CSS-Based Navigation Menus: Modern Solutions

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Navigation menus have to be intuitive, precise and easy-to-use. One simple, basic principle, which is common for all kinds of nav bars you would ever want to use for your projects. In fact, navigation menu is probably the most important element in web design: after all, it is being used more often than any other element on a given page. Therefore it’s important to make sure that your visitors will find they way around the site structure – however complex the latter might be.

So how do designers cope with a challenging task to create an attractive and usable menu? Which results can be achieved? OK, that’s a tough one. Let’s take a look around.

Below you’ll find 53 beautiful and user-friendly Navigation Menus and solutions web-designers came up with using basic CSS styling.

PS: Over the last few months we’ve reviewed CSS-Based Techniques1, CSS-Based Forms2 and CSS-Based Tables3 and CSS-Based Footers4 (yes, some of these techniques use not only CSS, but also JavaScript and PHP). You’ll find even more CSS-related articles in our CSS Section5.

PSS: We have included some DHTML- and JavaScript-based navigation menus in this list by mistake. Sorry for inconvenience.

CSS-Based Navigation Menus

1. Change.org6

Navigation Menus - Change.org7

2. N.Design Studio | Design & Blog8

Navigation Menus - N.Design Studio | Design & Blog9

3. Good Creative – Web and Graphic Design

Navigation Menus - Good Creative - Web and Graphic Design

4. MacRabbit – Welcome10

Navigation Menus - MacRabbit - Welcome11

5. Joyent: Introducing Joyent12

Navigation Menus - Joyent: Introducing Joyent13

6. CSS Vault » The Web’s CSS Site14

Navigation Menus - CSS Vault » The Web's CSS Site15

7. notiam.com16

Navigation Menus - notiam.com17

8. Jamie Huskisson: Full time UK PHP freelance developer18

Navigation Menus - Jamie Huskisson: Full time UK PHP freelance developer19

9. Web design, development and consultancy from Ottawa, Canada – Snook.ca20

Navigation Menus - Web design, development and consultancy from Ottawa, Canada - Snook.ca21

10. BREAKER DESIGN22

Navigation Menus - BREAKER DESIGN23

11. Jen Gordon24

Navigation Menus - Jen Gordon25

12. Tulumarka26

Navigation Menus - Tulumarka27

13. Ars Technica28

Navigation Menus - Ars Technica29

14. CSS Beauty | CSS Design, News, Jobs, Community, Web Standards30

Navigation Menus - CSS Beauty | CSS Design, News, Jobs, Community, Web Standards31

15. Digg / Technology32

Navigation Menus - Digg / Technology33

16. Triple Crown Customer Service34

Navigation Menus - Triple Crown Customer Service35

17. microformats36

Navigation Menus - microformats37

18. Badboy.ro38

Navigation Menus - Badboy.ro39

19. GetMenus.ca40

Navigation Menus - GetMenus.ca41

20. Wedding Extravaganza 2007 – A Perfect Marriage42

Navigation Menus - Wedding Extravaganza 2007 - A Perfect Marriage43

21. Job Pile – Aggregating the Best Job Boards on the Web – Artypapers44

Navigation Menus - Job Pile - Aggregating the Best Job Boards on the Web - Artypapers45

22. Norman Morrow & Co – Estate Agents In Crumlin, Northern Ireland46

Navigation Menus - Norman Morrow & Co - Estate Agents In Crumlin, Northern Ireland47

23. Listal – List the stuff you love! Movies, TV, music, games and books48

Navigation Menus - Listal - List the stuff you love! Movies, TV, music, games and books49

24. folietto50

Navigation Menus - folietto51

25. Tony Yoo – Online Showcase (version2)52

Navigation Menus - Tony Yoo - Online Showcase (version2)53

26. Digital Web Magazine54

Navigation Menus - Digital Web Magazine55

27. Denbighshire Supporting Business56

Navigation Menus - Denbighshire Supporting Business | Denbighshire, Supporting, Business57

