A solid navigation menu is going to be one of the best design investments that will quickly make a humongous return in the form of bounce rates, clickthroughs on your content, and general exposure of new users towards existing content. Any of the navigation menus and navigation bars below are going to give you the necessary boost in content exposure to ensure that none of your content goes unnoticed. Please enjoy at your own pace.
When a modern web developer gets his hands on some free time, he is going to hack away a custom project that he feels is necessary to be built in a unique way. SlickNav was one of those weekend projects that turned into one of the most popular responsive navigation menus for mobile browsers. The tiny yet powerful library consists of features like multiple level menus to nest menu selections, a simple codebase that allows for flexible markup, compatible with all modern browsers, can be accessed using a keyboard, and more. Once you learn how it works, you will never want to switch away to anything else. Simply create a menu with a unique ID, then use the SlickNav(); function to call the ID and apply the navigation syntax to it. That simple.
Try out slimMenu, a lightweight solution for creating responsive multi-level menus for your website. Understanding how media queries in CSS work is a challenge in itself, which is why slimMenu is hoping to eliminate the need for you to learn difficult CSS syntax and simply give you the bread and butter of a top-notch jQuery plugin. slimMenu supports tree view (nested) menus that are fully mobile responsive. You can have a number of different slimMenu widgets within the same page too, and a precise integration of tap-navigation for mobile devices to make it easy for mobile users to access sub-menu items. The design is fairly standard, and some little work is going to be required for websites that deal with a lot of colors.
In website design, there are going to be numerous ways that a designer is going to get frustrated. One of those, is working with grids. A website grid is the actual boilerplate layout of a website that you are seeing. Usually, the header grid is an individual container that receives individual styling, and markup, and so requires individual styling options. When creating navigation menus for the header, we usually run into a fairly common problem — our menu items dont stretch all the way out across the full width of our page. Very common problem that designers encounter. HorizontalNav is a jQuery library that takes your menu container, and simply allows it to stretch out in full width, maximizing the exposure of each individual menu item. So easy to apply to your website, will leave you wondering why you didn’t research this UI pattern before.
Here’s visualNav, a completely unique approach to a navigation menu. This almost feels more like a navigation menu for individual content, but let us elaborate. visualNav basically allows you to create a smooth menu browsing experience, where the navigation menu follows the user as he continues to scroll up or down a page. One might ask, what’s the point of such a navigation menu? For one, it helps to create an actual menu in the first place. Users can quickly jump from one paragraph to the next, without having to individually scroll and search for specific sections, the other reason is that this menu comes with features like an automatically updating menu that highlights within the menu the parts of content that the visitor has already seen, in turn allowing users to easily navigate the content they are consuming. It can be adjusted to work both horizontally and vertically in any website, or web page.
SmartMenus is a world class menu library/platform that promises to provide its users with a modern menu system that is going to work equally great on all browsers, devices, and platforms. From the moment you open the SmartMenus website, it’s clear that this plugin is very modernized and built in a modern way. This gives reassurance that what you are about to start using on your website, is actually a fully functional library with great support behind it. The navigation menu that you see on SmartMenus is actually amplified with the SmartMenus plugin itself, so you can get a firsthand experience of what this menu library is going to do to your menus. There are a couple of themes to choose from: blue, clean, mint, and simple, with the option for you to style your own navigation theme for the use on SmartMenus. Modern code and technology means that SmartMenus will support touch based devices, but also book readers that allow web access. All the markup is friendly to search engines, so you won’t be losing out on any visitors any time soon. Code is easy to follow, so easy to modify as well.
There’s just something about native web design that keeps designers challenged towards creating native-themed UI patterns using traditional languages like HTML or CSS. jQuery.mmenu is one such library that tries to achieve the feat of providing a native looking mobile menu for the use in mobile apps. And best of all, this menu isn’t just for mobile devices — the library is meant to work for smartphones, tablets, and desktop websites alike, and WordPress users can quickly download the free plugin to transform their existing menus into native application looking menus. It’s a wonderful library to experiment with, to get an idea of what your users like and don’t like.
What’s Drawer? Drawer is a jQuery drawer menu plugin that utilizes iScroll and modern CSS3 to create a menu drawer widget. The menu drawer widget acts as a simple button that a user can click that will draw open the site navigation. The navigation is populated by all your existing menu items, which also can be nested underneath one another. The menu can be positioned in all directions of the website, as you’d expect from such a versatile plugin.
08. Responsive Nav
TinyNav transform the “UL” and “OL” navigation elements to a select form elements for small screen sizes. A WordPress plugin is available. TinyNav is what sparked the development of Responsive Nav, the navigation menu that we outlined one above this one. Evolution happens in web development too, doesn’t it.
scrollNav has a slightly more unique purpose, this particular navigation bar is going to work best with project that need a scrolling navigation that appears on the side of the content area, the uses that come to mind at first is things like a documentation, online book, online content compilation, and others. The plugin is of course very advanced. The way it works is rather wonderful, you simply specify the individual tag that you wish to be outlined as a navigation option, for example “H2”, but you could also set it to be “H3” or “H1” it doesn’t matter to the plugin. Read the documentation to get a better understanding of the features.
