Mink Machine

CSS Menu

[2003]

When I redesigned the Impulse website in 2003, I was tempted to try a pull-down menu. This is often done with a lot of horrible JavaScript but I wanted to do one using CSS (even though this example features JavaScript to make it work in IE). It is reasonably cross-browser and standards compliant.

Please note that I do not recommend using this kind of menu for public sites, since it is inaccessible for users with CSS turned off and several mobile browsers. Some users also find it difficult to navigate with pull-down menus. If you use this kind of menu on a site, make sure that navigation is possible even without the pull-down.

Having said that, here is an example of how such a menu could look like. Hover the headers below to see it in action.

How is this done? The markup looks like this:

<ul id="mainnav"> <li><a href="#">English</a> <ul> <li><a href="#">William Blake</a></li> <li><a href="#">Emily Bronte</a></li> <li><a href="#">Robert Burns</a></li> <li><a href="#">John Keats</a></li> <li><a href="#">Percy Bysshe Shelley</a></li> </ul> </li> ... </ul>

As you might guess, the technique is basically about nesting UL elements. The first level of list items is the main navigation. The CSS to handle it looks something like this:

ul#mainnav li { display: inline; position: relative; list-style: none; ...

The second level of unordered lists is the actual drop-down. They are initially invisible, done by setting display:none. They are also positioned absolute, like this:

ul#mainnav li ul { position: absolute; top: 15px; left: -40px; display: none; }

Unfortunately, IE has lousy support for the :hover pseudo class. So to make it work properly, we have to use a bit of JavaScript to attach mouse-over events to the list elements (thank you, Patrick Griffiths and Dan Webb). The solution also uses the infamous Holly Hack for another IE patch.

As always, there is plenty of room for improvement and this code should only serve as a humble example (for instance, don't use inline styles and scripts!).

Featured stories

Eating my way through Basque country

Eating my way through Basque country

"Not too bad to wash it all down with a local Txakoli, the young white wine typical of the Basque country."
Road trip across the American Southwest

Road trip across the American Southwest

"We drove along Route 6, Route 66 and Route 666. If there was a Route 6666, we must have missed that turn."
Having champagne in Champagne

Having champagne in Champagne

"We roamed the damp and chilly tunnels and stumbled upon a large barrel delivered by Napoleon himself."
Roaming through Banff

Roaming through Banff

"Even though the main town is surrounded by mountains with names such as Sulphur Mountain, it is as far away from Mordor as one could imagine."
Memories of Skye

Memories of Skye

"The countryside is charming and some places even have coffee."
I still love you, New York

I still love you, New York

"Now I’m back and our roles are somewhat reversed. Like River Song and the Doctor, we meet again under different circumstances."

Instagram

Seville
Venice
Fever Ray
Rome
Basel
Kuala Lumpur