Beautiful Background Image Navigation with jQuery

In this tutorial we are going to create a beautiful navigation that has a background image slide effect. The main idea is to have three list items that contain the same background image but with a different position. The background image for each item will be animated to slide into place in different times, creating […]

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In this tutorial we are going to create a beautiful navigation that has a background image slide effect. The main idea is to have three list items that contain the same background image but with a different position. The background image for each item will be animated to slide into place in different times, creating a really nice effect. The background image sliding direction from the list item in the middle will depend on which item the user was before: coming from the right, it will slide from the left and vice versa.

On top of that we will have sub-menus that appear with their semi-transparent background sliding in. These backgrounds create an awesome effect of actually just being one element that slides into place, changing its color.

Note: There is a new version which let’s you customize things better:
Sliding Background Image Menu with jQuery

We will be using the amazing Background-Position Animation Plugin by Alexander Farkas.

The photos that we will be using are from Pat’s beautiful B&W collection on Flickr.

There will be a little bit of CSS3 involved which absence will almost not be notable when using a browser that does not support its properties (like IE).

We tried to make this one cross-browser compatible and voilà! It works beautifully in Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, IE8, IE7 and guess what, it even works respectively in IE6. (We are using an adapted style sheet and you will have to apply some PNG fix if you want the sub-menu backgrounds to be  semi-transparent. )

OK, so let’s get started!

The Markup

The HTML will consist of a wrapper div and an unordered list with three list items. We will initially set some “bg” classes that will have the respective background images. The “menuWrapper” will always have the “bg” class of the current list item so that we have the background image of the current list item.

<div id="menuWrapper" class="menuWrapper bg1">
	<ul class="menu" id="menu">
		<li class="bg1" style="background-position:0 0;">
			<a id="bg1" href="#">Our Passion</a>
			<ul class="sub1" style="background-position:0 0;">
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 1</a></li>
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 2</a></li>
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 3</a></li>
			</ul>
		</li>
		<li class="bg1" style="background-position:-266px 0px;">
			<a id="bg2" href="#">Our Brands</a>
			<ul class="sub2" style="background-position:-266px 0;">
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 1</a></li>
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 2</a></li>
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 3</a></li>
			</ul>
		</li>
		<li class="last bg1" style="background-position:-532px 0px;">
			<a id="bg3" href="#">Contact</a>
			<ul class="sub3" style="background-position:-266px 0;">
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 1</a></li>
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 2</a></li>
				<li><a href="#">Submenu 3</a></li>
			</ul>
		</li>
	</ul>
</div>

For the background animation plugin to work correctly we need to set the position of the background image as inline styles initially. We already set the right position for each background image, for example, the third item will have the background image positioned to the outer right.

As you can see, every list item has another sub-list with three more items. The background image position of these sublists is set to a value that hides the image. When we animate the background then, we will create the effect of sliding it in from the left or the right.

The CSS

Let’s start by the general style of the the “menuWrapper” which will contain the font styles and the size of the whole element:

.menuWrapper{
    font-family: "Trebuchet MS", Arial, sans-serif;;
    font-size: 15px;
    font-style: normal;
    font-weight: normal;
    text-transform:uppercase;
    letter-spacing: normal;
    line-height: 1.45em;
    position:relative;
    margin:20px auto;
    height:542px;
    width:797px;
    background-position:0 0;
    background-repeat:no-repeat;
    background-color:transparent;
}

The list and the list items of the first layer will have the following style:

ul.menu{
    list-style:none;
    width:797px;
}
ul.menu > li{
    float:left;
    width:265px;
    height:542px;
    border-right:1px solid #777;
    background-repeat:no-repeat;
    background-color:transparent;
}
ul.menu > li.last{
    border:none;
}

The selector “>” addresses only the li elements of the first layer and will not be applied to the ones of the sub-menus. We will give the last li the class “last” in order to remove the right border.

