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Scroll Not Working? Here’s How To Fix Scrolling Problems With CSS

Date: 30/11/2023


Scrolling problems are a major issue for many websites. Often, the problem stems from ambitious design features which, although they look great, are often stilted in practice. Here’s How To Fix Scrolling Problems With CSS.

Did you know that a mere one-second delay in web page response times can reduce conversions by a whopping 7%? It’s an alarming statistic, and rest assured there are more facts where that came from.

The bottom line is that poor website performance – whether that’s slow load-times, sluggish video or stilted scrolling – can cause real damage to businesses.

Thankfully, some creative CSS can help fix scrolling problems and bring out the best in both design and performance. Discover how in this expert guide.

Why you should avoid scrolling problems

With the rise of mobile usage, smooth scrolling (particularly on mobile) is becoming increasingly important for a successful website. Users expect a smooth and intuitive scrolling experience when browsing, and any issues in this area can lead to frustration and, ultimately, lost customers.

Moreover, scrolling problems can also impact website accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) specifically address the need for smooth scrolling as part of making websites accessible to all users.

In addition, poorly performing websites can also harm search engine rankings. With Google’s Core Web Vitals update, website performance metrics such as loading speed and page smoothness are now taken into account when determining search result rankings.

Scroll is not working: CSS scroll problems uncovered

In this article, we’re tackling a specific scrolling problem created by a static viewport-sized background image. In other words, the background image remains static while the foreground moves as you scroll.

If you’re familiar with this functionality, you’ll know that if executed in the correct way, it’s a stunning design feature. But all too often it’s far from perfect, producing a jolting scrolling experience and poor performance. 

A jolting scroll is caused by an effect called ‘repainting’, which occurs when the background image and foreground elements are not optimally aligned. This can cause a sort of stuttering as you scroll down the page.

This can create a frustrating user experience and ultimately, damage your website’s engagement and conversion rates. 

What causes this specific scrolling problem with static background images?

The issue stems from the markup used to control this design feature – background-attachment: fixed – which requires a lot of background work.

Every time a user scrolls or uses the scroll bar, the web page has to reposition content and repaint the image relative to this content, to create the illusion that the image is static. As we mentioned, this is known as ‘repainting’, and it can cause some serious performance flaws.

So, how can you fix this issue?

How to fix website scroll issues using CSS

First, we want to point out that the role of CSS is not to undermine creative design. Instead, it strives to fix issues that hamper the performance of a website, when these problems stem from visual elements.

CSS can be used to rectify jolting scrolling issues, which can be an immediate source of frustration for web users. The first step is identifying what causes the problem, and then identifying a clever way to fix it.

Step 1: Use Google Chrome’s DevTools to diagnose the problem

To fix this scrolling problem, you’ll first need to confirm the diagnosis. 

A quick peek into the timeline feature of Google Chrome’s DevTools reveals the problem – simply hit record and you’ll have real-time insight into the fps (frames per second). At around 60fps, there will be jitter in scrolling. From 30fps, there is a real cause for concern.

Step 2: Use CSS to resolve the issues

To resolve the performance issues, you’ll need the help of CSS. 

The background image requires its own element, which allows the image to move independently of other elements. To do this, you’ll need the will-change: transform property, which tells the browser to render the background element separately.

To mitigate the same issue related to repainting and enhance your website’s performance, you can also employ a simple custom code in CSS. The solution revolves around wrapping your static background image in a parent element.

Here’s an example code:


.parent-element {

   position: fixed;

   top: 0;

   right: 0;

   bottom: 0;

   left: 0;

   z-index: -1;


.parent-element img {

   max-width: 100%;


In this example, the parent element is positioned to cover the viewport completely, and the `z-index` is set to `-1`, which means it lies below all other elements on the page. The image then fills the parent element but does not exceed its original size, thanks to the `max-width: 100%` specification.

By employing this method, you can solve the scrolling problem while maintaining the captivating static background image feature, thereby ensuring an optimized and seamless user experience.

Additional CSS solutions for scroll issues

Horizontal scrollbars

Another common scroll-related issue encountered by developers is the unwanted horizontal scrollbar caused by elements that extend beyond the viewport width. A solution to this is using a `container div` with a `min-width` set to 100%. 

This encapsulates your content and ensures that it does not exceed the viewport width. Here’s an example:


.container {

  min-width: 100%;

  overflow-x: hidden;


Max height settings

Setting the `max-height` property can also be beneficial in controlling the vertical scroll. It limits the height of an element, preventing it from growing beyond the specified value, hence providing a more controlled scrolling experience.


.element {

  max-height: 500px;

  overflow-y: auto;


Border styles

Yet another common issue is losing sight of an element’s boundaries. A simple fix to this is adjusting the `border-style` of the element. A solid border can differentiate an element from its background, making it more noticeable.


.element {

  border: 1px solid #000;


Margin settings

Margin right

If you want to create space between elements without affecting the alignment, `margin-right` is a very useful property. It creates extra space to the right of an element, thus separating it from its neighbors.


.element {

  margin-right: 20px;


Margin left

Another crucial CSS property that helps manage the layout of a website is `margin-left`. This property adds space to the left side of an element, offering a buffer between this element and others on its left. This is particularly useful when you want to maintain a clean, organized look and avoid crowding between page elements.

Here’s an example of how you can use the `margin-left` property:


.element {

  margin-left: 20px;


Background colors

Lastly, changing the `background-color` of elements can drastically improve the readability of a webpage. By choosing contrasting colors for your background and text, you can ensure your content is easy to read, thus improving user engagement.


.container {

  background-color: #fff;

  color: #333;


Incorporating these CSS properties into your site can significantly improve scroll performance and overall user experience. Be sure to experiment with these tips and techniques to discover what works best for your specific site design and needs.

Closing Thoughts

Any CSS change comes with a word of caution. Before you take the plunge, you’ll need a testing environment and an understanding of any potential knock-on effects, because a simple change could do more harm than good to your website’s performance.Do your research and, if you’re not a front-end developer, find an expert who can do the job on your behalf. Your website and your customers will thank you for it.

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