What’s a parallax WordPress theme? It’s a theme that incorporates the functionality and style of an animation technique, where the traditional on-screen scrolling effect is made more dynamic.
In short, parallax scrolling is when the background images move a little slower than the foreground components, creating an illusion of depth. The scrolling technique is generally implemented on premium themes, but I’ve scoured the internet to deliver some great free options. Yes, they do exist! But first, some context.
Why Would You Want Parallax Scrolling?
There’s a lot of criticism of parallax scrolling in the design community. And often, for good reason. When implemented badly, it can slow down your site considerably. It can cause page elements to load strangely. It can wreck your site’s UI. But when done well, parallax adds depth of field and added visual interest. It makes your site appear more dynamic and interactive—two things that have shown to increase on-site time, which can improve your conversion rate.
What Else Do These Themes Offer?
Beyond the parallax features, all of the themes included on this list are responsive and include other standard attributes we’ve come to expect from the top themes. These features include things like contact forms, customization options, SEO optimization, translation-readiness, and eCommerce integration.
Best Parallax Themes to Add Interest to Your Website
Hestia Pro takes parallax scrolling and makes it work flawlessly. Never slowing down your website’s loading speed, never affecting the user interface, and always displaying your one page website smoothly, this parallax WordPress theme is just what you need to leave a lasting impression on site visitors. Implementing this animation effect into your material design, one page website, Hestia Pro increases conversion rates, boosts user engagement of your content, and drives more traffic to your site on the daily.
In addition, Hestia Pro offers responsive design, drag & drop page building capability, and even WooCommerce integration for building a stellar online shop to complement your content. Translate your content to cater to other nations, watch your SERPs rank high thanks to built-in SEO optimization, and best of all know that your website is unique when compared to all others thanks to the Live Theme Customizer ease of use.
The Allegiant theme is a great parallax theme for any small business or creative agency that wants to use parallax effect to highlight sections of their website and attract the attention of potential clients. Use the slider to share a brief description of your company and the parallax section is a great place to share a brief description of your services or include a call to action. You can also share testimonials from past clients, feature your past projects, and share information about everyone working on your team.
A blog page is also included as well as several other page templates to share more details about each of your projects and your services. You can also integrate the theme with WooCommerce and sell both digital and physical products straight from your website. Along with plenty of shortcodes, responsive design, and customization options, the Allegiant theme has all the tools necessary for a small business website so be sure to keep it in mind.
Parallax One is a theme from the folks at ThemeIsle and it’s one of the best free business WordPress themes with a parallax effect included. The one-page layout is perfect for creative individuals and the clean and validated code ensures that it works well with plugins and loads properly when people are searching for your site. The localization tools assist in translating your site to any other language. The theme options panel works well for beginners and advanced users alike since you can modify settings for your logo, social links, colors, and more.
The Parallax One theme has a responsive design which helps users who are viewing the site on mobile devices like phones and tablets. The primary parallax effect adds extra visual appeal and puts it on par with many premium themes. Parallax One has unlimited color options to incorporate your own branding and you can keep your visitors updated with upcoming events by using the built-in events management system. Share testimonials from past customers and include a map on the homepage so customers can find your local stores within seconds.
The Ember theme is beautiful and responsive, and best of all it’s completely free. In fact, even if you wanted to upgrade to the premium Ember version, it would only cost you around $39. That’s quite the steal and you get plenty of features to go along with the investment. However, the free version of the theme is quite impressive, considering it’s completely optimized for viewing on mobile devices. That means that your entire homepage, as well as your blog posts, will look good even when your visitors are using a mobile phone or tablet which have smaller screens than the desktop computers.
The Ember theme is truly a modern theme since its sheer beauty gives your company a sense of style, while also keeping your content organized and professional. Although some of the features are limited to the premium version, the free version allows you to set up a one-page WordPress website with several modules that are setup as content rows. You can easily create a parallax header with a call to action. Adding testimonials with featured images of your past clients takes a few clicks of a button and the added bonus is the section to feature your team members. You can also include a section with your social media icons. Many free themes require you to have third party plugins for items like contact forms and recent post widgets but thanks to the Ember theme, you can have this functionality right from the start.
Simpleshift is beautiful and responsive, designed specifically to help companies and individuals who are looking to save money without skimping on quality. Even though the theme offers an upgrade to a premium version with more features, the free version is quite impressive. Simpleshift looks beautiful on smaller screens thanks to its responsive nature. The theme also has parallax backgrounds which are great places to include items like call-to-action buttons and testimonials. The parallax backgrounds don’t slow down the site either since it’s a simple animation effect that is known to boost conversions. Aside from calls to action, you can also use the parallax sections to display testimonials, portfolio or your team members.
