Page Laubheimer at Newfangled (another RI tech success story!) has some pretty strong fighting words that may anger the design community: Parallax is the New Flash.
Here’s the thing: it’s very much in vogue right now. It’s also a very visible design trend, one that’s as immediately recognizable as it is noticeable. Which means that the single easiest way to make your site look dated in the next 18 months is to design it around the parallax trend.
Page details a few of the problems with parallax that you may be familiar with. There are SEO implications and often navigation issues. He rightly points out that these sites are so obviously focused on mobile it seems like they were never QAed on a desktop browser have jumpy scrolling or break the users control of the mouse.
Mostly they don’t pass my most basic sniff-test for building a website: are you focused on what your users need or what you (or your marketing department, or your boss) thinks is cool?
Parallax websites are a newer, hipper, more designy version of those flash-based “page flipper” interfaces that allow me to upload a PDF and have you flip through it like a magazine. It’s a novelty that appeals to the website owner far more than the website user.