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How mouse parallax effects engage and delight site visitors

This essential guide to mouse parallax includes best practices, live examples from the web and a peek into the no-code effect on Wix Studio.

Illustration by Linoy Shalem.

Profile picture of Aaron Gelbman


7 min read

For web creators looking to add character, dimension or sophistication to a website, the mouse parallax effect delivers all three. And now that some web platforms, like Wix Studio, offer mouse parallax without the need to write any code, it’s a good idea to become better acquainted with it in order to maximize its full creative potential.

In this article, we cover the fundamentals of mouse parallax web effect: first with a basic overview and brief history, and then with guidance on implementation. You’ll even hear directly from Wix’s WOW Team—the visual innovation team that created Wix Studio’s mouse-parallax feature—on how they use the effect in their designs.

What is mouse parallax?

Mouse parallax is a visual effect in which elements on a web page move as your cursor moves. This adds depth, dynamism and a three-dimensional feel to your site when viewed on a two-dimensional screen. 

Parallax sounds familiar, right? That’s because mouse parallax and scroll-based parallax are both popular website animations. The major difference between the two has to do with what triggers the movement:

  • Mouse parallax responds to cursor movement, creating an immediate and direct interaction.

  • Scroll-based parallax is triggered by scrolling and uses a predetermined speed to reveal content and tell a story. 

Here's how the mouse parallax effect typically works

  1. Base layer: The base layer remains stationary and serves as the reference point for the visitor's eyes. 

  2. Front layers: One or more layers of elements (e.g., images, text, or other UI elements like decorative icons or shapes) are positioned on top of the base layer.

  3. Mouse movement detection: JavaScript in the site detects the movement of the user's mouse cursor on the page or screen.

  4. Parallax calculation: Based on the mouse cursor position, the script calculates the offset or movement values for each foreground layer. This calculation is used to show a parallax effect when the mouse moves.

History of mouse parallax

The history of mouse parallax is intertwined with the broader evolution of web technologies toward more dynamic and interactive user experiences. Let’s go back in time a bit.


Remember the first websites you visited? Sites then were largely static, consisting of text and images with minimal interaction beyond hyperlink navigation.

Then came CSS and JavaScript, and web designers could finally create more entertaining and engaging experiences. At that time, complex visual effects, like parallax, still required custom code. Even so, these languages led the way to more dynamic and visually compelling websites without compromising site performance.

Early 2000s

Parallax scrolling, which was already in use for decades in the entertainment and gaming industries, emerged on the web. Taking inspiration from games like Super Mario and animated films, designers started using scrollbar movement to trigger subtle changes within their site designs. At this point, 2D web designs on every PC now had depth. Somewhere along the way, mouse parallax was born. 

Animated GIF of Mario running through the video game, with the background images of the sky, hills and clouds moving at slower speeds.
Parallax scrolling in Nintendo's Super Mario, evidenced by the different speeds of background and foreground layers. Image courtesy of Alan Zucconi. (

2010s - today

As web standards and capabilities evolved, new web platforms emerged that democratized and spread web creation. Even designers without coding knowledge could now implement complex visual effects. And today, web platforms like Wix Studio also make it even easier to add mouse parallax without needing to write a single line of code. 


Learn more about Wix Studio’s design features.

Of course, the rise of mouse-free, touch-screen devices—like smartphones and tablets— limits how many users can experience this effect. This is why it’s important to follow best practices when designing with mouse parallax in mind.

Best practices for using mouse parallax effect

Mouse parallax is versatile. It can be applied to small details or have a dominant presence on a page. But not all users or devices can handle the effect. These best practices will help you determine how to best use mouse parallax on your site. 

Add effects with purpose

The mouse effects on your site could range from being on full blast, small and subtle, or somewhere in between. Whichever effect you choose should align with the goal of your site. 

For example, quiet and elegant effects would suit a law firm’s website, while bold and dominating effects would suit an art gallery’s website. “When working for a client,” advises Ziv Moshe, visual designer on Wix’s WOW Team, “you can make the user’s first landing on the page calm and playful by using the effect in the header, and then more of it in pauses between folds.” Just ensure that any effects fit with your client’s brand language and are discussed upfront so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Plan your mouse effects from the beginning of your design flow

It’s a common misconception that website effects and animations aren’t relevant until the site design is finished and it’s time to build. As a result, the elements on your web page may feel forced together rather than conceived together. With this in mind, “mouse parallax needs to serve the narrative of the website,” recommends Avital Santo, head of design at Wix’s WOW Team. “You need to know your audience—how much and for how long you can engage them—and decide accordingly which effects you will add.”

Don’t let effects cause UX friction

Minimizing friction is one of the core web design principles. Ensure that the mouse parallax effect does not hinder navigation, readability or the user journey. Keep in mind that using the effect “changes the website layout,” says Moshe, “and make sure there is enough white space around [the elements] for the animation. Use it practically and don’t distract the user.” The effect should enhance the content and functionality of your website, not overshadow it.

