Create a slider with just CSS

I know what you're thinking. "What do you mean, create a slider with just CSS! Surely you need JavaScript to control the behaviour of the slider?"

Actually, there is a clever way to do this with pure CSS, and not a single line of JS. And yes, that includes navigation buttons and breadcrumbs!

Take a quick look at the result we will get:

See the Pen on CodePen.

Read on to find out how...

Step 1 - create your slider layout

First you need to create a space for your slider to go into, and of course, some slides!

<div class="slider-container">
<div class="slider">
<div class="slides">
<div id="slides__1" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">1</span>
</div>
<div id="slides__2" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">2</span>
</div>
<div id="slides__3" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">3</span>
</div>
<div id="slides__4" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">4</span>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>

So here we have:

  • slider-container is just the element on your site that you want the slider to go in.
  • slider is like the 'screen', or the viewport that will display all your slides.
  • slides will hold your slides. This is the element that actually scrolls to give the slider effect.
  • slide is each individual slide. Note that you need the slide class, and a unique id for each one.

Then we need the CSS:


.slider-container {
background: linear-gradient(149deg, rgb(247, 0, 255) 0%, rgb(255, 145, 0) 100%);
display: flex;
align-items: center;
justify-content: center;
height: 100%;
}

.slider {
width: 100%;
max-width: 600px;
height: 400px;
margin: 20px;
text-align: center;
border-radius: 20px;
position: relative;
}

slider-container can be anything - I've just used a flexbox to make it easy to centre the slider.

slider just sets the size of your slider - you can adjust this to suit your needs.

Next, we'll style the slides element:

.slides {
display: flex;
overflow-x: scroll;
position: relative;
scroll-behavior: smooth;
scroll-snap-type: x mandatory;
}

OK, this is where the magic happens. If we set overflow-x to scroll, anything that doesn't fit in our slider viewport will be accessible only by scrolling.

Setting scroll-behavior to smooth and scroll-snap-type to x mandatory means that if we jump-link to any child element of slides, the browser will scroll to it smoothly, rather than just jumping immediately to that element.

Right, next let's style the slides themselves:

.slide:nth-of-type(even) {
background-color: rgb(250, 246, 212);
}

.slide {
display: flex;
justify-content: center;
align-items: center;
flex-shrink: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 400px;
margin-right: 0px;
box-sizing: border-box;
background: white;
transform-origin: center center;
transform: scale(1);
scroll-snap-align: center;
}

.slide__text {
font-size: 40px;
font-weight: bold;
font-family: sans-serif;
}

Match the size of slide to be the same as slider. The final three properties, transform-origin, transform, and scroll-snap-align, are key. These ensure that when we jump-link to any particular slide, the slide will 'snap' into the middle of the slider viewport.

OK, so far we have this:

put an iframe here showing - step1.html

If you click inside the slider, then press the arrow keys, you'll see the smooth scrolling and snapping behaviour in action.

But of course we don't want our users to have to do this! We want to put some navigation buttons on the slider instead - and we should probably get rid of that scrollbar too!

Step 2 - Adding the slider navigation buttons

In the HTML, I've added two a elements to each slide:

<div class="slider-container">
<div class="slider">
<div class="slides">
<div id="slides__1" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">1</span>
<a class="slide__prev" href="#slides__4" title="Next"></a>
<a class="slide__next" href="#slides__2" title="Next"></a>
</div>
<div id="slides__2" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">2</span>
<a class="slide__prev" href="#slides__1" title="Prev"></a>
<a class="slide__next" href="#slides__3" title="Next"></a>
</div>
<div id="slides__3" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">3</span>
<a class="slide__prev" href="#slides__2" title="Prev"></a>
<a class="slide__next" href="#slides__4" title="Next"></a>
</div>
<div id="slides__4" class="slide">
<span class="slide__text">4</span>
<a class="slide__prev" href="#slides__3" title="Prev"></a>
<a class="slide__next" href="#slides__1" title="Prev"></a>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Note that:

  • The one going backwards has the slide__prev class, and the one going forwards has the slide__next class.
  • the href contains the jump link to the slide we want to move to. You have to set these manually.

