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I work for an agency that is very parallax happy. Clients seem to love it, so we keep pushing it.

My goal is to build solutions that end-users love, so I've been trying to push more user-centered practices here. It's been an uphill battle.

Does anyone have any information from real user studies or articles that speak about the usability of parallax scrolling? I've been unable to find anything of substance by searching.

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Clients love it...do users? Have you done any tests with users? Not formal usability studies, just some simple questions even. –  Ben Brocka May 18 '12 at 15:42
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That's my struggle. I'm pushing for more open dialog with users. We're still in the mind set of "do whatever makes the client happy" and "don't talk to the public until we're 100% ready". I plan to argue for more of a collaboration with users for our next project, but I was just looking for some good resources before our startup meeting. Thanks! –  Max May 18 '12 at 15:57
    
Your test users can sign NDAs, it's not necessary to involve "the public"...plus you can run usability studies on past projects (with client approval where necessary) or tests projects... –  Ben Brocka May 18 '12 at 16:03
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Agencies often don't do work for users. As you have found out, they often do 'cool' work for a) the person writing the checks and b) awards competitions. –  DA01 May 18 '12 at 16:18
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In what context is parallax scrolling being used? Do you mean some kind of web page where not all elements scroll to the same degree, creating a 3D effect? –  Jimmy Breck-McKye May 18 '12 at 23:47

3 Answers 3

See:

(a) Frederick D., Mohler J., Vorvoreanu M., Glotzbach R. (2015) The effects of parallax scrolling on user experience in web design, Journal of Usability Studies, 10 (2), 87-95: http://uxpajournal.org/the-effects-of-parallax-scrolling-on-user-experience-in-web-design/

Excerpt from article abstract:

Participants believed that the parallax scrolling website was more fun than the non-parallax scrolling website. The results of the study also showed parallax scrolling to be more effective when used in a hedonic and fun context. In spite of these benefits two of the participants suffered motion sickness and experienced significant usability issues while interacting with the parallax scrolling website. As a result, this potential risk to participants raises some ethical issues that UX practitioners and web designers should consider when planning to implement parallax scrolling.

(b) Parallax Scrolling: Attention Getter or Headache?: http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2014/11/parallax-scrolling-attention-getter-or-headache.php

Excerpts:

With few exceptions, parallax scrolling is just a flashy gimmick from a user experience perspective. Its primary usefulness is to show off how cools a designer is... The pro-parallax camp feels that the stunning visual nature of this effect improves the user experience. Parallax can guide and delight users. On the other hand, the anti-parallax camp feels that parallax scrolling stunts the effectiveness of Web sites... Although this article may seem to be a scathing denunciation of the usefulness of parallax scrolling, it’s not all bad news for parallax lovers. If you use parallax in moderation and stay within the bounds of these sophisticated optimization strategies, parallax scrolling actually has the potential to delight users, thus improving a Web site’s user experience.

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This (revised answer) is great. Nice references! –  tohster Apr 19 at 19:12
    
Great reference and good excerpts. –  Tbolt Apr 20 at 17:47

The only thing I'm aware of is related to the parallax user studies for interactive touch screens, try searching for "User Model for Predictive Calibration Control on Interactive Screens" but this is user studies related to mechanical touch screen studies. You might have better luck looking for 'Parallax Error' and 'User Viewpoint' if your goal is to disprove that it coincides with user-centered practices.

I'd personally say that the best thing is to create your own study and publish your findings. I think the parallax effect can add to the user interface's 3D depth, thus increase emotional response to using the interface: I think it can be good thing, depending on the audiences' bias, as long as it is keyboard accessible.

Of possible interest related to the topic: http://3.7designs.co/blog/2012/01/parallax-scrolling-effect-12-tutorials-an/

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Something not mentioned but very important is that parallax effects often break a users mental model of a page. If we look at an extreme example like this one from Sony, we can see some of the shortcomings very easily. No way to navigate, no awareness of state. Essentially it's not a web page, it's an ad(or "experience") that hijacks scrolling for another purpose.

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Thanks for a good addition to my "Design idiocy" collection... ;θ) –  Ivan Burmistrov Apr 21 at 19:30

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