28. Pulmad, peod, lillesalong… – Annilill Peoteenindus58

Navigation Menus - Pulmad, peod, lillesalong... - Annilill Peoteenindus59

29. ExpressionEngine – Publish Your Universe!60

Navigation Menus - ExpressionEngine - Publish Your Universe!61

30. coda.coza62

Navigation Menus - coda.coza63

31. purevolume™ | We’re Listening To You64

Navigation Menus - purevolume™ | We're Listening To You65

32. EGOLOUNGE *Büro für digitales Design66

Navigation Menus - EGOLOUNGE *Büro für digitales Design67

33. Merix – Internet Technologies68

Navigation Menus - Merix - Internet Technologies69

34. Bartelme Design | Showroom70

Navigation Menus - Bartelme Design | Showroom71

35. Luis Alarcón, Blog72

Navigation Menus - Luis Alarcón, Blog73

36. CSS3 . info – Everything you need to know about CSS374

Navigation Menus - CSS3 . info - Everything you need to know about CSS375

37. nclud™ a creative web design agency76

Navigation Menus - nclud™ a creative web design agency77

38. Convan Design – Howdy78

Navigation Menus - Convan Design - Howdy79

39. ExpressionEngine – Publish Your Universe!80

Navigation Menus - ExpressionEngine - Publish Your Universe!81

40. Silverpoint: Web Solutions for Schools82

Navigation Menus - Silverpoint: Web Solutions for Schools83

41. Jambor-ee – Celebrating ExpressionEngine

Navigation Menus - Jambor-ee - Celebrating ExpressionEngine

42. far from fearless84

Navigation Menus - far from fearless85

43. Scribd – Home86

Navigation Menus - Scribd - Home87

44. Erika Greco – Blog88

Navigation Menus - Erika Greco - Blog89

45. Photoshop Tutorials and Articles – Tutorial Blog90

Navigation Menus - Photoshop Tutorials and Articles - Tutorial Blog91

46. Welcome to Buzz — Buzz Recruitment92

Navigation Menus - Welcome to Buzz — Buzz Recruitment93

47. Michal Zapoměl – český vlasový design | czech hair design94

Navigation Menus - Michal Zapoměl - český vlasový design | czech hair design - Úvodní stránka95

48. Onlinecenter Upload96

Navigation Menus - Onlinecenter Upload97

49. M122Arts Mixed Media and Technology // oo*o

Navigation Menus - M122Arts Mixed Media and Technology // oo*o

50. KazanShops.Ru98

Navigation Menus - Магазины Казани - казанский сайт для тех, кто покупает - www.KazanShops.Ru99

51. Stone inc. – Aménagements Paysager, Pavés.100

Navigation Menus - Stone inc. - Aménagements Paysager, Pavés, Murets, Tourbe et plus!101

52. Pixellogo102

Navigation Menus - Pixellogo103

53. AUSMAG – das Australien Work & Travel Portal104

Navigation Menus - AUSMAG - das Australien Work & Travel Portal - Arbeiten und Reisen in Australien105

