30 Best CSS Techniques for a Unique Navigation

December 23, 2009 • By

CSS is a very important element of what we call a “structurally sound” web design. CSS turns strips of code and interactive features into a working design. This is especially true for CSS based menus. Giving your users a creative way to interact with pages, categories, and other aspects of your site is a great way to keep them coming back. Not only that, but your navigation will be easily accessible since it will stand-out. Your users won’t get lost, they’ll always know how to get to where they need.

If you want to find out the different CSS features you can incorporate into your navigation, it’s important that you view other menus as inspiration, and you know how they work. Below we’ve hand-selected 30 Best CSS Techniques for a Unique Navigation that are sure to bring creativity to your menu.

Advanced CSS Menu

An in-depth, creative navigation tutorial.

Create Vimeo-Like Top Navigation

A top navigation tutorial on virtually the same menu as; structure wise. When you hover over the search box, a drop down menu appears and it gives you a few customizable options.

Overlapping Menu

With this tutorial you’re able to create a menu that overlaps. It’s a pretty nice effect for a unique site.

Centered Tabs with CSS

If you’re looking for an alternative to the sliding doors method, then this centered tab css tutorial is just what you need. It fully centers the tab in you navigation menu, and eliminates those left or right aligned mishaps.

Scalable CSS Based Breadcrumbs

With this navigation technique the usability of your menu can increase. The code is simple and it only uses 6 CSS styles.

CSS Drop-Down Menu Framework

This menu seperates HTML from CSS, and categorizes CSS types. You can create a nice drop-down effect.

Turning a list into a navigation bar

Turn your menu list into a navigation bar with a background image structured through CSS.

Advanced CSS Menu Trick

You can shift the focus of the user’s attention to the menu items you’re not hovering over. It creates a nice blur effect.

JavaScript Dropdown Menu with Multi Levels

This multi-level drop-down menu allows you to define several different sub navigations.

Hidden Tab Menus

This is a simple hidden tab menu that onfolds when you hover over the menu icon.

Inverted Sliding Doors Tabs

Here you’ll find a creative sliding doors technique that lets you work with inverted tabs. Inverted tabs means that the bottom tab of the one you would currently be onis lower and is left or right aligned.

Son of Suckerfish Dropdowns

This is a easy to install and completely accessable dropdown navigation menu. Your menu can also have multiple-levels as well.

MenuMatic: Vertical Menu Example

MenuMatic is a MooTools class that takes a sematic ordered or unordered list of links and turns it into a dynamic drop down menu system.

Circular Menu with Sub-Menus

Nice tutorial for a circular menu that lets you add a sub menu level of smaller icons. It adds a smooth effect to the navigation process.

Sexy Drop Down Menu with jQuery and CSS

With this tutorial you’ll learn how to create a “sexy” drop down menu that will use CSS and jQuery to create a drop down effect.

CSS Sprite Navigation Tutorial : Ehousestudio

This tutorial will help you build a succesful CSS navigation using sprite images. You’ll be able to enhance the load time of your menu as well.

Rounded corner CSS navigation bar with jQuery

You’ll learn how to add some nice round corner effect to your anchor elements with jQuery, for your navigation, without using any image.

Designing the Digg Header

This menu contains a fluid width, and enables you to develop a smooth drop-down effect where you can place emphasis on important sub-menus.

Mac Style Dock Menu Navigation Bar in CSS

This more for those Mac fanatics or if you have an Apple themed site and wish to enhance the look of your site by implementing a menu that fits your overall design.

The Menu menu

This a great CSS menu that “comes to life” after hovering over a menu item, this automatically reveals a sub-menu.

CSS Navigation with Glowing Icons

Here you’ll find a beautiful CSS menu technique for creating glowing icons.

Woody CSS Menu

Woody is a CSS menu that’s simply ready to use and has been tested on several browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox.

CSS Block Navigation Menu

This CSS menu technique allows you to develop a navigation menu that has item with descriptions.

CSS Hover Button

Create CSS button-style navigation menu by checking out this excellent tutorial.

Matte CSS Menu

Matte is a simple CSS menu with rounded corners using two small images only from 13styles.

Fancy Sliding Tab Menu

Beautiful navigation technique that brings down the menu you’re currently on by hovering over the next one.

Aplus ADxMenu

This technique is a pretty basic example of an organized and well designed menu tabs.


DOMtab is a JavaScript that turns a list of links connected to content sections into a tab interface.

Drop Down Menu with Nested Submenus

Create your own drop down menu with nested sub-menus using CSS and a bit of JavaScript.

Nicely Organized Tabed Menu

Example 4 of these menus is a simple, well organized menu that would better fit a solid color layout.