Now for the css:

.slide a {
position: absolute;
top: 48%;
width: 35px;
height: 35px;
border: solid black;
border-width: 0 4px 4px 0;
padding: 3px;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

a.slide__prev {
transform: rotate(135deg);
-webkit-transform: rotate(135deg);
left: 5%;
}

a.slide__next{
transform: rotate(-45deg);
-webkit-transform: rotate(-45deg);
right: 5%;
}

You can style and position these buttons however you want - I've chosen to have arrows pointing in each direction. Sometimes the simple option is the best - but you can make your own choice!

Step 3 - Removing the scrollbar with CSS

.slider {
width: 600px;
height: 400px;
text-align: center;
border-radius: 20px;
overflow: hidden;
position: relative;
}

... just add overflow: hidden; to .slider. This also bring the border radius into play.

That gives us this:

put an iframe here showing - step2.html

OK, pretty good - but ideally we don't want the buttons to be locked to each slide. Sliders typically have buttons fixed in place.

But is that possible with CSS?

Why, yes!

Step 4 - Fixing the navigation buttons in place

We don't need to change the HTML for this, but we do need to update our CSS a bit:

.slide a {
background: none;
border: none;
}

a.slide__prev,
.slider::before
{
transform: rotate(135deg);
-webkit-transform: rotate(135deg);
left: 5%;
}

a.slide__next,
.slider::after
{
transform: rotate(-45deg);
-webkit-transform: rotate(-45deg);
right: 5%;
}

.slider::before,
.slider::after,
.slide__prev,
.slide__next
{
position: absolute;
top: 48%;
width: 35px;
height: 35px;
border: solid black;
border-width: 0 4px 4px 0;
padding: 3px;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

.slider::before,
.slider::after
{
content: '';
z-index: 1;
background: none;
pointer-events: none;
}

OK so what's going on here? Well first, we've taken the background and border off of the a element. This makes our buttons effectively invisible.

Then, we've added before and after pseudo elements to slider. These have the same style that we previously had on the a elements - the nice simple arrow. And we've positioned them exactly on top of our now invisible buttons, and set pointer-events to none.

Because they are attached to the slider element and not slide, they will remain fixed in place as the user scrolls through the slides. But... when the user clicks on one, they are actually clicking on the invisible button attached to the actual slide.

This gives the illusion of fixed navigation buttons! Nice eh?

It looks like this:

put an iframe here showing - step3.html

OK, now we've got a pretty good, pure CSS slider!

Aha, I hear you say, but what about breadcrumbs, can we add those too?

Glad you asked - yes we can!

Step 5 - Add breadcrumbs to the slider

To add the breadcrumbs to the slider, we are really using the same techniques we've just been through - just in a slightly different way.

Each breadcrumb will just be another jump link pointing to the relevant slide, and we'll position it absolutely in the slider element.

So here's the HTML (put this in slider, below the slides element):

<div class="slider__nav">
<a class="slider__navlink" href="#slides__1"></a>
<a class="slider__navlink" href="#slides__2"></a>
<a class="slider__navlink" href="#slides__3"></a>
<a class="slider__navlink" href="#slides__4"></a>
</div>

See? Same links as we used before. Now to style it:

.slider__nav {
box-sizing: border-box;
position: absolute;
bottom: 5%;
left: 50%;
width: 200px;
margin-left: -100px;
text-align: center;
}

.slider__navlink {
display: inline-block;
height: 15px;
width: 15px;
border-radius: 50%;
background-color: black;
margin: 0 10px 0 10px;
}

Again, you are free to style these however your heart desires!

And here is the final result:

put an iframe here showing - step4.html

A pretty cool slider, and no JavaScript in sight. Hope that's useful to you!

This is a useful trick that lets you create slider functionality - even for people with JS turned off. But of course, without JS, you're really limited in what you're able to do and how you can integrate it with your existing site.

If you wanted to harness the power of JS to create beautiful, responsive, full-page sliders, check out fullPage.js. It's got slider functionality right out of the box, and includes support for:

  • Breadcrumb navigation - which you can move around and style easily
  • Autoplay - so your visitors get to see more of your awesome content even if they don't click the navigation buttons!
  • Lazy loading - speed up your site by only loading assets when needed
  • Lots, lots more

It's also super-easy to set up - so give it a try!

About the author:

Warren is a front end developer based in the UK.
You can find more from him at https://warrendavies.net