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GuidesUser experience (UX)Parallax in UX design: Definition and best practices

Parallax in UX design: Definition and best practices

Last updated

19 April 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Parallax is a common word in astronomy, referring to the apparent shift in the position of an object when we view it from different positions. Objects in the foreground appear faster and more energetic than those in the background. 

Because of parallax, humans perceive objects in front as three-dimensional. But how does parallax impact user experience (UX) design?

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How does parallax relate to UX design?

Aesthetics, usability, and hedonic qualities are critical for UX design. 

A good user experience may lead to happiness, pleasure, pride, and enjoyment. Parallax can improve your emotions when interacting with a product or technology. Designers also use parallax to make the design seem like real life.

We can trace parallax’s use back to the early 1980s when designers used it in video games, particularly side-scrolling arcade games. It enhanced storytelling and added depth and dynamics to the scene. The aim was to offer gamers an immersive, more engaging experience. 

In the early 2010s, parallax became popular in web design. 

What is a parallax effect?

The parallax effect is a design feature where a web page's foreground moves faster than the background. It creates an illusion of depth, giving the content a 3D effect as users scroll down. Everything seems to be floating in space instead of being fixed. 

Benefits of using a parallax effect

The parallax effect has several advantages on a website, including:

Targets user focus

The effect can keep the viewer's eyes on a particular element by seemingly animating something or everything around it to maintain focus. 

Helps break up content

Designers can use the parallax effect to aesthetically display crucial company offerings, especially on business-to-business websites, which usually have a lot of information. 

Provides a sense of scale

The parallax effect presents elements on varying levels, allowing users to differentiate them. As a result, a viewer gets a sense of scale that 2D static images cannot convey easily.

Offers modern design

Many companies incorporate sleek, flowing designs in their modern web and mobile application aesthetics. The parallax effect can give a fresh and stylish look and feel.

Gives a 3D depth

The parallax effect separates layers and moves them at different speeds, tricking the viewer's mind into perceiving three-dimensional depth. 

Considerations when using parallax 

Embedding parallax sections to your website has many benefits, including improving its visual effects. But when using parallax, consider the following:

Choosing background images

Ensure the images you select for each background section are relevant to your website and brand-appropriate. Use high-quality, eye-catching photographs for a professional, unique look. 

Visuals can give your audience a strong impression, prompting them to remember your website and return. 

In addition to choosing the right background images, how you place them matters greatly. 

If you want to place a header or more content above the background image, use subtle patterns or a block color that works with your content. An eye-catching graphic or photo could distract the viewer. 

Parallax on mobile

Parallax often doesn't work smoothly on phones and tablets. While desktops use the scroll method, mobile devices use swipe navigation, which may not render the parallax effects correctly.

Of course, the method and animations for the parallax section may give varying outcomes. Disabling the parallax effect on devices could be the best choice for usability. 

Parallax and accessibility

Besides reducing the site's usability on devices, parallax can also lead to accessibility challenges. As the effect is motion-based, it may present device or browser compatibility issues. 

It can also complicate readability due to the contrast issues caused by moving layers. Therefore, be extra careful when embedding a parallax section into a website. 

How can you add parallax scrolling to your site? 

Beginners and intermediate users can add parallax to their websites using a plugin. 

WordPress plugins offer amazing features and are one of the most convenient tools for adding an effect. 

Parallax WordPress plugins

Here's how to add parallax scrolling to a website using WordPress Advance Background Plugin:

1. Install the plugin

Visit the WordPress dashboard to download and activate the Advance background plugin. Navigate to the page option in the WordPress Dashboard's menu.

2. Choose the page or post 

Select where you want to add the parallax effect. A new button will emerge in your editor, and hovering over it shows 'Advanced WordPress Backgrounds.' 

3. Add a pop-up 

Select it to reveal a pop-up where you can set different values and adjust the effect settings. 

4. Choose your visuals 

Select the background type and image you want to use. You can also check the box indicating 'stretch' to get a complete-width image. 

5. Set parameters

Select the parallax type and set the desired speed. 

6. Hit the 'select' button to trigger a shortcode

Put your actual content, i.e., image, video, or text, in the shortcode phrase 'Your Content Here.' 

7. Save your work

Finally, click on 'save.' 

You can now visit the page to see if everything is working right. 

Parallax WordPress themes

Adding a parallax effect may be a challenge, especially for beginners. Fortunately, WordPress developed several themes to embed the parallax effect on a website with the click of a button. These include:


This WordPress theme is highly functional, comprehensive, and stylish. You can use it for a studio, agency, blog, shop, or portfolio. Hypnos features include live chat support, SEO optimization, custom preloader, and WPML compatibility. 


Bazaar is an ideal theme for fashion and apparel websites. It creates stunning pages that showcase your products and content to get your prospects in the mood for shopping. 

The theme has excellent features, including smooth scroll, translation ready, SEO optimization, and a single-click demo content import. 


Azalea is a robust theme ideal for photography sites. It features a client carousel, five header styles, a CTA shortcode, a parallax shortcode, and pass-protected proofing galleries. The theme has premade homepage layouts, so it’s easy to set. 


This theme allows one to select between a single-page website and a multipage. It is ideal for big companies, agencies, and corporations. Boston features include a lightbox preview, unlimited portfolio works, and Twitter live feed. 


PlayerX is an exciting theme for studios, gamers, gaming, and eSports. It offers the dynamic and exciting user experience needed in these niches. Some of the features in PlayerX include integrated search, team carousel, WooCommerce compatibility, and seven icon font packs. 

Examples of parallax

Popular examples of parallax include:


This award-winning creative agency uses the parallax effect to create a powerful 3D effect on its website. Users can feel the effect as they scroll or click from page to page. 

Parallax scrolling features make the website subtly interactive, offering exciting user experiences. 

Stock Dutch 

This design studio's website uses parallax elements to draw the viewer's attention to the typography. When you scroll the page, each letter has a photo that moves as the images move. The website artistically highlights the brand’s previous projects. 

Implement smooth and effective parallax in your design

Parallax makes your website design engaging and attractive, providing a 3D effect to the page elements. It offers an enhanced user experience that could see visitors return to your website.

Failing to implement it properly could lead to confusion and directly affect the site's conversion rate. Website owners should focus on providing smooth parallax scrolling to their visitors.


Does parallax scrolling enhance website load time speed? 

Parallax scrolling can increase a website's load time if you add a lot of animation and visual elements. However, experienced professionals can add the parallax scrolling features and implement the effects in your website without causing load time-related issues. 

Is the parallax effect good for SEO? 

Whether parallax scrolling is good for SEO depends on your site's performance. SEO will automatically improve if you have an optimal user experience and offer a reason for visitors to stay on your site. But if parallax scrolling confuses your visitors and drives them away, your site will have a lower ranking. 

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