3 Reasons Why You Should Hate Parallax-Scrolling Single-Page Websites

Don't do this.

When I read the article Bob posted below, I noticed that many of the examples of quality sites are of the single-page parallax scrolling variety.  I have never liked this type of site, but the article spurred me to figure out exactly why.  So here are my reasons:

  1. I find them disorienting.  The visual scrolling up and down is distracting to me.  The mental model I have for information on a website is that it is compartmentalized and discrete.  When I click the third link in a navigation, I don’t expect to have to be whizzed past the content in the second page.  Different content, different page.  I should be able to go straight there.
  2. Don’t distract me with flashy moving pictures that don’t communicate anything.  I’m an engineer and tend toward the practical.  I like seeing images that contribute to or are part of the story.  I don’t mind a small image that just makes the content flow better or provides a small point of visual interest.  But please don’t fill the page with giant images while I am trying to read your copy.  It’s hard enough to read as it is.  And even worse, some of these sites are using lots of moving images.
  3. They aren’t any more effective than non-parallax scrolling multi-page websites, and some subset of people (like me) can actually experience motion sickness from them: See “Do Readers Really Prefer Parallax Web Design?” .  Why would you induce nausea in even a small percentage of your visitors when it doesn’t help any of them?

The only time I have seen these types of sites being effective is when they are used to tell a linear, narrative story:  See Jess and Russ, and of course Snow Fall.  I think they work for this because they are linear — you tend to read them from top to bottom and not jump around.  In both of these examples the imagery actually contributes to the telling of the story.

Let me know what you think — if you have an example of a great single-page informational site that you think will change my mind, let me know.

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  1. you give three reasons for hating parallax-scrolling single-page websites but acknowledge the benefit of such a model when it comes to storytelling.

    perhaps the tile of your article should be:

    3 Reasons Why You Should Hate Parallax-Scrolling Single-Page Non-Storytelling Websites Targetting Engineers Like Me

    • Andrew Mottaz says:

      Thanks David – I guess that would be more accurate 😉 I would love to hear an opposing point of view – if they really work great for someone, I’d love to hear why.

  2. Its funny to come across this post now because I’ve been in a slight dilemma as to whether I should enter into offering Parallax sites to clients – as it’s sort of the “cool” thing. I have been of the opinion that Parallax sites are more of a detriment for use for most sites and in reading your article, I didn’t feel alone anymore in that opinion. 🙂 Thx!

    I agree with you that they can work for story and entertainment purposes but for showing larger amounts of content and efficient navigation, I just don’t think Parallax is a good way to go. Like you, I don’t like peering thru pictures to read something. Or getting distracted by the big pics flooding the screen. And I don’t want microcopy all over the place, I want information. I think these Parallax sites have taken the place of what Flash. And that too was OK for stories and entertainment sites. But now that Flash and HTML5 are sort of merging, CSS3 and javascript – I think the web has plenty of “cool” without having to succumb to these ever long pages.

    Now, I think a site like http://www.jkrowling.com/ is an interesting option but still, it’s more entertainment. But still, I’d like to see a page of content or a menu of options that allow ME to choose where I want to go rather than scrolling everywhich way through things that don’t efficiently give me the information or answer I want.

    Interfaces are certainly interesting…and changing!
    Thanks for your post.

  3. Sean Morelli says:

    You read my mind. I really dislike these type of sites and it seems to be the latest fad among designers. I’ve tried to put my thumb on exactly why I don’t like other than feeling disoriented…and this really helps me state my objectives with people when looking to do one of these types of sites. Thanks.

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