The following three classes define the background images. We will give these classes to all the li elements depending on which one we hover. So, if we hover the second li, we will give the “bg2” class to all the first layer list items:

.bg1{
    background-image: url(../images/1.jpg);
}
.bg2{
    background-image: url(../images/2.jpg);
}
.bg3{
    background-image: url(../images/3.jpg);
}

Let’s define the look of the link elements in the first layer list. Since the li elements have a big height, we need to push the link elements down. We do that by setting a high top margin:

ul.menu > li > a{
    float:left;
    width:265px;
    height:50px;
    margin-top:450px;
    text-align:center;
    line-height:50px;
    color:#ddd;
    background-color:#333;
    letter-spacing:1px;
    cursor:pointer;
    text-decoration:none;
    text-shadow:0px 0px 1px #fff;
}

To center the text of a link element vertically, you can give a line-height value equal to the height of the element. (I don’t know why, but when I started with learning CSS, I automatically always used paddings to adapt the height of the element and to center it. Using line-height was a real delight because you can control sizes much better like that.)

The second layer lists would naturally appear after the first layer list, so we use a negative top margin to “pull” them up:

ul.menu > li ul{
    list-style:none;
    float:left;
    margin-top:-180px;
    width:100%;
    height:110px;
    padding-top:20px;
    background-repeat:no-repeat;
    background-color:transparent;
}

The li elements of the sub-menu will be initially hidden. In the script we will fade them in when we hover over their parent list item link:

ul.menu > li ul li{
    display:none;
}

Now we define the classes for the background images of the sub-menus:

ul.menu > li ul.sub1{
    background-image:url(../images/bg1sub.png);
}
ul.menu > li ul.sub2{
    background-image:url(../images/bg2sub.png);
}
ul.menu > li ul.sub3{
    background-image:url(../images/bg3sub.png);
}

The link elements of the li elements will have the following style:

ul.menu > li ul li a{
    color:#fff;
    text-decoration:none;
    line-height:30px;
    margin-left:20px;
    text-shadow:1px 1px 1px #444;
    font-size:11px;
}

ul.menu > li ul li a:hover{
    border-bottom:1px dotted #fff;
}

The first sub-list will be shown in the beginning:

ul.menu > li ul.sub1 li{
    display:block;
}

And that’s all the style. Take a look at the ZIP file for the IE6 style sheet.
Now let’s take a look at the JavaScript.

The JavaScript

What we do in the script is the following: we first check where we are coming from and then we animate the background positions of the list elements in the first level and the backgrounds of the sub-menus accordingly:

$(function() {
	/* position of the <li> that is currently shown */
	var current = 0;

	$('#bg1,#bg2,#bg3').mouseover(function(e){

		var $this = $(this);
		/* if we hover the current one, then don't do anything */
		if($this.parent().index() == current)
			return;

		/* item is bg1 or bg2 or bg3, depending where we are hovering */
		var item = e.target.id;

		/*
		this is the sub menu overlay. Let's hide the current one
		if we hover the first <li> or if we come from the last one,
		then the overlay should move left -> right,
		otherwise right->left
		 */
		if(item == 'bg1' || current == 2)
			$('#menu .sub'+parseInt(current+1))
			    .stop()
				.animate({backgroundPosition:"(-266px 0)"},300,function(){
					$(this).find('li').hide();
				});
		else
			$('#menu .sub'+parseInt(current+1))
				.stop()
				.animate({backgroundPosition:"(266px 0)"},300,function(){
					$(this).find('li').hide();
				});

		if(item == 'bg1' || current == 2){
			/*
			if we hover the first <li> or if we come from
			the last one, then the images should move left -> right
			*/
			$('#menu > li')
				.animate({backgroundPosition:"(-800px 0)"},0)
				.removeClass('bg1 bg2 bg3')
				.addClass(item);
			move(1,item);
		}
		else{
			/*
			if we hover the first <li> or if we come
			from the last one, then the images should move
			right -> left
			*/
			$('#menu > li')
				.animate({backgroundPosition:"(800px 0)"},0)
				.removeClass('bg1 bg2 bg3')
				.addClass(item);
			move(0,item);
		}

		/*
		We want that if we go from the first one to the last one
		(without hovering the middle one), or from the last one
		to the first one, the middle menu's overlay should also
		slide, either from left to right or right to left.
		 */
		if(current == 2 && item == 'bg1'){
			$('#menu .sub'+parseInt(current))
			.stop()
			.animate({backgroundPosition:"(-266px 0)"},300);
		}
		if(current == 0 && item == 'bg3'){
			$('#menu .sub'+parseInt(current+2))
			.stop()
			.animate({backgroundPosition:"(266px 0)"},300);
		}

		/* change the current element */
		current = $this.parent().index();

