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How to create an animated sticky header, with CSS3 and jQuery

By Sara Vieira | CSS | May 8, 2014

Trends come and trends go. The ones that stick around the longest do so because they solve a particular problem. A trend that’s popular right now for that very reason, is sticky elements; elements that behave normally until we scroll, and then maintain their presence on the page somehow.

The trend started with sidebars, but where it’s really grown in popularity is headers. Why? Because headers tend to contain navigation, and persistent navigation is popular with users.

In this tutorial we’ll create a header that sticks to the top of the viewport, but so that it doesn’t interfere with the content, we’re going to minimize it when the user scrolls down the page.

Here’s what it’s going to look like when we’re done:

If you’d like to follow along with the code, you can download it here.

 

The HTML

The HTML for our example is really simple, all we need is an h1 inside a header. Below that we have an image to force the page to scroll so that we can test the effect.

<header><h1>Sticky Header</h1></header>
<img src="large-image.jpg" width="782" height="2000" alt="Big Image" />

 

The jQuery

CSS transitions are the best way of handling the animation portion of our sticky header. All we’re using jQuery for is detecting the scroll position of the window.

When the scroll position of the window is greater than 1—meaning that the user has scrolled downwards—then we want to add the class ‘sticky’ to the header; otherwise we want to remove it (if it’s there).

This means we’ll be able to style the header based on whether the ‘sticky’ class is applied.

$(window).scroll(function() {
if ($(this).scrollTop() > 1){  
    $('header').addClass("sticky");
  }
  else{
    $('header').removeClass("sticky");
  }
});

The important thing to note is that using jQuery in this way degrades gracefully; if JavaScript is disabled, the navigation will still work, the header will simply be styled in the non-sticky default state.

 

The CSS

Our CSS is used to style the two different states, the default state, and the ‘sticky’ state; and to transition between the two states.

To start with, let’s add some simple styles that improve the look of the header:

header{
  position: fixed;
  width: 100%;
  text-align: center;
  font-size: 72px;
  line-height: 108px;
  height: 108px;
  background: #335C7D;
  color: #fff;
  font-family: 'PT Sans', sans-serif;
}

Now for the fun part: when the user scrolls down, the ‘sticky’ class will be applied, and we can now style the header differently to reflect that new priority on the page. We also set the position to fixed, so that we’re not changing positioning mid-scroll.

There are several things we want to do: first, we want to change the size so that it uses up less screen space; we also want to change the color and align to the left so that visually it doesn’t interfere too much:

header.sticky {
  font-size: 24px;
  line-height: 48px;
  height: 48px;
  background: #efc47D;
  text-align: left;
  padding-left: 20px;
}

Naturally, what you do here will depend on the design you’re trying to achieve. You can do just about anything you like.

If you test this now, you’ll see that the header changes as soon as we scroll down.

Now, to animate the change, all we need to do is set a transition on the header, like so:

transition: all 0.4s ease;

 

Conclusion

Creating this animated header with CSS3 properties and toggling the class with jQuery is extremely simple and adds a ton of UX goodness to your site design.

What’s more, the code degrades gracefully, so there really is no downside to the implementation.

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  • indianwebdesigner

    not Campatible with IE8 :(

    • http://www.yellowduckwebdesign.co.uk Web Design Essex

      Retire IE8

      • Krik Batner

        There is no other option. I’ll never understand the thought process behind “Provide the exact same user experience in IE8.” I’m all for making sure that my website works, looks consistent, and is fully functional in IE8, however if I don’t have my transitions or rounded corners I’ll be able to make it.

        Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, though, but if you want fancy stuff you should upgrade your browser. I’m going to give you a working copy for IE8, but if you want the extra frills you’re gonna need to upgrade.

        Now that Windows XP has officially been retired there’s no excuse to not have anything less than IE9 now.

      • indianwebdesigner

        Yes I agree with you krik Batner, we always do that same stuff from years. yes i have an option for old clients. Recently we made that fixed header with some little bit jquery and css3 Transitions CSS3 not for compatibility.

        http://www.zanetine.com
        http://www.psdhtml5slice.com
        Thanks & Regards
        Team Zanetine

    • http://www.stookstudio.com/ Erwin Heiser

      Degrades nicely in IE8 so I fail to see the issue. Besides, there’s no excuse anymore to keep considering parity for IE8 – Win XP is officially retired.

    • http://www.eclecticradio.nl Jasper

      who cares? Upgrade your browser and remove yourself from 2003.

    • djovic

      people like you are killing the web.

  • Anubhav

    The content jumps suddenly when (after scrolling 1px) the header acquires a ‘fixed’ position.

    • Fixed

      Yeah, definitely no reason to only apply fixed on the scroll. Have it there always, apple a margin or a “top” to the content that matches the size of the bar and shrink it gracefully.

      • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

        Thanks for pointing that out, we’ve corrected it in the code.

  • tjedison

    How could this approach be modified to make a table header row sticky? Or a div that could act as a table header row?

    • EzequielBruni

      That’s actually a really good idea… especially where very vertically-long tables are concerned.

    • http://maccg.com/ Jason McGovern

      What reasoning might be behind using a div as a table header row over using a caption or th?

      • tjedison

        None at all. I just left it out there in case there was no way to do it with a thead or th, which would be preferable.

        So far, I can only do this for Safari with position:sticky

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      I haven’t tested it, but you should be able to modify the th’s display property to remove it from the DOM hierarchy, and then you can position it just as you would a div.

  • Thiago Dutra

    var top = 0;
    $(window).scroll(function() {
    if ($(this).scrollTop() > 1 && top != 1){
    top = 1;
    $(‘header’).addClass(“sticky”);
    }
    else if($(this).scrollTop() <= 1 && top != 0){
    top = 0;
    $('header').removeClass("sticky");
    }
    });

    • Ionut Costica

      Though you should first check the “top” variable in the if conditions, so it fails early, without going into the scrollTop function if not necessary

  • Dylan

    You’re doing a lookup of “header” once every time the scroll event is fired. You should assign the element an ID, do the lookup once, then assign it to a variable.

  • Hết Giấy

    Thanks

  • http://mindlogicsinc.com MindLogics

    Amazing idea, good stuff but some compatibility issues exists.

  • Roshane Ingram

    nice

  • Dmitry Valuev

    very cool

  • http://www.freewebtrends.iblogger.org/ Ardream – FreeWebTrends

    jQuery and CSS3 are awesome. But the problem is the browser support for these technologies and you can’t decide the browsers of your visitors. By the way, this is a nice feature.

  • BrendonBrown

    Lovely and simple, thanks!

  • BrendonBrown

    You probably want to use background images, and have your new one applied (or previous one made to fit) with the sticky class.

  • designcouch

    use a jquery if statement that also gets delayed by .4 seconds (the time the animation in the above-defined CSS takes to complete)

  • designcouch

    Changing alignment is kind of dumb – and it visually interrupts an otherwise smooth animation. Otherwise, this is pretty decent (if a little basic).

  • john

    not sure where i’m supposed to be adding all these different lines of code. I’m using a wordpress theme and am relatively new..
    any help?

  • Arturo

    Thanks very helpful