Interactive hamburger menu using CSS

Wednesday 04. May 2016

Animations are funny, and I think it really provides the user with an engaged immersive experience at low cost to the developer. In this post I’ll quickly share a snippet that’s very common at my current company1, which you could easily incorporate into your next design.

To see a demo of what I’m going to discuss, click here.

We’re going to make an interactive hamburger menu which turns into an arrow when it’s been activated. We’ll do this using css and very minimal javascript (all we need javascript for is to add a class to the DOM element).

To accomplish this we’re going to use absolutely positioned elements inside a relative container, like so:

    <figure class="hamburger-menu">
      <i class="line"></i>
header { background: #333; }
.hamburger-menu { 
  position: relative; 
  width: 25px;
  height: 26px;
.hamburger-menu i { 
  position: absolute; 
  height: 3px;
  width: 100%;
  background: white;
  top: calc(50% - 3px); 

This places a horizontal line squarely in the middle of your figure container (whose width you’re free to decide for yourself). We create the last two lines using CSS pseudo elements, like this:

i:before, i:after {
  position: absolute;
  width: 100%;
  height: 3px;
  background: #fff;
  content: '';
  top: -7px;
  transition: transform 300ms ease-out;

i:after { top: 7px; }

The lines above is shifted by -7 pixels, and the one to appear below our centered line is shifted by 7 pixels. Thus, we’ve created our hamburger menu, success! Now, let’s make it fancy.

.hamburger-menu:hover i:before{
  transform: translate3d(0, -2px, 0);
.hamburger-menu:hover i:after{
  transform: translate3d(0, 2px, 0);

Now the lines above and below are shifted slighty away from the center whenever the user hovers our menu, which is a good signal that the icon is indeed interactive, and should incentivise the user to click it. If you’re wondering why we’re using translate3d as opposed to for instance translateY (which would require only the Y-axis argument), this is because elements that are transformed using the Z-axis (the final argument to translate3d) are rendered using the GPU, rather than the CPU, making for a smoother animation.

Anyway, we still need to transform our hamburger menu into an arrow whenever the user has clicked it. That’s actually surprisingly easy. i {
  transform: rotate(-90deg) translateZ(0);
} i:before {
  transform: rotate(45deg) scaleX(.75) translate3d(7px, -4px, 0);
} i:after {
  transform: rotate(-45deg) scaleX(.75) translate3d(7px, 4px, 0);

The first statement flips all the three elements negative 90 degrees, meaning that the horizontal lines are now all vertical (a counter-clockwise vertical flip). The upper line is then rotated 45 degrees clockwise, and the bottom line 45 degrees counter-clockwise, to create the point of the arrow.

Finally the lines are shifted so their points intersect with the center line at its apex, once more accomplished using translate3d.

To see the final result, click here (same link as the beginning of the post).

But there’s one small step remaining: you still need to add the active class to the hamburger menu when someone clicks it! This is easily done using either jQuery (why not make your own while you’re at it?) or even the native DOM APIs.

import $ from './fquery';

$('.hamburger-menu').on('click', e => {

And just like that you’re done, give yourself a pat on the back.