		/* let's make the overlay of the current one appear */

		$('#menu .sub'+parseInt(current+1))
			.stop().animate({backgroundPosition:"(0 0)"},300,function(){
				$(this).find('li').fadeIn();
			});
	});
	/*
	dir:1 - move left->right
	dir:0 - move right->left
	 */
	function move(dir,item){
		if(dir){
			$('#bg1').parent()
					 .stop()
					 .animate({backgroundPosition:"(0 0)"},200);
			$('#bg2').parent()
					 .stop()
					 .animate({backgroundPosition:"(-266px 0)"},300);
			$('#bg3').parent()
					 .stop()
					 .animate({backgroundPosition:"(-532px 0)"},400,function(){
						$('#menuWrapper').removeClass('bg1 bg2 bg3')
										 .addClass(item);
					 });
		}
		else{
			$('#bg1').parent()
					 .stop()
					 .animate({backgroundPosition:"(0 0)"},400,function(){
						$('#menuWrapper').removeClass('bg1 bg2 bg3')
										 .addClass(item);
					 });
			$('#bg2').parent()
					 .stop()
					 .animate({backgroundPosition:"(-266px 0)"},300);
			$('#bg3').parent()
					 .stop()
					 .animate({backgroundPosition:"(-532px 0)"},200);
		}
	}
});

And that’s it! A beautiful cross-browser capable effect!
I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial.

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ML is a freelance web designer and developer with a passion for interaction design. She studied Cognitive Science and Computational Logic and has a weakness for the smell of freshly ground peppercorns.

http://www.codrops.com

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Comments are closed.
  1. Hello Mary Lou,
    Great tutorial and brilliant solution 🙂
    Do you mind if I use it for my own personal site? 😀 with great modifications of course 🙂
    Thank you very much for sharing

    • @Cezar Of course I don’t mind! I am glad that you like the solution, and it just looks fantastic with your drawings! Cheers, ML

  2. i wanted to do a four column one, but a bigger dimension, but its not quite working out for me, if you could help me out that would be awesome

  3. i figured it out after all, i was just wondering if you mind me using this for my photography website?

    • @Jayce, of course I don’t mind! Please feel free to use this for your site 🙂 Cheers, ML

  4. @Jayce, hey I checked out you website and the navigation definitely needs that the images are preloaded… Just download the ZIP again, we updated it some time ago. Also, for working with 4 pictures, check out the comments and the link of R.BIRD, I think that will help you a lot! Cheers, ML

  5. i got the 4 column figured out, and i updated the link again. Its just the pre loading that need to add yet. and thank you so much for this, this is exactly what i was wanting my site to look like 🙂

  6. This is oen of the b’ful example i have seen so far here. great tutorial !

  7. Great tut.
    Has anyone managed to get more than 3 images working in Internet Explorer ?

  8. Great work, Mary Lou – thanx!

    I have a problem – I just wanted to try the option with the midlle menu to open first, but there was a problem with your link to the .zip file.

    • @janez, sorry about that, the correct link to that ZIP file can be found here . Thanks for you feedback! Cheers, ML

  9. Love this script! So crisp.

    If I wanted the images to be smaller, say 740×501 instead of 800×542, what would be the best way to adapt this?

    Thanks!

  10. A quick update to my previous post…doing what I would consider “obvious” gives a weird repeat to the image on the right, about 40px wide. So it’s not just a matter of changing the size?

  11. Okay I am using the file that R.Bird was so kind to provide but I only need one sub menu on one of my sections how do I get it to line up flush with the along the main menu. Right now its just floating up at the normal position by itself. I have tried changing CSS and nothing is moving it.

  12. Has anyone tried using this with wordpress. Apparently wordpress uses jquery in safe mode. So I wrapped the javascript code in index.html with this.

    (function($){
    The code that was in index.html
    })(jQuery);

    Still I cannot get it to work.

    My CSS files are linked up properly
    My js files are linked up properly

    Has anyone made this work with wordpress? Any ideas?

    Cheers and awesome script.

  13. Figured out the wordpress installation issue from my last comment.

    Wrapped js code with the following
    (function($){
    The code that was in index.html
    })(jQuery);

    Found this line in index.html
    }).attr(‘src’, ‘images/’+i+’.jpg’);

    changed it to this
    }).attr(‘src’, ‘/images/’+i+’.jpg’);

  14. Comment about line change stripped out my php code

    basically the line change points to the images directory.
    bloginfo(‘stylesheet_directory’);

    of course wrapped in php.