18 great parallax scrolling websites

Still a hot technique in web design, parallax scrolling can backfire if overused. Here's how to do it right.

Today's advanced web technologies make it possible to create remarkable effects in the browser. While these effects can be gimmicky, when employed in the right way they can result in a distinctive and memorable website.

One fairly recent web design trend is parallax scrolling, which involves the background moving at a slower rate to the foreground, creating a 3D effect as you scroll down the page. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but when used sparingly it can provide a nice, subtle element of depth. You'll find more advice in our pro tips for building parallax websites post.

But to show how it should be done, we've collected together sites that employ the technique to good effect. In some cases the parallax scrolling is the star of the show; in others it simply adds a touch of depth that makes the foreground seem to pop out a little. We hope you find this a useful source of inspiration for your next project, and if you come across any creative examples that we’ve not listed, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.

01. A-dam

A-dam uses parallax to showcase its stylish pants

A-dam designs original boxer briefs and shorts for men with character, using GOTS-certified organic cotton and hand-made by people with fair wages and normal working hours. They're an ethical and stylish alternative to your usual supermarket pants, and their site, created by Build in Amsterdam, showcases them nicely, with assorted parallax elements popping in from all directions as you scroll.

02. Myriad

Bareface's site for Myriad shows off the furniture system's infinite possibilities

Myriad is a range of modular office furniture by Boss Design that's designed to be flexible and reconfigurable, allowing you to build your own working spaces as you see fit. As part of its work on the launch, Bareface created a site showcasing Myriad's infinite possibilities with clever use of parallax elements, pulling in inspiring arrangements of furniture as you explore the site.

03. Firewatch

Each layer of trees moves independently

One of the most beautiful examples of parallax scrolling we’ve seen is this website for the game Firewatch, which uses six moving layers to create a sense of depth. It’s great because there’s no scroll hijacking (something that often accompanies the parallax effect), and it’s only used at the top of the page - the rest of the site is still so you can read the information without getting seasick. If you want to see how it’s done, here’s a nice demo on CodePen.

04. Garden Studio

Layering of the landscape makes it seem three dimensional

In a similar vein, Garden Studio have also opted to use the parallax technique in a sensible and delightful way at the top of their site, before moving into a mostly static page. The shifting landscape is subtle and unobtrusive yet also the star of the show - we found ourselves scrolling up and down again and again. 

05. GitHub 404

GitHub's 404 breaks the rules of parallax for a disorienting effect

This isn’t strictly parallax scrolling as the effect happens on mouse wiggle as opposed to scroll, but it’s a really fun page that uses layering to add depth. Unlike “proper” parallax, the background moves faster than the foreground, creating a disorienting, otherworldly feel. 

06. Jess & Russ

Every illustration has a sense of depth

Fancy scroll effects and illustration are the main attraction here, used to create a beautiful site that tells a story. Parallax scrolling is used throughout to add depth to the illustrations. 

07. Alquimia WRG

Example of parallax scrolling websites Alquimia

Alquimia WRG uses parallax elements to simulate a 3D space environment

Based in Milan, Alquimia WRG is a digital agency that aims to create amazing and effective experiences for brands on digital media. Clean and minimal, and only black and white, the website uses a mixture of the usual suspects (HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript) to achieve a neat package.

HTML5 canvas is used to animate the initial loading image. Subtle "parallax elements in the homepage are dynamically created and animated to simulate a 3D space environment through mouse movement," says Andrea Bianchi, creative director at Alquimia.

Page navigation is achieved via a simple and smooth page sliding effect, which is implemented by changing CSS properties with JavaScript. The works page contains a simple list of selected projects, which, when selected, reveals further information in a smooth sliding effect.

When such content is loading, a JavaScript animated preloading bar appears at the bottom of the screen, which is a nice touch.
The site achieves its goal, which, as Bianchi says, "was to create an ideal balance between content, usability and user experience".

08. Costa Coffee

Example of parallax scrolling websites Costa Coffee

The Graphite Design team chose an illustrative approach for more flexibility

This impressive one paper website, The Costa Experience, is the brainchild of Brighton-based agency Graphite Digital. Having worked previously with Costa Coffee, the team was recently tasked with better communicating its products.

The result was this visually rich, parallax website full of animated illustrations and interactive elements.

09. Make Your Money Matter

Example of parallax scrolling websites Make Your Money Matter

Manage your finances with information and advice from Make Your Money Matter

Finance and money are hardly the most interesting of subjects. But New York-based digital agency Firstborn are quids in with this dynamic parallax scrolling website Make Your Money Matter for the Public Service Credit Union.