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/01/19/53-css-techniques-you-couldnt-live-without/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2006/11/11/css-based-forms-modern-solutions/
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2006/12/29/css-based-tables-modern-solutions/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/01/09/css-based-footers-modern-solutions/
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/category/css/
  6. 6 http://change.org/
  7. 7 http://change.org/
  8. 8 http://www.ndesign-studio.com/
  9. 9 http://www.ndesign-studio.com/
  10. 10 http://macrabbit.com/
  11. 11 http://macrabbit.com/
  12. 12 http://www.joyent.com/
  13. 13 http://www.joyent.com/
  14. 14 http://cssvault.com/
  15. 15 http://cssvault.com/
  16. 16 http://notiam.com/
  17. 17 http://notiam.com/
  18. 18 http://www.jhuskisson.com/
  19. 19 http://www.jhuskisson.com/
  20. 20 http://www.snook.ca/
  21. 21 http://www.snook.ca/
  22. 22 http://www.breakerdesign.com/
  23. 23 http://www.breakerdesign.com/
  24. 24 http://www.whoisjengordon.com/
  25. 25 http://www.whoisjengordon.com/
  26. 26 http://www.tulumarka.com/
  27. 27 http://www.tulumarka.com/
  28. 28 http://arstechnica.com/index.ars
  29. 29 http://arstechnica.com/index.ars
  30. 30 http://www.cssbeauty.com/
  31. 31 http://www.cssbeauty.com/
  32. 32 http://digg.com/view/technology
  33. 33 http://digg.com/view/technology
  34. 34 http://triplecrowncs.com/
  35. 35 http://triplecrowncs.com/
  36. 36 http://microformats.org/
  37. 37 http://microformats.org/
  38. 38 http://www.badboy.ro
  39. 39 http://www.badboy.ro
  40. 40 http://www.getmenus.ca/
  41. 41 http://www.getmenus.ca/
  42. 42 http://www.weddingextravaganza.co.uk/
  43. 43 http://www.weddingextravaganza.co.uk/
  44. 44 http://artypapers.com/jobpile/
  45. 45 http://artypapers.com/jobpile/
  46. 46 http://www.normanmorrow.co.uk/
  47. 47 http://www.normanmorrow.co.uk/
  48. 48 http://www.listal.com/
  49. 49 http://www.listal.com/
  50. 50 http://www.folietto.at/
  51. 51 http://www.folietto.at/
  52. 52 http://tonyyoo.com/v2/
  53. 53 http://tonyyoo.com/v2/
  54. 54 http://www.digital-web.com/
  55. 55 http://www.digital-web.com/
  56. 56 http://www.denbighshiresupportingbusiness.co.uk/General/xhtml/default.asp?lang=eng&pn=Home%20Page
  57. 57 http://www.denbighshiresupportingbusiness.co.uk/General/xhtml/default.asp?lang=eng&pn=Home%20Page
  58. 58 http://www.annilill.ee/
  59. 59 http://www.annilill.ee/
  60. 60 http://www.expressionengine.com/
  61. 61 http://www.expressionengine.com/
  62. 62 http://coda.co.za/
  63. 63 http://coda.co.za/
  64. 64 http://www.purevolume.com/sleeveless
  65. 65 http://www.purevolume.com/sleeveless
  66. 66 http://www.egolounge.de/
  67. 67 http://www.egolounge.de/
  68. 68 http://www.merix.com.pl/
  69. 69 http://www.merix.com.pl/
  70. 70 http://bartelme.at/showroom
  71. 71 http://bartelme.at/showroom
  72. 72 http://www.luisalarcon.com/blog/
  73. 73 http://www.luisalarcon.com/blog/
  74. 74 http://www.css3.info/
  75. 75 http://www.css3.info/
  76. 76 http://nclud.com/
  77. 77 http://nclud.com/
  78. 78 http://convandesign.com/
  79. 79 http://convandesign.com/
  80. 80 http://expressionengine.com/
  81. 81 http://expressionengine.com/
  82. 82 http://www.silverpoint.net/
  83. 83 http://www.silverpoint.net/
  84. 84 http://www.farfromfearless.com/
  85. 85 http://www.farfromfearless.com/
  86. 86 http://www.scribd.com/
  87. 87 http://www.scribd.com/
  88. 88 http://www.erikagreco.com/blog/
  89. 89 http://www.erikagreco.com/blog/
  90. 90 http://tutorialblog.org/
  91. 91 http://tutorialblog.org/
  92. 92 http://www.buzzrecruitment.co.nz/
  93. 93 http://www.buzzrecruitment.co.nz/
  94. 94 http://www.cvdmz.cz/
  95. 95 http://www.cvdmz.cz/
  96. 96 http://www.onlinecenter.nu/
  97. 97 http://www.onlinecenter.nu/
  98. 98 http://www.kazanshops.ru/
  99. 99 http://www.kazanshops.ru/
  100. 100 http://www.stoneinc.ca/
  101. 101 http://www.stoneinc.ca/
  102. 102 http://www.pixellogo.com/
  103. 103 http://www.pixellogo.com/
  104. 104 http://www.ausmag.de/
  105. 105 http://www.ausmag.de/

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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  1. 1

    Modern solutions? Excuse me, but some of the above sites use image roll overs. Besides that you need to have javascript enabled to see these, they are plain inaccessible to other user agents than the standard browsers. So much for ‘usability’ and ‘using basic CSS styling’.