The contact form can easily be customized with different fields that best suit your needs while the recent posts module is great to encourage visitors to read your blog. This is a great way to increase your search engine rankings as well as establish yourself as the authority in your niche and share your knowledge with potential customers. Along with social media buttons, a beautiful header area, and some awesome tools for configuring your menu, the Simpleshift WordPress theme is one of our top choices for responsive, parallax themes.
The Simple theme has everything you need to create a remarkable online presence: it’s gorgeous, responsive, and best of all, it is completely free meaning you don’t have to pay a dime unless you plan on implementing some premium plugins. But that’s what’s so great about the Simple theme; it’s built as a premium theme so you generally don’t need to go crazy with the plugins. This keeps your site lighter and faster and you don’t have to have any coding knowledge to make a professional and beautiful website. The header area is usually the first thing your visitors notice and the Simple theme really shines here. It includes an area to add your own high-resolution photo that features your company or your product. You can add an overlay text to briefly describe your company or include a button to serve as a call to action which leads your visitors to your sales page.
The options panel is packed with awesome features such as shortcodes and fonts. These tools are often found in premium themes but are included with the Simple theme for free and they help you add buttons, change your fonts, add columns, and more.The theme also includes a two-column blog layout to share industry tips with your audience and increase your search engine rankings. The front-page has several sections which include various modules to include all the important information on your homepage. You can add details about your company, social media buttons, and contact forms. You can also highlight people from your team and link to their social media accounts. The Simple theme has the simplicity you’re looking for, and it’s free, so check it out!
Venture theme from Nimbus is a beautiful and fully responsive one-page theme that’s perfect for creative professionals, agencies, freelancers, or basically any other business. The theme has been carefully and thoughtfully designed by the entire team at Nimbus Themes so you know that you’re getting the very best from the best. Out of the box, the theme has a parallax banner and sub-page header that overlays a beautiful background image and with a purchase of the Pro version, you gain access to an unlimited ability to modify the background colors and images on your content rows including the addition of a parallax effect.
Venture is the latest theme from this team so you can be assured that your website is on the cutting edge of design and technology. Be sure to view the demo to get a full understanding of the theme’s features.
The Amadeus theme has both a beautiful design and awesome functionality. The theme includes several parallax backgrounds and a parallax header which are sure to create a great first impression on anyone who visits your website. The theme has an elegant and clean design suitable for various niches. The theme includes several social media icons which you can include right at the top of your homepage. Add a logo beneath to build brand recognition and add a short description of your company right below it. Several other parallax sections are included throughout the homepage which provide a nice visual effect without slowing down your website. The responsive design works well on just about every device, while the localization tools help you translate your website into any other language that might be relevant for your theme audience.
The navigation menus have sleek drop downs which allow you to add all your pages without overwhelming your visitors. The theme also allows you to embed videos from sites like Youtube or Vimeo to provide a variety of content. The homepage also has a section to feature your blog posts with featured images, previews, and titles. The blog post formats allow you to add some variety to your blog. Plenty of white space ensures your content gets the attention it deserves and it allows for adding various widgets without making the page appear cluttered. The Amadeus theme supports lots of widgets so you can add widgets for recent comments, posts, About Me information, search bars, embedded videos, and tags. Overall, if you’d like a unique take on the standard blogging theme, the Amadeus WordPress theme is certainly one to keep your eye on.
The EvoLve theme is a responsive theme with a sleek Parallax slider for showcasing your favorite images. The theme comes with various different slider and animation effects to modify the way your captions and images show up on the screen.
EvoLve even comes with a post slider for displaying up to 10 posts for every category on your website. You have the option to have the slider automatically scroll through images or you can require visitors to click on arrows to browse at their own leisure.
Zerif Lite has climbed to the top of the WordPress Free Theme Directory list over the last few months and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times for many good reasons. It’s a beautiful theme that’s been carefully coded to preserve the super modern one-page design. If there’s only one free theme you should check out in 2015, Zerif Lite is it.
The Accesspress Parallax theme is one of the most respected Parallax options in the WordPress themes library. Use the theme to create an interactive and engaging environment through animations and movements. You can incorporate 3D effects for added fun, and the built-in calls-to-action and CSS animations are ideal for the ultimate customization.
Parallax is a simple Parallax WordPress theme with a responsive design and simple drag-and-drop editing options for building your website without any coding knowledge.
The theme includes forms, quick sliders, social integration, and stylish modules where you can display information about your company’s services, team members, testimonials, and more right on the homepage.
The Alizee theme includes a Parallax header, of course, and the menus can easily be toggled to provide a clean navigation. The custom widgets and quick layout changes make it easy for anyone to customize and build a site that suits their unique brand.
You’ll notice that the Alizee theme is designed to look like Pinterest, so you get similar layouts and movements.
