You’ll hear the term ‘Parallax web design’ thrown around a lot when the discussion of site structure comes up. Named for the visual effect first developed in videogames, a parallax site plays with the movement speed of background and foreground images to create a level of depth you won’t find in traditional website design. Immediately, this type of page is more visually striking, and encourages a greater level of audience participation than most sites allow. The visitor is driving the information forward by scrolling, allowing the website to unfold as a sort of ‘storybook,’ with the added depth creating a pop-up effect.

Over the last few years, the popularity of parallax has exploded. As the current flavor of the month, thousands of websites have adopted parallax as the next great thing in site design without sitting down to consider whether this eye-catching style is right for their website.

First, let’s discuss the advantages of parallax design. Created as a linear scroll, parallax allows your site to tell a story. By delivering information in a sequence, you’ll make sure visitors see the content you want them to see, when you want them to see it. If your website contains plenty of information, this is a great way to streamline that content into something that is easily digestible. An increased focus on graphical fidelity means not only is a parallax site more easily understood, it’s usually more attractive, too. As mentioned, the style itself is graded by visitors as much more engaging and fun, and partnered with an easy level of accessibility, anyone can browse and navigate a parallax site with ease.

Even with all the great features of parallax, there are a few pretty significant drawbacks to this type of site. That simple, sleek scrolling mechanism comes at a cost. That’s because for search engine optimization purposes, parallax can seriously hinder the impact of your website on both local and national search rankings. As parallax will render several pages worth of information into one continuous scroll, only one set of meta data, one effective h1 tag, and one URL will populate search rankings. Parallax requires greater computing power, slowing the load times of your website. And lastly, this type of site is usually non-responsive, and often incompatible with mobile devices and other browsers.

Parallax is a valuable design tool for web developers. But for businesses trying to place themselves at the top of search engine rankings, the intuitive one-page scroll actually works as a bottleneck for SEO success. While parallax is effective for the well-known business or ubiquitous brand, it can actually work against smaller companies trying to make an impact and carve out a niche in a crowded search field.

The lesson here is to consider the objectives of your business before you adopt any new site design, and make sure your website works for you, not the other way around.