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Parallax Websites and Scrolling Web Design: Impressive or Bad for SEO?

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Parallax websites, often known as “scrolling websites” or “one page websites” are now a commonly used type of website design. Parallax websites have all their content on one long web page, usually with multiple anchors (or on-page links) to divide content. The style was popularized in 2011, when sports brand Nike designed a parallax site. Since then, numerous websites have adopted parallax designs for their impressive graphic style.

Though parallax designs are visually striking and fun for users to navigate, they aren’t perfect. They’ve been known to hinder SEO efforts and can have issues appearing consistent across various browsers. Bellow are some of the pros and cons of developing a parallax website for your brand.

What Makes Parallax Websites so Attractive?

They’re Visually Striking
There’s no question that parallax designs are striking. They rely heavily on design elements, visuals and movement, so they capture viewers’ attention. When done correctly, they are captivating, and a delight to navigate.

They Tell a Story
Parallax websites are often presented in a linear format that gives users a path to follow. Unlike traditional websites, which allow visitors to choose their path and find pages that interest them, parallax websites lead visitors through the site by hand – i.e. it implies that you should scroll from the top to the bottom. This allows brands to develop a story and bring warmth and interest to their website.

They Provide Great User Experience
One of the reasons web designers (and Internet users!) are so captivated by parallax websites is because they make navigating a website into an experience. You don’t simply click from one page to the next. You transition seamlessly from one spot to the next. Instead of simply navigating, you transition in an almost animated manner.

They’re Simple to Navigate
What’s easier to navigate than a single page website? There’s no way to get lost in the depths of a website when it’s only one page. More and more Internet users are gravitating towards simple solutions that are concise and user-friendly. Parallax websites deliver on the promise of simplicity and look cool doing so.

They Feel Fresh and Modern
Parallax designs have a distinctly modern feel to them. Just as some outdated web designs bring to mind the flat, corporate feel of 90s web design, parallax websites feel new, fresh and cutting edge. The interesting visual effect of scrolling seamlessly between pages lends modernity and the feeling that you’re navigating a high-tech website with impressive programming behind it.

Why Think Twice About a Parallax Design?

They’re Difficult to Optimize
There’s no doubt that parallax websites look impressive. However, they tend to be more style than substance. With a one page website, there simply isn’t the capability to include the hearty content that search engines look for when ranking pages. Without quality content that can be infused with keywords and other search engine signals, parallax designs are difficult to optimize for SEO.

They Lack Unique Meta Data
Search engines rely heavily on meta data and H1s to determine what your website, your business, and your products and servicesare about. As a single page of content, parallax designs only get one shot at meta titles, meta descriptions, and H1 tags. Could you sum up all of your business’s key products and services in only 70 characters? With a parallax site, that’s what you have to do. Having multiple website pages geared towards each of your most prominent products and services allows you to optimize for a variety of keywords and topics that are related to your business, so your page can be indexed on search engines for all of them. A parallax site, only allows you to cherry pick a single, limited focus, thus losing out on a lot of search opportunity.

They Can Be Slow to Load
Parallax sites have all your content and visuals on a single page. That one page contains every single element of your site that is available to visitors, so in some cases visitors have to wait for an entire site to load at once. Because of this, parallax sites can sometimes be slower than more traditional multi-page websites, which break down content into multiple pages, which are more concise and easier to load.

They Can Run into Browser Incompatibility
Some browsers don’t recognize the coding behind parallax websites. Parallax scrolling is a fairly recent development in website programming. Even basic HTML and CSS which have been around for decades aren’t completely standard across browsers, so as you can imagine, newer and more dynamic coding styles such as jQuery and JavaScript are even less consistent. This means your parallax website may not work correctly on some browsers.

It’s Difficult to Measure Results
Web analytics programs rely on multiple pages to track which pages your visitors go to, and how long they spend on each page. With only a single page, visitor engagement is extremely difficult to measure. You’ll only have a value for time on site to measure user engagement. Other valuable insights provided through web analytics such as bounce rate, pages viewed, time on page, most visited pages, and so on are all unusable on a parallax website. Without this data, you will be missing opportunities to gain insights on how to further optimize user experience and improve conversion rates.

Is there a Happy Medium Between Visually Interesting and SEO Friendly?

Of course! If you’re impressed by the dynamic nature of parallax designs, don’t think that you have to give up striking visuals for the sake of quality SEO. It’s possible to create an impressive website that has both. It’s simply a matter of knowing how to combine the two in a search engine friendly way.

Two Options We Recommend:

  • With smart programming, it’s possible to assign multiple pages within a parallax design, so you get the look and feel of a one page website, that actually has multiple, trackable URLs and unique SEO elements for each.
  • HTML5 and responsive web designs are ideal for providing intriguing visual styles and positive user experience on desktops and all types of mobile devices. HTML5 allows web designers to create transitions, animations, and special effects, like parallax designs, yet it’s more cross-browser compatible. Using HTML5 in a responsive web design allows for multiple pages, better SEO and an overall impressive site experience.

There’s a reason why parallax websites have been adopted and popularized by brands that already have strong brand recognition. These brands already have built a loyal audience and they know their websites will be found based on their brand no matter what. They don’t rely as heavily on SEO and search-driven traffic as much as small and medium-sized businesses need to.

In order to get the most out of your website as a small or medium-sized business, you need to prioritize lead generation through SEO in combination with a visually appealing and user-friendly website.

At Eden, we help clients find this balance. If you’re developing a website for your business, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll help you find an ideal solution that combines quality SEO, user-experience and a fabulous design.

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