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Creating a Floating Icon Menu

dcodeyt profile image Dom (dcode) ・3 min read

In today's post, I wanted to demonstrate just how easy it is to create an icon-based, floating navigation menu for your web projects.

Video Tutorial

If you prefer this tutorial in video form, check it out on my YouTube channel, dcode:

Step 1: Choosing an Icon Library

If you're already using an icon library for your project, feel free to skip this step. For those who aren't, I recommend using something like Google Material Icons as they are super easy to set up and use.

You can start using the library by including it in the <head>:

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/icon?family=Material+Icons" rel="stylesheet" />

Step 2: Adding the HTML

We're going to be using the <nav> element with a class of .nav to represent the menu. Within it, we can specify our icon-links:

<nav class="nav">
    <a href="#" class="nav__link">
        <i class="material-icons nav__icon">dashboard</i>
        <span class="nav__text">Dashboard</span>
    </a>
    <!-- ... and more links below -->
</nav>

As we can see, for each link we are using <a class="nav__link">, and from within those, we have the following elements:

  • <i class="material-icons nav__icon">[icon_name]</i> - this is to display an icon of your choice. In this case, I chose to use the dashboard icon. You can find more icons here.
  • <span class="nav__text"> - this one is quite self explanatory, we're simply choosing which text to display under the icon.

After adding the HTML, you should have something like this:
After-HTML Preview

Step 3: Adding the CSS

Here is where everything is going to fall into place - we're going to be using CSS to position the menu at the bottom of the page, and floating on top of everything else.

Styling the menu

Using position: fixed will ensure the menu floats above everything else on the page, and a bottom: 0 will move it to the bottom:

body {
    margin: 0 0 55px 0;
}

.nav {
    position: fixed;
    bottom: 0;
    width: 100%;
    height: 55px;
    box-shadow: 0 0 3px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2);
    background-color: #ffffff;
    display: flex;
    overflow-x: auto;
}

We're using display: flex here so we can easily lay out the individual icon-links in the next step, and an overflow-x: auto allows the user to scroll left and right in cases where there are too many icons on a smaller-width device.

You may have also noticed the margin on the <body> - this is set to be 55px on the bottom, which is the same height set for the menu, and will ensure none of the existing body content gets hidden under it.

Styling the icon-links

This will definitely be the largest ruleset in the tutorial so let's write the CSS and then go through the important ones individually:

.nav__link {
    display: flex;
    flex-direction: column;
    align-items: center;
    justify-content: center;
    flex-grow: 1;
    min-width: 50px;
    overflow: hidden;
    white-space: nowrap;
    font-family: sans-serif;
    font-size: 13px;
    color: #444444;
    text-decoration: none;
}

.nav__link:hover {
    background-color: #eeeeee;
}

Let's take a look at the important properties:

  • display: flex - allows us to align the icon and label in the centre, and works with align-items: center; and justify-content: centre
  • flex-grow: 1 - ensures each icon will try to take up equal width
  • flex-direction: column - ensures the icon and label are on top of each other, as opposed to side-by-side
  • white-space: nowrap - ensures the label will not flow onto a new line

You should now see something like this:

After Initial CSS

Final touch - the "active" link

With this solution, we can also represent a link as being the "active view/page" or something of that nature. Let's add a modifier class in the CSS:

.nav__link--active {
    color: #009579;
}

Then, we can add it to one of the links in HTML:

<a href="/profile" class="nav__link nav__link--active">

This gives us something like this:

With active link

And that's it! If anyone has any questions or suggestions, please leave them below 😁

Posted on by:

dcodeyt profile

Dom (dcode)

@dcodeyt

Web Developer from Australia that runs the YouTube Channel 'dcode'!

Discussion

markdown guide
 

I liked that you recommended Google Material Icons. I'm using materialdesignicons.com for community ones. :)

 

Very nice tutorial, especially the use bof material icons. I will like like to know if the position property is necessary, given that you could position everything very well using the flex properties and msrgins. Please am a learner , am just asking

 

You could very well build this using Flex as well.
Make your body the flex container with flex direction set to column, have the content in an element that has flex grow, and then the the footer with the icons will always be kept at the bottom.

If you'd like the menu to stay on the screen at all times, make the content element scrollable, and it'll maintain it's height to screen height (minus the footer).

Unfortunately I'm not at my computer at the moment so I can't whip up the exact code samples.