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User Perception of Parallax Web Design

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With its increased popularity in the last few years, many web designers and developers debate the UX (user experience) suitability of parallax scrolling and if parallax web design will be seen for years to come. Until a recent study conducted at Purdue University by Dede Frederick, there has been little quantitative research on the perceptual effects of parallax scrolling versus traditional web design in interface layouts. This begs the question: Do users have a clear preference and will one style take leadership in the future of web interactivity?

To get started with the basics, you can learn more about parallax web design using the quick overview in our support article.

With no user evidence on the subject, Frederick initiated his graduate study by designing two hotel websites alike in every aspect (from content and brand) with the only realistic difference being that one website featured parallax scrolling and the other did not. One by one Frederick engaged 86 “average users” on the Purdue campus to navigate either the standard website or the parallax website. Each participant took a few minutes to become familiar with the interface and was instructed to reserve a hotel room on their assigned website. Upon completion of the experiment, each user filled out a web form with their demographic information and completed a questionnaire documenting their user experience findings (concentrating in five areas: usability, enjoyment, fun, satisfaction and visual appeal).

From past research Frederick was convinced users would find the parallax website more engaging and preferred than a typical website. However after the survey results were finalized, Frederick found users determined the parallax website only superior in one area, fun. The four remaining questionnaire areas indicated no substantial change in overall user experience between the two websites.

With the potential of future studies to explore past general user experience, designers and developers can distinguish which style appeals to users. Like his fellow scholars Frederick believes parallax web design to be nothing more than a fad with a future as many people want to exceed their competitors and engage their users with a parallax scrolling experience, but are unfortunately using parallax scrolling in inappropriate contexts.

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