Should I Pitch A Parallax Scrolling Website To My Client?

By Zack Rutherford


Mar 24, 2015


If you’re anything like me, you loathe the negotiation process before a project. Doesn’t it seem like there should be a way to circumvent the part where you convince the client, and just get paid to be creative? Well, life’s not all sunshine and roses, sweetheart, and if you wanna make it, you’d better learn to hustle.


Thus it may be incumbent upon you, being the honest designer that you are, to find an interesting, endearing, and pervasively popular design trend to pitch your clients. One that you can pridefully claim will increase conversions, make the website look more professional, and add value to your client’s brand.


That’s right, you owe it to your clients to design a website with as much pizazz, panache, and penultimate mojo as you possibly can, and that can occasionally mean pitching parallax scrolling as an attractive added feature to their online presence.


Parallax projects are very popular for a wide variety of brands right now. They offer opportunities to highlight your skills in a flashy and obvious way. And if you make it equally impressive in the realms of aesthetics and usability, you’ll increase your chances to win a multitude of awards.


The major takeaway here is pitching parallax scrolling is a win-win situation. Your clients get a visually stunning, powerfully functional, and ultimately usable website design; while you get increased exposure, a higher paycheck, and another impressive addition to your portfolio. The only thing holding up the aforementioned gravy train is that pesky question of whether or not your clients actually need a super cool, hyper stylized, oily slick website with parallax functionality implemented.


This is actually the biggest question you have to consider in any design project. And before I get carried away with visions of Ben Franklin’s dancing over my head, it’s probably best to mention that everything else is subsidiary to this concern.


So what do your clients need?



Cash Courtesy Of Clientele Inclination.


Cash Courtesy Of Clientele Inclination.


The same thing you do, of course. They want to grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. In other words, they’re looking for a positive return on their investment. “What investment is that?” you may ask.


The one they’re making in procuring your expert services, obviously.


Your value is directly proportional to the money your designs earn the clients. That means your designs have to engage website visitors, procure clicks, incite social mentions, and accrue conversions. Solid web design principals will go a long way towards these goals, emphasizing the most important content at the top of your page, for instance. The lead-in here is emphasis.


It’s obvious that the top of the webpage is where users make their initial judgments on your site, so why not do everything you can to make this section pop? Parallax elements are an excellent way to highlight your most important bits of content. In many cases, this means highlighting products or services. Utilizing parallax scrolling, you can do this in a few different ways.



Parallax Scrolling And Product Presentation.


First and foremost, parallax functionality can be used to magnify and elevate the appearance of your client’s products. This can be accomplished through any number of methods. You can add depth to your products, making them appear three dimensional. It can also be used to focus on the most relevant features of a product. Finally, the aesthetically pleasing sense of movement portrays products in the best possible light, allowing for detailed examinations and cursory overviews alike.


When pitching parallax to your client, be sure they understand that you can create a website that powerfully emphasizes both product features, and direct benefits that the products have for consumers.



Inciting Interaction.


It’s one thing to put on a picturesque show for users, it’s quite another to get them to engage with your content. Fortunately, interactivity is a unique specialty for parallax sites.


In reference to parallax scrolling, storytelling becomes the main method of engagement. Just as an expert novelist maps out his protagonists journey from exposition, to climax, and conclusion; you can prescribe the bits of content your users see along their way through your site. You also determine which elements are clickable, and how clicking will affect them. In essence, you determine each point on your user’s storyline, and can write out their story ahead of time, to an extent.


For example, the website describing the making of the movie, Life of Pi, does an excellent job of implementing scroll activated animations, while cleverly interspersing clickable video elements that illustrate interesting aspects of the movie’s production.


Inciting Interaction.


A great deal of the site’s content isn’t clickable, but the fact that the designers make the option available early keeps users on their toes as they scroll through the site. I encourage you to check the site out, it’s beautifully done, and more than a little clever.


By creating a step by step journey through your website, facilitated by parallax scrolling, you allow users to move at their own pace, interacting with each piece of content at every stopping point.


The multilayered alterable animations, which are dependent upon scrolling speed, create a sense of movement and temporal flow. Users get caught up in the plot of your website’s story simply by moving along your predetermined path.


Speaking of a path…



Direct User Flows.


Parallax scrolling allows you to quickly and easily direct the flow of user attention. Because you design the site to be leisurely strolled through (or scrolled through, as the case may be), navigation is obvious and it’s difficult for users to skip any steps. The path they take during their navigation of your site, is under your complete control as soon as they arrive. All you have to do is keep enough fresh and relatable content coming along the way so that they don’t lose interest.