    3
    • 2

      Not to mention that 90% of these are just tabbed horizontal nav menus. Wherein lies the “solution”?

      1
    • 3

      CSS can be used for roll-over effects without JavaScript animations. (e.g. a:hover)

      0
  2. 4

    You guys never stop amazing me :)

    Smashing is a name that fit you .

    where is the digg button , need to digg this .

    0
  3. 5

    Great work .

    Keep it up !

    it would be nice if we also had access to the source of those designs .

    1
  4. 6

    It strikes me as mostly design variations on the same theme.

    For true originality you could have restricted this post to just one link :

    http://www.cssplay.co.uk/menus/index.html

    1
  5. 8

    Chaaban, they got banned from Digg. Read their “8 Things You Should Know About Smashing Magazine” post.

    0
  6. 9

    is it my browser/computer or is the N.Design nav bar very laggy?

    0
  7. 10

    Very nice to see these great solutions.. but was there are reason for not putting in any vertikal CSS menu’s?

    0
  8. 11

    Скакунов Александр

    March 15, 2007 1:22 am

    I don’t see anything attractive, but thanks for the set.

    0
  9. 12
  10. 13

    I’m in no way bashing these examples or any of the other fine fine sets assembled here, but does anyone else find it odd that the majority of all these examples are design shops or personal portfolios?

    Can we not sell these ideas to our clients?

    Great work though!

    Cheers,Tim

    0
  11. 14

    To get the .css code…

    1) View source code of the page
    2) Grab the path to the .css inside the HEAD tags at the top of the page.
    3) Place the path of the .css at the end of the URL in the browser
    4) You’ll see the .css file.

    0
  12. 15

    @ Roy

    There is such a thing as a css image rollover, I use one on my as yet unfinished site redesign.

    0
  13. 16

    Check out this site’s all-css nav. It’s different than the two dozen tabbed horizontal bars.

    0
  14. 17

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    March 15, 2007 4:11 am

    Jen Simmons, thanks for the reference. Interesting solution, indeed.

    0
  15. 18

    Joost Money…

    Not everyone who views source code steals it…

    Some of us use it to learn from…

    0
  16. 19

    These are all great samples of well designed navigation. However many of them suffer from the “flicker” effect that is associated with a pure css navigation. Although it is mainly only in IE its still a problem… Anyone know how to solve this?

    0
  17. 20

    Maybe this site gives you some inspiriation too.

    Nice Navigation: http://www.favouritz.com/

    0
  18. 21

    Hey. You forgot to mention ‘ExpressionEngine – Publish Your Universe!’

    0
  19. 22

    Designers/Coders should learn not to make their hover the same as their “You are here” style. It’s unusable. When designing a navigation, you should have at least three distinct states: off, hover, active.

    0
  20. 23

    @ Forgiste: using CSS you usually have the roll over on the link (which is the way you should use it). I was referring to the javascript methods.

    0
  21. 24

    Come on, anyone interesting about web developing and design already know these an a whole lot more. What the point of making list of them. “Come on people digg us and click the links so we make some money”, that’s the point, isn’t it?

    0
  22. 25

    @ Jen Simmons: That’s just mystery-meat navigation. Doesn’t score too well in terms of accessibility.