With the aim of teaching the public the benefits of joining a credit union, rather than using a bank, this brilliant site includes everything from how a credit union works, where to find one and apply as well as a calculator showing just how much banks profit from customer's deposits.

10. Seattle Space Needle

Example of parallax scrolling websites Seattle Space Needle

Scrambled egg all over my face. What is a boy to do?

The site for Seattle's iconic Space Needle starts at the base of the 605-foot tower and invites you to scroll all the way up to the top, taking in views of Seattle and the SkyCity Restaurant along the way. And if 605 feet isn't quite high enough for you, keep on scrolling and see what you find!

11. Madwell

parallax scrolling Madwell

New York agency Madwell uses parallax scrolling to add a sense of depth

Design and development agency Madwell, based in New York, show off their portfolio with a range of parallax scrolling effects to create a noticeable 3D style that adds a huge amount of depth.

12. Peugeot Hybrid4

parallax scrolling Peugeot

Peugeot uses parallax scrolling to create an auto-playing web comic

Peugeot has gone all out with using parallax scrolling to create an auto-playing comic in the browser. The comic plays as you scroll down the page (or use their autoplay feature which automatically scrolls) and helps to advertise the car manufacturer's new HYbrid4 technology.

13. Cultural Solutions

Example of parallax scrolling websites Cultural Solutions

The circles move at different speeds for a subtle 3D effect

Arts consultancy Cultural Solutions employs a subtle parallax scrolling effect to introduce depth to its homepage. Their main brand image is the use of colourful circles - the circles in the background move slower than those in the foreground, creating a subtle 3D effect.

14. The Whitehouse’s Iraq Timeline

Example of parallax scrolling websites The White House

The White House uses parallax scrolling to heighten the emotion of its Iraq War timeline

To display the timeline of the war in Iraq, the White House used parallax scrolling to tastefully add something unique. While the content scrolls as normal, the emotional background images remain static – which help them to stand out further.

15. Walking Dead

Parallax scrolling websites Walking Dead

Walking Dead uses parallax scrolling to pull you into its gory world

We're big fans of TV zombie drama The Walking Dead at Creative Bloq, and we were gripped by this website launched to promote it. The imaginative site harks back to the show's comic strip origins and makes clever use of parallax scrolling to pull you into its sick and depraved world.

"We came at this as fans of the show, first and foremost," says lead designer Gavin Beck. "With this drive, we wanted to create a world within the Walking Dead that fans could explore and appreciate.

"To achieve this, we looked to several existing technologies and techniques such as HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript/jQuery, Web Audio/HTML5 Audio, and parallax scrolling. The challenge was to find a unique approach to incorporate all these methods into a single engaging experience across all platforms."

16. New York Times: Tomato Can Blues

Examples of parallax scrolling websites New York Times

A beautiful experience is to be had with this parallax scrolling New York Times article

In today's era of low attention spans and bite-size media, how do you attract people to longform journalism? Here's a great response to that problem from the New York Times, combining some clever web design techniques with storytelling and comic-inspired illustrations created by Atilla Futaki.

One of the best examples of parallax scrolling we've seen lately, the article takes you through the story of a cage fighter written by Mary Pilon. As you scroll through the content, the illustrations come alive with clever animations and alterations, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the content.

Futaki's illustrations were based on police records, witness accounts, photographs and the reporter's notes, and the attention to detail shines through. All in all it's a great reading experience - is this the future of online journalism?

17. Snow Fall

Example of parallax scrolling websites Snow Fall

The New York Times' 'Snow Fall' article kickstarted a whole new craze for rich parallax sites

Snowfall is the latest buzzword to hit the world of design, drawing on the best traditions of editorial layout and combining them with the exciting possibilities offered by multimedia, including parallax scrolling and web video.

The term is named after The New York Times 'Snow Fall' article, about the horror of an avalance at Tunnel Creek, which was published online in December 2012. The newspaper presented the Pulitzer-winning article in an innovative way that grabbed the design community's attention worldwide.

18. The Reykjavik Confessions

Example of parallax scrolling websites The Reykjavik Confessions

Here's the BBC News take on a Snowfall-style story

Here's another page using the Snowfall technique. Written by Simon Cox, The Reykjavik Confessions explores the mystery of why six people admitted roles in two murders when they couldn't remember anything about the crimes. The presentation makes great use of white space and makes a large amount of text, which might seem intimidating in a more traditional web news context, a pleasure to navigate.

Contributions: Creative Bloq staff

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