The Moesia theme adds an additional element to the Parallax header and sliding features by turning it into a widescreen layout. Add a huge image to show people what your business is all about and rest assured your website will look good on any device.
The theme is translation-ready so you can easily translate the website and the custom widgets provide an extra way to add content to your website. You’ll also notice that the header is customizable so you can change the width if the full-width layout isn’t for you.
As a Parallax theme, Advertica Lite stands out because of its simplicity. It’s nice because the responsive theme can be used for just about any industry. Try it for your business or build your own personal portfolio and use the customization options to make it truly unique.
The theme also comes with a sleek landing page to push new visitors toward your sales pages.
The Foodeez Lite theme is designed for businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops, and it incorporates the standard Parallax sliding features along with floating navigation bars which make the navigation menu easily accessible.
Showcase your menus, events, and other details for the ideal food selling atmosphere. The theme also provides a reservation form so your visitors can make the reservations straight from your website.
The Invert Lite Parallax theme comes with three custom page templates, and you can upload your logo within seconds. The social link setup is fairly easy, and you can always input a custom favicon to further brand your business.
Unlike many other free themes, the Invert Lite option is fully optimized for SEO.
Another nice Parallax theme is called Bootstrap Parallax and it has a nice responsive design with parallax functionality throughout. The theme also incorporates various options for customization and the full-width page template is ideal for grabbing the attention of your visitors and boosting your sales.
Feel free to change the stylish background images to match your brand.
The InkZine theme is one of my favorite Parallax themes because its design looks similar to many of the premium themes with plenty of white space and nicely placed blog post thumbnails below the Parallax slider.
The social media integration is flawless and your readers will quickly notice the buttons right at the top of your website. With a fully responsive design and custom header support, you really can’t go wrong with InkZine.
Hemingway, the author, would be proud of this WordPress theme because it offers simplicity and a style that puts your content front and center.
The two-column design is far more unique than anything else you would find on this list and the responsive theme ensures your website will look good on any device. The theme also comes equipped with custom color options and the ability to upload your own custom header image.
The Tashan Parallax theme provides a plain and straightforward design with limited features which is perfect for anyone who wants to launch their website as quickly as possible without spending a lot of time customizing their theme.
The custom header section is ideal for branding and the recent posts widget allows you to showcase your latest tips and tricks.
InkHive has a way of creating beautiful parallax WordPress themes that provide a good-looking design without skimping on the functionality. The Preus theme is no different, with its two-column layout and fully responsive design elements.
The control panel for modifying your website is extremely easy to use and the theme comes with elements like nested comments, SEO capabilities, full-width pages, and CSS transition effects for spicing up your website.
The Aldehyde theme is another theme from InkHive and it does not disappoint. The responsive design and parallax scrolling adds visual appeal without slowing down your website and the fully styled comments and posts section make it a little easier for those who don’t want to worry about CSS.
The theme comes with over 200 Font-Awesome web icons and you can choose from excerpts or full-page content for the front page of your site.
SKT Parallaxme, a striking yet simple Parallax theme, lets you add up to 10 sections on a single homepage. This means that your homepage has more than enough sections to include all the important information about your company. The theme is perfect for small businesses and companies looking to give off a corporate vibe.
OneEngine has the unique ability to modify the design from the frontend and backend. This way, you don’t have to worry about your own preference for modifying the theme. This is one of the most stylish themes on the list and it works on a single page so your visitors can just scroll down and see everything you have to offer.
The OneEngine theme is also responsive and looks great on all devices and you can include a menu if needed.
The Pilot Fish theme provides a minimalist interface that works on every device. It has a featured widgets area for showing off your services or products underneath the Parallax slider. The theme is available in English, Japanese, and Spanish, and you can customize your menus to direct people to the proper content.
The Itek Parallax WordPress theme works well for small business and e-commerce stores who are looking to turn their website into an online store. The theme comes with custom widgets that allow you to add additional content to your website and customize how the homepage looks.
This is a fairly unique free WordPress theme because not only do you receive the Parallax slider, but it comes with WooCommerce and bbPress support, which isn’t always easy to find with free themes. The theme also includes four menu locations for your navigation menus.
The Helsinki theme allows you to create a modern online presence with a stunning parallax effect. The clean code ensures your website will load fast. You can use custom colors, custom headers, and custom menus. The featured image header is a beautiful way to show off your favorite photos and to lead people to your best content.
The theme features a clean, white color scheme and the responsive layout allows for users to view your website on tablets and smartphones. Threaded comments are a standout feature which allows you to encourage conversations on your website. This theme is as simple as it gets but you can easily give it a unique style with custom fonts.