    0
  23. 26

    you can get all of these sites css files..
    But you manually you have to clear your temp directory, then go to that page and then refresh the temp directory the css will be there..with the whole page layout..:0 have fun.. and we didnt tell ya how to do this,,lol

    0
  24. 27

    I dunno whats with all the unappreciative haters. I personally love going through your lists, I get massive amounts of design ideas and see new techniques and styles. I don’t really give a **** if its badly coded. Theres still alot to gain, and the list would have taken a fair amount of effort to compile. So what if they are making money from all the traffic, good on them.

    Anyways keep up the good work and don’t let the haters get you down.

    0
  25. 28

    The tabs are an obvious trend but I also noticed a bunch of carrots/pointers/wedges. I’ll have to keep an eye open and see if this is a general web trend.

    0
  26. 29

    great work…!!!

    0
  27. 30

    YOU SURE ARE A SMART GUY bogy!!!

    There. That was the subtext of your post and you got what you wanted. Happy?

    Now spare us the superior attitude and disdain. It’s tiresome.

    0
  28. 31

    Jamie Huskisson

    March 15, 2007 8:06 am

    Thanks for the feature guys. I only launched the new layout with that menu last night around 11pm.. so to find out by 4-5pm that it had been posted up here was amusing :)

    0
  29. 32

    I took a look at the first few, saw that they were either image-based and thus completely unscalable or had text in them that refused to scale with the browser text height. Meh. Any fool can create a pretty-looking menu if you’re fixing your size. Show me pretty menus that scale up and down gracefully and then I’m impressed.

    0
  30. 33

    is it my browser/computer or is the N.Design nav bar very laggy?

    0
  31. 34

    Now, which of these menu styles can be done using no images at all. I try to keep loading time on my site top-notch and can’t justify extra images for anything.

    0
  32. 35

    There have been quite a few css navigation menu round-ups lately but you’ve again managed to list some of the best. Thanks!

    0
  33. 36

    Found this list a bit uninspiring, just a whole lot variations on tabs.

    Some of theme even have problems like a flicker between the normal and :hover state or worse javascript for a rollover that could easily be done with css.

    0
  34. 37

    “PSS”? I think you mean PPS.

    0
  35. 38

    why is this on digg.com? this sucks. where is the code?

    who gives a crap about a bunch of screens and links to sites?

    0
  36. 39

    check out these menus too: http://www.13styles.com

    0
  37. 40

    Another tabbed one I stumbed across: http://www.brusheezy.com

    0
  38. 41

    这些都是导航之精品!

    1
  39. 42

    not to be rude, but it should be PPS instead of PSS. PS stands for postscript so you want to say post-postscript, not postscript-script.

    Excellent set of examples. I think I’ll be adding this site to my regular routine

    0
  40. 43

    […] smashingmagazine best user friendly navigation and solutions […]

    0
  41. 44

    “Silverpoint: Web Solutions for Schools” could be called a solution if the goal is to confuse the user equally as much as look pretty. It’s almost like a drug. I’ll coin the term “crackNav”.

    0
  42. 45

    what about this menu: bnet.com Is it nice, isn’t it?

    0
  43. 46

    Nice to see but isn’t most of it the same?

    0
  44. 47

    I must say, this is a great list!

    0
  45. 48

    A nice set of examples, but not all of them are user-friendly: I call a menu user-friendly if it highlights the current page (but doesn’t link to it) and hovers over other links – to show you where you can go from here. I think it’s the minimum we can do to make the web more friendly place.

    0
  46. 49

    Uh, ExpressionEngine is in there twice…

    0
  47. 50

    The best collection I’ve ever see, thank you.

    0
  48. 51

    Gold Coast Web Designer

    May 22, 2007 12:34 pm

    great list – very useful – I’m sure I’ll be referring to this list many times!

    0
  49. 52

    yo guys i now how to get the CSS source code for the different sites, but how to i get to see the images to use for the diferent designe, is there a way to get to the images to be downloaded? please let me know, it will be so helpful..

    0
  50. 53

    I don’t know why people keep moaning about some posts on this site. If you don’t like the articles don’t read them. Its as simple as that.

    0

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