Sidebar menus have grown in popularity in the recent few years. Not having a full-on menu at the header of the page means that there is more room to really expose the front-page of your website, and instead use a simple navigation icon on the side of the page that would trigger the full menu. Such approach has become popular even with sites like Google, where the right-top icon of the user profile is all you need to access every single part of Google’s products and pages. It works, and if you wish to aim for the same effect on your designs, Sidr is one of the best libraries to get the job done.
Luke Jackson is dropping some serious CSS and JS knowledge on all of us, his GreedyNav script is a unique approach towards building a menu that scales with the size of the website as the user changes or rearranges its dimensions, but also the total available dimensional ratio that the users browsing device has. So, as soon as you start to minimize the browser resolution, you will see how each of the menu items begin to nest underneath each other, depending on how much available space there is left. It could be that only one item is nested, or maybe three, or maybe all of them. It clearly is a very unique navigation script that could find use in your next creative project.
Seriously, the navigation menus we have here are getting more and more exciting with each listing we create. FooNav is another complex creation of a navigation menu that creates a stunning and very authentic experience for the reader, but also the webmaster himself. FooNav.js is a free jQuery plugin that creates a simple menu to help users navigate your site or content. Create your own custom menu links or let the plugin crawl your page for headers and build up a menu automatically. There are also multiple themes to match your site’s look and feel, or create your own theme with a little custom CSS. You need to make sure that you play around within the demo playground, it offers a structured configuration panel that lets you experience each of the available combinations of a menu that you can create using FooNav.
14. Responsive Multi Menu
At first glimpse, this menu couldn’t make any less sense than it does, but the important thing to do is pay attention. stickyNavbar is a navigation menu that sticks to the top of the page, once the user has reached the particular container that holds the menu together, this means that you could easily insert a menu in the middle of the page, have the user scroll past that page and then have your menu scroll with him alongside the rest of the page, but of course, if the user scrolls back up, above the menu, it will naturally detach itself from the top of the page. That’s the main functionality of stickyNavbar.
17. Mega Dropdown
An eCommerce website will inevitably need to have a mega dropdown, well, for as long as this eCommerce website is serving thousands of items. A mega dropdown menu is a menu that can hold huge amounts of selections, without compromising the quality of design. This is one such jQuery extension that is going to help you achieve the desired result. The mega dropdown lets you create an individual menu item, lets say “Clothing” — then when the user opens Clothing, they are presented with different choices ranging from accessories to shoes, but within each of the selections there are more subsections, and so on and on. All that, to better help you display the available items you have going on for sale. The other mega dropdown menu option in this particular library, is the ability to display gallery items within a menu, this means that you could easily advertise individual products with the use of visual content, within the menu. Oh..and if that wasn’t enough, there’s also an option to list your services and talk about each of them, also within the grid of the menu. It will be very hard to find a better mega dropdown menu than this one, it’s a powerhouse, yet provides a simple way of installation.
18. 3D Bold Navigation
3D Bold Navigation is a simple folded menu that rolls out with a 3D effect once you click on the menu icon. It’s quite large, and would require a specific design project to be viable for use, explore on your own to get a better feel for it.
19. Stretchy Navigation
What’s stretchy navigation? It’s a navigation that stretches, quite literally. Stretchy Navigation gives you a unique menu icon that once clicked, will stretch out vertically all the items on the menu. The cool part, the menu items can have a name that’s outside of the container, and a menu icon that’s inside of the container. Very interesting approach to a menu, and we think you’ll find some good purpose for it.
20. Secondary Sliding Navigation
A secondary sliding navigation will let you have two menus within a single menu grid. First, you have the default menu with all the default menu items, and then at the end of the menu, you have a selectable menu button that once you click on it, is going to unfold a secondary menu.
21. 3D Rotating Navigation
Another 3D menu, this time, we won’t see a menu jumping in our faces, instead, the 3D Rotating Navigation is going to unfold from the top of the page, giving us a fairly medium sized menu that supports menu icons, and also a close icon to close the menu. It is one of those menu solutions that enable us to have more space at the top of our pages, as we adapt to using an unfolding menu widget.
22. Responsive Overlay Menu Navigation
Overlay menus are also gaining momentum, an overlay menu lets you create a full-page menu that consists of everything there is to know about your business, yourself, the website you are running, and any other additional details. Once you click the little hamburger icon in this demo, you’re going to be stunned by the amazing menu experience that follows. A full-page menu that’s divided in three parts: about, services, an work, with each having their own individual menu items. The bottom of the overlay has enough space for you to showcase your social media availability.
23. Slide from Top full-screen Overlay Navigation
Just another overlay menu, this one though uses a slide from the top approach. Once it does slide open, you can see that there are many ways such a menu could be optimized to include custom things like email subscription forms, custom categories and pages, and other website elements that the user would need to be aware of, though of course, you can customize everything as you like, there’s no limitation whatsoever.
