We've all seen and loved, and maybe even created, our own long-scroll homepage at one point in time. You know that style I'm talking about - the one with slick parallax scrolling, humble-brag headlines, and the animated numbers that reflect how many cups of coffee we've consumed. It's a hot format and one that audiences eat up.
The style, conceptually, can make sense for a NationBuilder theme. It tells a story in engaging fashion with a single motion. You can also apply different points of action throughout the various content blocks. There is a lot of real estate to work off of and doesn't require any complicated user navigation.
That being said, long-scroll formats can certainly come with pitfalls. Ones that are heavy on animation can often create a clunky navigation experience. I don't know about you but to me, there is nothing more frustrating when "scroll-jacking" and slow load times trump an otherwise beautiful design. There are also versions reflecting a story with no closure, like a distracted comedian trying to get his punchline across:
So are long-scroll themes a good or bad idea on NationBuilder? Well, although seemingly a safe answer, it absolutely depends. There are instances where this type of style makes sense if executed well. There are other projects where designing long-scroll architecture is the equivalent of stuffing luggage into a mailbox.
If you're bullish on the long-scroll, there are some important aspects to consider before you start building. One notion is that you run the risk of an impatient visitor wanting the elevator pitch before taking action. If the headline in the first fold doesn't make a target user scroll or hit a button: bad news. It's critical that you design for the quick sell regardless of the format.
Another point of designing information architecture in this format is to keep content minimal. A long-scroll theme purposely spreads out content into digestible tidbits, so there is no reason to squeeze paragraph blocks or multiple images into claustrophobic spaces. Keep the message brief and the action clear.
Lastly, maintain the intuitive. The scroll itself should be one, long sweep that isn't hijacked by micro elements applying a conflicting scroll pattern. For example, if one of your content blocks contains a Google map integration, keep the zoom option of it static. This ensures that an errant finger swipe or mouse scroll doesn't result in a 200% zoom of a map when the viewer simply wanted to progress in the homepage story. Same rule applies to galleries that scroll horizontally on the same page where the parent scroll format is vertical.
If you want to discuss your long-scroll architecture or share your gorgeous creation, feel free to send me a line at email@example.com or chirp @briantippy on Twitter.