As long as you have animated elements moving at different speeds and visible at different depths, this should be quite easy from a visual standpoint. The real trick is having something interesting on more than a superficial level embedded along with your images, but the site’s content is more the client’s business than yours. So you’re off the hook on that one.


You’ve just got to make sure the path is pleasant enough for their content to work. And of course, you need to be sure that the user’s journey ends at a definitive destination.



Destination: CTA.


You know that saying about the destination not mattering, and that the journey is what’s important? Yeah, that’s not likely to be what your client’s sales department would to say on the subject. The bottom of the sales funnel is their main concern, and that means moving your website visitors towards a call to action.


Parallax scrolling has the unique ability to direct user flow, and drive user engagement throughout the path toward this final destination. Once there, the journey will hopefully have been enough to push them through this last barrier. The opportunity, however, is only there if you design a website with a CTA in mind as the final destination.


After the features and benefits always comes the hard sell. With effectively implemented parallax scrolling, you can be assured that most users will have fun on their way to your CTA. In turn, your client can expect excellent clickthroughs, and sky high conversion rates.



Clients Come First.


All of this is well and good, but you should always consider how to best serve your client. Creating a website with advanced parallax functionality can be a lot of fun, and make you plenty of scratch, but make sure it’s a desire to better service your client, and not a greedy heart that’s driving you to implement parallax scrolling.


Still, you’ve got all the ammunition required to convince a client that parallax scrolling can be of great benefit to their website design. And to be honest, it really can be a good fit for many products and services.


The only real X factor is the way you pitch it.



How To Pitch Parallax Scrolling To Your Clients.


The first thing to do is get over any fear you have about negotiating with a client. This is a purely psychological hang-up, and you’ve got to push through it. Remember that your clients hired you in the first place because they believed in your abilities. Once you’ve got their confidence, you can ride that momentum by providing excellent service repetitively.


Asking is not imposing, and the worst thing that can happen is they say no. You need the extra work, and they’ll need someone to design a website for them again eventually—even if they don’t know it yet. So why not you? Why not now? And why don’t you make it worth both your whiles with an advanced design technique like parallax scrolling?


The second thing to do is align your pitch with your client’s wants, needs, and goals. I’ve talked at length about this already, but you need to find specific applications that are unique to your clients. Do they have a big budget, an eye for aesthetics, and a need for a fancy new landing page? Make your move, noting the distinctive applications of parallax in relation to E-commerce (directing user attention, highlighting product features/benefits, and funneling users toward CTAs).


Of course, if you don’t already know what your client’s biggest concerns for a project are, it’s probably a pretty damn good idea to ask about it. Conversation and collaboration are close cousins, make sure you don’t favor one and not the other. Understanding your clientele’s specific desires for the direction of a project is absolutely essential to any attempt at upselling.


Just as important though, is your need to recognize when not to upsell. For example, if your client doesn’t have a big budget, or if they wanted to create a responsive website. Parallax scrolling is notoriously difficult to design responsively. So if mobile sites are the client’s modus operandi, then you may want to skip the shtick.


And this last point brings us to another important question:



Do Users Really Prefer Parallax Designs?


So apparently the only bit of hard research on this question was performed by a Purdue University graduate named Dede M. Frederick. Frederick conducted an A/B test and had 86 different participants engage with one of two versions of the same website. One with parallax scrolling enabled, and the other without. You can download his research here.


The results were a little bit disheartening for parallax proponents. The two sites showed very little in the way of statistical difference in most UX categories. The parallax site did, however, score higher in the “fun” category, proving a slight statistical preference for parallax scrolling interfaces because they’re more enjoyable. The parallax site was also considered more professional, according to participants who were interviewed in the study.


While the findings were certainly intriguing, and hopefully a sign of more research to come, the results were by no means conclusive or comprehensive. 86 people is a relatively small sample size, and plenty of questions remain about the specific methods of parallax implementation. It’s my view at least, that you can’t reasonably draw an inerrant conclusion from this single test.


Unfortunately, much of what we’ve got to go on other than this singular study, is anecdotal evidence: the bane of any statistician’s existence. So truthfully, the jury is still out. There’s a metric ton of industry buzz about parallax scrolling, but the trend has its fair share of detractors as well. I’m personally cautiously optimistic towards parallax scrolling’s future. It’s a beautiful website design technique, and I think it’s leading us towards a prettier, and more engaging web overall.


Either way, it’s still a highly sought after function at the moment, and you may not even have to suggest it to your clients. They may straight out ask you for it. But if they don’t, you can always grab the initiative and speak to your client about giving it a go. Appeal to their needs, and align their purpose with your implementation, and parallax scrolling’s unique applications.


Make a convincing case, and they’ll have a hard time saying no.


Ever tried to pitch parallax scrolling to your clients? Tell me how the conversation went down in the comment section.

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