24. Twisted Menu jQuery
A cool menu widget that showcases an icon, once the icon is clicked, numerous menu icon items unfold around the first menu icon. You can see in the demo snapshot as to how it functions, look at the page to learn more.
25. Off-canvas Sidebar Menu with a Twist
If twisted wasn’t enough, perhaps a twist will. This stunning off-canvas menu solution is going to add a unique and dynamic function to the way your website menu is being displayed. Once the user clicks on the menu, the website gets twisted in a few degree angle, and the available menu items are unfolded at bottom-left corner. It’s a one of a kind experience as as far as navigation for a website goes, highly recommended that you explore this one more.
25. Google Nexus Website Menu
The Google Nexus website has a unique menu that scales with the content. So for example, once you open the menu, you are still exposed to the full-width of the website, though slightly resized as room is being given to the menu. This creates a similar experience to what a mobile device would be able to provide, though slightly more advanced. The tutorial discusses how you can recreate this menu yourself, and provides all the downloads for you to start using this menu script today.
Premium jQuery Navigation Menu & Bar Plugins
The free market for navigation bars and menus is evidently very huge. The options and selection of choice is clearly there, and when we set out to make this collection, it didn’t even occur to us that there would be so many great jQuery choices to choose from. Now that we have finished the free part of the collection, we realize that the free stuff alone can help us make some truly amazing menu experiences on our websites, but to help you with getting your creative juices flowing in the right direction, we will include a number of navigation menu plugins from a very famous and very active code marketplace where developers share their unique work at a small premium.
26. jQuery Dashboard Vertical Navigation
A simple, elegant, and colorful choice of a vertical menu. Will give your website the modernized feel that you seek.
27. jQuery iNav – Products Showcasing Navigation
iNav is all about the animation aspects of a menu. The inspiration for iNav comes from Apple Macintosh design, where the navigation menu items have an animated effect once they are accessed. You can create different menu categories, and then replace each menu item with an visual icon that you can animate, or use as standalone.
28. Horizon Slide Navigation jQuery Plugin
The Horizon Slide Menu is a unique jQuery library that lets you create customized menus for your website that slide open within the browser. Mobile access is crucial, so the Horizon plugin is super-responsive. Intended to be used for projects small and large, Horizon has everything to offer to those who need a reliable solution for displaying their menu items.
29. Quick & Pro Menu Navigation jQuery Plugin
The Quick & Pro Menu allows you to set individual menu items, with a unique feature called Hover. The hover feature lets you hover over the each menu item, and then experience how the menu item unfolds the content inside of it. This could be blog posts, or it could be any other media related content that you wish to display through a menu. Demo experience is necessary to understand it better.
30. jElevator jQuery Inter-Page Navigation Tool
jElevator creates a sidebar menu that needs to be clicked in order to be accessed. It also comes with two unique buttons for scrolling up and down the page, it’s a simplistic navigation solution that will be unique to your design requirements.
31. Nuxion jQuery – Responsive UX Navigation Menu Bar
What about a menu that would act more like an individual website page for each of the items that you are viewing? Well, here we have the Nuxion widget, a wonderful solution for creating menu items that have their own individual content allocated to them. For example, you could have a menu item called About Our Project, once the user clicks on this item, instead of taking them to a new page where the about details are discussing, they can preview the About Us details within the actual container of the menu item that they’ve clicked on.
32. MetNav 2- Another jQuery Metro UI navigation menu
MetaNav, another exploding menu with unique and creative features. Here, a menu item can consist of many different links, but all of the links remain in the same grid that the menu icon is within, so this means that the menu items could actually be quite large in their size, though shouldn’t be a problem for those who require a particular design feature such as this. It’s very lightweight and looks good on almost all major browsers and devices. It’s a Windows 8 Tile base navigation menu which supports unlimited sub menus. It supports responsive design and works well on touch devices.
33. Full Screen Navigation
Full screen navigation got a few mentions in our collection, here is another mention of the Full Screen Navigation library, this one allows you to create many layers and many variations of a full-screen menu, a normal menu, a menu with lists inside, a menu with boxed grids and circles, all kinds of menus to give your users the most unique menu experience possible. There are numerous other options available for creating an authentic menu for your website, please refer to the official documentation for those features.
34. Ultra Navigation – Responsive Bootstrap Sidebar Menu
The Ultra Navigation menu we see here isn’t just for the use for website menus, it’s an Ultra solution for creating menus that would work well in admin dashboards, and application dashboards that require a more dynamic menu approach. Ultra Navigation is also powered by Bootstrap, making it more appealing to modern developers. There are tens features that will keep your attention engaged, so explore them all individually.
Navigation Menus and Navigation Bars built with jQuery
Would you say that we listed some of the best choices available? If for some reason the answer is no, we hope that you will take the time to inspire us with more available options by leaving feedback on this post. jQuery is versatile, and a lot is possible using this language, over 30+ unique navigation plugins are the true testament to that, and we look forward to what developers are going to come up with in the future.