Make sure your site accommodates users with reduced motion settings

Some users have limitations, such as motion sickness, and might find websites with mouse parallax effects challenging or disorienting. Offer them the option to disable or adjust the intensity of the effects. Other users might exclusively navigate sites with a keyboard, instead of a mouse, so be sure that your web design works for them too. 

Adi Huri, creative director and product manager on Wix’s WOW Team, explains, “We work closely with the accessibility team when we are creating new features for Wix Studio. We developed [the mouse parallax feature] in such a way that people with disabilities can experience the content without the effects.”

Anticipate touch-screen devices without cursors

Since mouse parallax relies on cursor movement, consider an alternate approach for touch devices. “Because mouse parallax creates a fun, engaging and interactive experience, for mobile, I’d create a similar experience—like with loop animations,” says Moshe. When recreating this on Wix Studio, Moshe recommends “to place the element in a container in order to apply several animations to the same element—but not too many which could lead to bad performance on the browser.”

In some cases touch-screen devices are not completely off-limits; users who connect an external mouse will still enjoy the mouse parallax experience.

Mouse parallax effect case study: Mouse Parallax Goes to Wonderland 

To better understand how to introduce mouse parallax effects into your work, we spoke with the creators of Mouse Parallax Goes to Wonderland from Wix’s WOW Team.

Why did you decide to use a mouse parallax in the first place?

Adi Huri, creative director and product manager, WOW Team: Our ultimate goal was to improve user engagement and help visitors consume the content more easily. Before choosing mouse parallax, we explored the web, looking at various trends and taking them down to their essence to understand technical feasibility. It turned out that mouse parallax is very useful both from the user's point of view (easy to interact with) and from the tech's perspective (easy to add animations and effects).

Why Alice in Wonderland? How does it benefit the story?

Adi Huri: The goal was to show the magic of the feature with something that makes it pop. We decided to use mouse parallax because it adds an illusion of depth and layers. When an effect is introduced properly it supports the narrative of the product. 

Ziv Moshe, visual designer, WOW Team: Each section describes a different part of Alice’s story and leads the visitor to the following sections. We used the preset mouse effects to pull the visitor to interact with the site and to move through the story, as if unveiling the Alice mystery. And all this time the website is dynamic—the assets fly, spin and move following the user's mouse.

What is your process of finding a balance between usability and accessibility?  

Adi Huri: It's essential to think about accessibility right from the start and work closely with the accessibility team when designing a product. Doing that will maximize the chances of creating a product everyone can use. When it comes to mouse parallax, visitors should have an option to minimize motion effects, and with reduced motion, mouse parallax won't appear on their screens.

Why is it important to have mouse parallax as a code-free feature?

Adi Huri: Having mouse parallax as a code-free feature is much more than just saving development time. It gives the joy of creation to anyone, no matter whether they have coding skills or not. When the process of creating a parallax effect is so smooth that it's barely noticeable, creators start to focus on the actual design solution rather than on technical details.

Avital Santo, head of design, WOW Team: What I love most about mouse parallax on Wix Studio as a website designer is that it’s so easy to implement. And the site visitor gets playfulness and interactivity. It’s instant gratification from the site. Unlike other effects that need more planning and a better understanding of layout and motion, adding mouse effects requires nothing more than your creativity.

How far can you push a code-free feature?

Ziv Moshe: In more complex cases, we used two effects on the same element. For example, the Cheshire cat's eyes are separate PNGs that follow the mouse (using a “track” preset) while the cat's head is a group using the “airy” preset. 

Recreate this experience on Wix Studio—sign up for an account today.

How to create a mouse parallax effect on Wix Studio 

Wix Studio offers a wide range of code-free animations and effects, and is unique in that no custom CSS or JavaScript is required. 

To add a mouse parallax effect in Wix Studio:

  1. Select a specific object on the canvas.

  2. Navigate to the Animations and Effects tab in the right sidebar.

  3. Click Mouse Effects, where you can choose from various mouse effects, such as tracking, tilting, obscuring, resizing and more. 

  4. Select an effect, and Wix Studio immediately adds it to the element so you can preview it in real time.

  5. If desired, click Adjust Animation to adjust the controls and customize the effect properties, such as velocity and perspective.

An image of the mouse parallax effect control panels inside the Wix Studio editor.
Wix Studio's Inspector Panel provides all the controls to create a no-code mouse parallax effect.

As a reminder, Wix Studio automatically disables mouse parallax on mobile. In other words, since mouse effects require a mouse cursor, they will not play on touchscreen devices. 

Try adding mouse parallax effects to your Wix Studio website with this tutorial. It'll guide you through the entire process step by step in an easy-to-follow way.




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