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— Feb 2, 2013 —

The Parallax Effect

I don't mind a trend.

The yo-yo craze in my 3rd year of middle school.

Having your hair in "curtains" in the mid-90s.

Wearing a long-sleeved top under a short-sleeved t-shirt (I'm thinking of bringing that one back).

These are things that, to me, were great at the time, but looking back on it, with 20/20 hindsight, you wonder how that ever became a 'thing'.

For me, this has already happened with these Parallax websites that keep popping up.

Yes, I was wowed the first time, and even a few more times after that. My issue is that now people are doing it for the sake of it. Toward the end of last week, one of my work colleagues told me to go and check out Spotify's site update. I thought this would definitely be worth a look, so off I went.

And it was worth a look. A great looking, simple, single page. One big strap-line.  One big call to action. And the icing on the cake was the video background and good use of audio. I've seen this a few times (the video background thing, hell, I even did it myself once), and each time I have seen it implemented, it has been done well. Off the top of my head, another one I recently came across was the Maersk website, I'd say it's worth checking out.

Anyway, back on topic. As I already had Spotify installed, I thought the 'Find out more' link was the next place to go.

*Click*

Oh dear. So little content and so much time to scroll and look for what I'm trying to read about. Was there really a need for all of that parallax stuff?

Excluding the main navigation, there are a total of 336 words on that page (courtesy of a little Chrome browser extension call Word Count).

The length of the page (according to a quick console command of $(document).height();) is 8186 pixels.

336 words spanning 8186 pixels.

That's one single word for just over every 24 pixels.

I was under the impression that "content is king" still stands...

 A caveat

Not all parallax sites do my box in. There are some great examples that I think work exceedingly well.

Soleil Noir's Believe In  for example. Or The Story of Jess & Russ.

But the thing that these sites do that the Spotify site (and others like it) doesn't, is tell a story. They use the parallax effect to accentuate the content, to go hand-in-hand with the story, to make it more engrossing for the user.

Used properly, the parallax effect can be a very powerful tool.

But should you use it on your site?

For that, we really must use our industry stock answer: "It depends".

What do you think?