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DISCUSS: The Locomotive scroll — what do you guys think of it?

I'm Naseki, a fullstack webdeveloper who wants to share her experiences with the net.
Updated on ・2 min read

The locomotive scroll is always a bit of a hit-or-miss to designers. Some absolutely hate it due to questionable UX, but many agencies that have Awwwards SOTD sites use it (or something similar) so it's definitely widely loved as well. Others think that it depends on the site and whether it adds to the overall experience.

I don't hear this topic a lot among devs though, so I wonder what you guys think of it!

What is the locomotive scroll?

Github repo

Locomotive scroll is a smooth scrolling plugin made by the web agency (surprise surprise) Locomotive. All you have to do is add the plugin, initialise it, and add a tiny bit of HTML where you'd like the scrolling behaviour to be. It also includes parallax features using the "scroll speed" of your elements.

What it does is replacing the default scrolling behaviour of pages and replace it with a much more easened scroll. This generally gives scrolling through the page a more pleasing feeling.

Here are some examples of sites that use the locomotive scroll (or similar behaviour that looks like it):

✍ Comment below answering the following question

Do you find it mezmerising or are you one of those people who absolutely can't stand it?

Update: Elaborated a bit on how Locomotive scroll works for those who aren't familiar with plugins like this one.

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Discussion (8)

jayjeckel profile image
Jay Jeckel

I'm still not sure I understand what this effect is supposed to do, but considering how overly busy and obnoxious Locomotive's site is, I'd default to dismissing any design, style, or effect they suggest.

naseki profile image
Naseki Author

I've elaborated a bit in the post what exactly this plugin does, so hopefully that helps a bit!

I've made the wrong assumption that people were familiar with the Locomotive scroll, especially considering almost all Awwwards sites pretty much use it and Locomotive has been selected as the agency of the year 3 times in a row. And even moreso after Gary Simon (DesignCourse) made a tutorial about it.

Considering you don't like Locomotive's site, it must come as a surprise to you that they're extremely successful as an agency. 😅 That's totally valid though, I believe Awwwards sites have a bit of this reputation going on of being very pretty and impressive but totally bloated, so you're not alone.

jayjeckel profile image
Jay Jeckel

Thanks for clarifying the article. I wouldn't say I'm surprised they are a successful agency; suits and artists love pretty things, even to the detriment of good GUI design.

claricedesign profile image

It seems to me that you can create beautiful, impactful, cool sites, but in the end they all look a bit the same, with the same spacing, the same effects, the same boring desire to amaze at all costs.
The content is supposed to be king but it seems that in these sites it becomes secondary as well as making the reading of the text almost disturbing, it just seems the excuse to show some cool stuff.
Now that I said how much I like it :) I also say that I don't like anything that modifies the natural behavior of browsers, they always seem like unnecessary forcing, which many times can create doubts in 'normal users' who are not involved in the design or dev sector, breaking another of my few golden rules 'don't make me think'..
And if you don't understand it is the fault of google translator ;)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I'm definitely hesitat with anything that takes over scroll, but this is definitely well done.

kallmanation profile image
Nathan Kallman

2nd on the hesitancy. Smooth scrolling / parallax can look amazing when it works well; but often devolves into a jittery, unresponsive mess; even on multi-billion dollar sites. If they couldn't get it right how am I supposed to?

naseki profile image
Naseki Author

It's something I'm definitely always hesistant with as well, especially changing the speed of the scrolling behaviour itself. It can look good on aesthetically pleasing sites, but I'd probably not bother reading any text that's on there.

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

Please no. Never interfere with scroll. Instant tab-closer.