevent the faster-moving descriptions from lining up with their slow-moving photos.
This highlights what can go wrong when applying a popular technique because it’s trendy instead of using it because it’s right for the job. So let’s look at when it can be helpful.
Creating Depth with Parallax
Animals use motion parallax to determine their distance from an object — picture a bird bobbing its head up and down to figure out how close they are to animals in their surroundings. When you scroll a web page, the parallax effect creates the illusion of depth because your direct action (scrolling, rather than bobbing your head) affects the relative position of elements, just like moving through the real world does.
This interaction leads to feeling like you’re a part of the scene, immersing you in the content, enticing you to explore further. Scrolling allows you to actively engage with what you’re seeing, and be immediately rewarded with the unveiling of more visual content:
As such, the parallax effect is an excellent technique to use in visual story telling. It’s highly engaging, encourages interaction, and lets you guide your user through a story. In practical terms, this could be a: