25 Nov Form vs. Function: The Parallax Design Debate

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term, once you click through to a Parallax site, you know right away that something’s different. Parallax design is defined by the multiple design layers that each move at a different speed, giving a unique, almost 3D optical illusion. Unlike traditional web designs, which contain multiple pages, headers and sub-headers; true Parallax design consists of one page, which allows users to scroll continually through each “page” of information.

This technology allows for beautiful, image driven sites, since the background, or first “layer” is generally a large, high resolution picture that fills the screen. Parallax also gives designers more freedom with innovative graphics, like “fly-through’s” (a great example is seen here http://www.dementialab.org/discovery-lab/) and “fill in the blank” style text. Overall, these sites give designers the ability to work the actual functionality of the site into the graphics and design of the site, creating an uber-modern, cutting edge feel.

Why then, are many SEO and marketing professionals up in arms over this new design?  Though it may offer the chance for beautiful and impressive design, Parallax is an SEO nightmare. A true Parallax site is technically one page. This means only one H1 header, one URL and one set of meta tags. In more traditional web design – those with multiple pages – you have the chance for multiple H1 headers, URLs and sets of Meta tags. Essentially, with a traditional site, your visitors have multiple search engine “doors”, so to speak, to reach your site. With Parallax design, they only have one, and it’s one door that isn’t easily optimized.

So do you have to sacrifice form for function? Not really. If you have a small site that is meant for a smaller audience (ie a wedding website, musician’s website, even a portfolio website) Parallax is perfect for you. However, if you have a lot of information and you want your site to look great and have great SEO, you have the option of a Parallax home page.

An entire website doesn’t have to be Parallax to get the same aesthetic and unique functionality. Creating an innovative and attention grabbing home page, like the Dementia Lab’s homepage (above), then creating a more traditional interior site offers you a solution. You have the look and feel (and great first impression) of a Parallax site, couple with the functionality of quality SEO and easily accessed and navigated content. Truly the best of both worlds, as far as web design and optimization is concerned.

Image courtesy of TechRepublic.com

Sibet B Freides