The Truth about Parallax Designs

Don’t follow the Herd – Be a Web Design Lone Wolf

Parallax Themes or “Endless” pages are the “hot” new method of developing new websites, not because it is the best method, but in most cases because it is what everyone is doing.

Let’s take a moment to look at what the Native Americans discovered about the “herd mentality” while hunting buffalo. Now the buffalo were originally hunted with a bow and arrows or spears. Hunting buffalo with such primitive weapons was ineffective and dangerous. Then, the Native Americans discovered something very interesting about buffalo. They learned that when a herd of buffalo is panicked they put their head down and charge forward only paying attention to what it could see in its peripheral vision. It only responded to what all the other buffalo were doing. At no point in this process did the buffalo actually look up and see what was ahead.

So, the Native Americans adopted a new hunting method. They would surround the buffalo on horseback and slowly move the herd toward a cliff. They would then panic the herd and the herd would stampede. The stampeding herd, not looking where it was going would go straight over the cliff and there was a huge kill of multiple buffalo. (No actual buffalo were hurt in the relating of this old tale.)

That story illustrates a point about herd mentality and how that affects website design. A lot of business owners want the latest and greatest for their website. Whereas it depends on the website’s primary use. The question remains, does a parallax theme provide the best theme option available?

Before charging ahead with a Parallax Theme for that new website, let’s look up for a second and see what lies ahead.

Remember, it depends on the primary use of the website whether or not a single page format is right for a website. An example where it makes perfect sense is Facebook, which should immediately come to mind for all social media zealots. Newsfeeds are set up in a time sensitive format that allows users to keep up with what’s happening with their friends. With the added benefit of notifications regarding friends’ posts and comments. Whether one agrees with the latest changes or not, one would have to agree parallax is perfect for that format. Additionally, Facebook probably is not concerned with their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking.

Another example could be a situation where photographers or others that share an inordinate number of photos uses the WordPress Patti – Parallax Theme because of its capability of overlaying text on photos within the photo gallery feature. Developers and users report that it is SEO friendly, mobile ready, and is the optimal format for retina-ready screens. So, it too makes sense.

PROs and CONs

Certainly some developers or users will look at a pro and think of it as a con, or vice versa. What might be a pro for a user could be a con for a developer.

For example, something that requires more than a cursory knowledge of code, a developer would look at as an advantage to them, considering that it would take more time to fix and would mean more money for them, unless they didn’t consider it before giving a flat rate for a project, then it suddenly becomes a disadvantage.

An advantage of parallax might be that search and edit can all be completed on one document rather than searching through the entire server to find the right document to edit.

The parallax theme is scroll friendly and doesn’t require going to another page to view other data or information by the same owner.

Another advantage of a parallax theme only works if the theme allows multiple pages, so that it could be used as the home page and has the best of both worlds. The home page could contain links to other pages where additional keywords, Meta titles, Meta descriptions, and Uniform Resource Locator (URL) with keywords to boost SEO rankings are contained. Yet, this might result in duplicate content, which would bring down the site’s SEO ranking, unless the home page was blocked from SEO index crawling bots, which would require additional knowledge of jQuery and/or PHP. There is also another method of doing this by converting from Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) to PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP).

Disadvantages or cons are far more numerous for owners and admins concerned with SEO rankings because a single page format is hard to optimize for keywords and phrases. How difficult would it be to use the same keywords for everything aspect of your business?

Most parallax themes are not mobile user friendly. Starting 21 April 2015 this will become a big concern for all website owners as Google incorporates a mobile-friendly algorithm into its search engine rankings. Yet, it should concern website owners anyway, because parallax or single page formats are “heavy loaders,” meaning those take a lot longer to load, particularly on a mobile device and a lot more people are using mobile devices to conduct searches. Think about it, if a page doesn’t load right away, what is the natural alternative? Go to another site and that’s what people are going to do.

Check any page’s speed here:

Additionally, SEO ranking algorithms give weight to heading titles with keywords that are “above the fold,” this is very difficult to accomplish with a parallax theme. Only one H1 header is optimal for SEO and trying to cram two or three keywords into it does not seem natural, not to the user and not to the search engine indices.

It is difficult to measure user involvement with Google Analytics, which uses a JavaScript code to track and calculate user interaction. So, it is nearly impossible to determine what drew the reader to a single page or what on that page was of interest to the user, making it more difficult to gauge content for future use.

What could be the most frustrating issue of all for both developers and users is browser compatibility. What works fine on Chrome, may not work at all on Internet Explorer or other browsers and vice versa. Multiple tests must be run on each Web browser to ensure not only the ability to view it properly, but the compatibility of plugins and widgets. Imagine the frustration of a seller with no sales after converting to the format, only to get an enraged customer’s comments that he couldn’t get his credit card to work while it always worked on that site before.

In a multipage format keywords are more easily spread out over URLs, Meta Description Tags and Titles, as well as easier to focus on than that one page used for many blog topics or other entries.

There are good and bad attributes to every website theme, therefore it would be beneficial to weigh the consequences, as well as the advantages before charging head long into a decision.

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