Starter is a solid theme for those looking for a free yet premium-looking theme. The one-page theme has a modern and sleek look with a responsive design and various modules to include different content. You can include anything from galleries to sliders and each of these elements has a parallax effect which is sure to wow your visitors.
The included portfolio gallery is ideal for all designers, photographers, and artists who need a way to quickly show people their past work. The code is easy to edit, and although it looks like a somewhat complex theme, I would argue it’s one of the easiest I’ve worked with. Quickly upload your own logo and play around with the social media buttons to build your social presence. The theme even includes a Meet the Team module, which includes pictures, social buttons, and bio information.
The Sixteen WordPress theme is another parallax theme that also includes artistic elements with responsive design that looks great on all devices. The theme supports the WooCommerce plugin, which is nice for those who want to sell items online. The Nivo Slider is a nice touch for posting banners or photos of your products or services.
Feel free to customize the header image and use the grid layout on the homepage to better organize your content. The theme has been translated into various languages so you can easily build a multilingual website. The footer is also customizable and you can place social media buttons and About information. Not to mention the threaded comments which ensure your visitors are engaged with your content.
Quill comes from the folks at AThemes and it provides law firms a unique chance to stand out creatively while still looking professional. The theme has many front-page blocks which allow you to display everything your law firm has to offer. The theme is completely responsive and the full-width slider is ideal for sending people to your sales pages or even posting about any promotions you may have.
All social buttons are included so you don’t have to install a third-party plugin. Change out the custom header to fit your own branding and use the built-in animations to watch your pages come to life. Custom widgets work for displaying anything from videos to recent post lists and the translation-ready nature of the theme means that you can easily translate the website into another language.
The Composer theme only has one column and that’s because it has a strong focus on putting all of the attention on your content. The parallax background is a great way to add visual appeal to your website and capture the attention of your visitors while the minimalist layout ensures that nothing is too distracting. The theme comes with multiple page layouts which allow you to add variety to your website pages.
The custom menu is always a nice touch and the threaded comments allow you to easily reply to any and all the comments. The theme looks like it is primarily designed for musicians and composers but it can easily be used for any type of business. When it comes to simplicity, this is a wonderful a great theme to start with, especially when you take into consideration it’s completely free.
The Gateway theme is an elegant and free WordPress theme with striking parallax effects for grabbing the attention of your visitors and boosting your conversion rates. The responsive theme looks nice on all devices and even has a premium version if you’d like to upgrade to receive additional features. The header image upload area allows you to add visuals to your site and the multiple widgetized areas create somewhat of a drag and drop interface. Custom homepage templates ensure you have a unique layout while logo image upload is an easy way to add a touch of your own brand.
You can easily include copyright information in the footer of the Gateway theme while the comprehensive documentation helps you get your site up and running quickly without any problems. A site wide accent color is included so you can easily add your own color scheme and Gateway is completely friendly for developers who want to use the CSS code to make advanced customizations. This truly is a sleek theme with several possibilities since the parallax area at the top takes up most of the screen and you can incorporate overlaying text and buttons.
The Dellow WordPress theme has quite a few features that make it rather appealing, besides the fact that it has parallax components. It’s completely free, so you don’t have to worry about spending a dime on the theme. It also provides a responsive design which ensures visitors on mobile devices will be able to view your site without any issues. The parallax header is the main feature and it looks great with a large image that represents your company or your brand. The theme is best suited for a blog or magazine since it’s setup in a way that caters to a large amount of content.
A translation file is offered as well, making it easy to translate your website and expand your reach. The custom background and menu are great to not only add your brand style but to provide easy navigation as well. The full-width template allows you to put your content front and center. This is handy for eliminating all the distractions that can be found in the sidebar. Along with sticky posts and threaded comments, the Dellow theme has plenty of options to create a beautiful online presence.
The Oblique theme is a highly rated theme that minimizes your overall development expenses. The theme provides a beautiful layout with some stunning parallax effects. The header has a slanted design, making it standout even more, and you can upload just about any type of high-resolution photo to make the parallax area work its magic. The theme is best for bloggers and fashion specialists since it offers a stunning masonry style layout, enabling you to showcase certain blog posts and images throughout the entire homepage. You could even make a portfolio if you used the featured images of your blog posts as items.
This is a completely responsive theme and the Google Fonts that come with the Oblique theme enable you to add a touch of elegance that you’d normally find in a premium theme. The custom background and the custom colors are perfect for additional customization. Also, the threaded comments encourage conversation and allow you to easily reply to any comments on your website. Finally, the Oblique theme is ready for translation which means you can create a multilingual website with ease.
Like we stated before; Parallax WordPress themes are some of the most engaging designs you can find, but the free options are a little sparse online. If you have any questions about these themes feel free to drop a line in the comments section below. Have fun watching your website move around with the unique Parallax functionality.