But jQuery is also attractive because it offers a wide selection of possible design elements, features and functionality that developers can include on their sites. This can be anything from parallax scrolling to slideshows to responsive text; the possibilities are virtually endless.
Most jQuery plugins aren't necessary, or even all that useful, for every website, since they tend to cover a broad range of objectives, but any developer that wants to create a robust, feature-rich website, or just one that is visually striking, will be able to find at least a couple of plugins that can help him or her do just that.
Here at Website Magazine, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite jQuery plugins for our dear readers to check out, each of which can add distinct elements to a website that help it come to life and appear more engaging to users.
Of course, there are plenty of other jQuery plugins available. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section!
Simple Parallax Scroll
Parallax scrolling is one of the hottest design trends of 2012, and there is no shortage of plugins that can help you achieve this entertaining effect, wherein the background image of a Web page translates slower than the foreground content as a user scrolls. The Simple Parallax Scroll technique by Mohiuddin Parekh is a simple way (it's even in the name) to incorporate this cool feature on your website, and starting engaging more users, in about 20 minutes. And once you have parallax scrolling to show off, you'll be the coolest website in school.
Users are accessing the Internet from a plethora of different devices these days, even more than just five years ago. During that same span of time, images have become the most popular type of content on the Web. Naturally, this has led to a need for responsive image galleries that can be easily viewed and interacted with on any device. However, building one can be difficult because of the myriad factors one must consider, such as layout or features. Fortunately, there is the Gamma Gallery plugin, which takes into account and provides suitable image sizes for fluid grid thumbnails and full image views.
This plugin adds a neat feature to websites that lets developers move elements in a "card-like fashion" (think like holding a hand of playing cards during a game of poker) and spread them out like a deck of cards on a table using CSS transforms to rotate and translate the items. Users aren't just bogged down by one or two spreading options, though; the plugin presents a variety of possibilities, such as moving items laterally or rotating them like a fan. Baraja will provide your website with a unique interactive element to delight and engage your visitors.
A jQuery Heat Map
Heat maps are an excellent way to track website visits and the actions of users on your website. They allow you to follow their clicks and make design changes or decisions based on the actions that most users are likely to make. The jQuery Heat Map is an easy way to create a heat map for a website that tracks clicks and then displays the click pattern using semi-transparent dots on an overlay, so you can quickly identify the most popular aspects of your Web page and fix anything that is being neglected.
jQuery Snow Falling Plugin
Get into the winter spirit - and impress your visitors - with this plugin that adds a snow falling effect to your Web page(s). With this plugin, users create one snowflake initially and then clone that snowflake at a time interval and then add random value properties to each individual flake, all in less than 1 KB minified. The jQuery Snow Falling plugin is an easy way to spruce your page up for the holiday season.
jGravity is an interesting plugin that add "gravity" to elements on a Web page, meaning developers apply a gravity effect that drops all of the selected elements to the bottom of the page. Developers can either add the effect to all of the elements on a page, or choose specific elements to receive the gravity treatment. This is a fun way to add a level of interactivity to your page, but it can also help you highlight important content (or, on the other hand, do away with superfluous content by dropping it down and letting users focus on the important stuff).
Another page element to remember when considering responsive design for a website is text. The WideText plugin offers up a full width responsive text solution that is both lightweight and easy-to-use. Now, you'll never have to worry about visitors seeing your whole message, no matter what device they're viewing it from.
Create visually stimulating, interactive full screen slide shows on your site that you can use to show off your image content with the Superslides plugin. Best of all, this solution was designed with flexibility in mind, so it's highly customizable. It also offers a handful of configurable options, such as auto play with a delay, slide transition speed and slide easing. If your site is heavy on image content, using Superslides is a great way to display it.
Keep your website clutter-free with the pageguide.js plugin, which provides information to users via an interactive visual guide that can teach them about features or functionality. It will attach CSS "pseudo elements" to the features that define your pages, providing numbered arrows on the top, bottom, left or right of what you want to highlight. The guide will even scroll for users. Developers are given control over the style of the guide, and they can track the actions of users by simply including their tracking codes from services like HubSpot or KISSMetrics to find out which aspects of the guide are of greatest interest to their visitors.
Take your images to the next level with the PicStrips plugin, which splits the picture into any number of strips with whitespace between each one. Users are not only able to specify the number of strips they'd like, but also the white space between each one and the vertical whitespace at the top and bottom of alternate strips. This simple alteration helps your pictures stand out from similar content and adds some extra flair that will capture the attention of your audience and give your images new life.