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Build an Incredible Login Form With jQuery

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Read Time: 13 min

One struggle that still remains today in web design is displaying all of the redundant information on every page. For example, a login form. What if there was a way to easily make the content accessible on every page, but keep it hidden until needed? Well you can, by making a top panel that when clicked, will reveal its self and its content. But we need to make this look nice, so we'll also animate it.

In this tutorial, we'll create a sliding panel, that slides in to reveal more
content, using JQuery to animate the height of the panel. In this case, we will
be creating a hypothetical login for the new tutsplus area that's coming soon.

Step 1 - Photoshop Layout

First we need to plan out our layout and make it look cool with Photoshop. Thanks
to Collis, and his amazing Photoshop skills, we have a slick layout to work with.
You can grab the before and after PSD file for further inspection in the source
zip file. But it's pretty self-evident. It doesn't have any gradients either, so
we should be able to make this fairly easily just with CSS.

BeforeBeforeBefore width="600" height="400">

Here you can see what the demo will look like in its normal state.

AfterAfterAfter width="600" height="400">

Here is what the demo will look like when the panel is slid down.

Step 2 - Planning the structure

First off, we need to build the page's structure. To create the layout above,
what do we all need structurally in the HTML?

  • First off, we need a header, that extends across the entire width of the page.
  • We'll also need a top panel, which for now, we will pretend is permanently expanded
    until we insert the JQuery.
  • We'll need an area for the normal page content.
  • Finally we'll need a visual break between the header and page content, which
    we will accomplish through a horizontal ruler (hr).
  • Alright, so the layout of the page is pretty simple. Here it is:

    Wow...without classes or any content inside, it looks like a lot of pointless divs,
    but all will be necessary for the CSS and JQuery later on. Now we will start adding
    classes in preparation for the CSS.

    Step 3 - CSS preparation: Classes & ID's

    Now we've got to change the skeleton into an actual site with CSS. We'll
    start by adding classes and ID's to all of those divs! You can do this easily
    by printing out the Photoshop layout and then marking up the areas and associated
    classes with a sharpie. For this demonstration, I will do the same only in Photoshop.
    Although it may be extremely ugly, hopefully it will show you the different regions
    of the page.

    AreasAreasAreas width="600" height="400">

    Note: I plan on having the normal non-highlighted image on hover.

    Here is the page with the added classes and ID's:

    Right now, I'd show you a screenshot of what we have so far, but we don't
    have anything except a horizontal ruler and two unstyled links. You get the idea.
    Now we can style the page.

    Step 4 - Linking the files together

    Before we go any further though, we need to introduce the CSS file to the skeleton.
    I created a stylesheet entitled "style.css". While we're adding code
    to the head, we might as well add the javascript and jQuery as well. Here is the
    head of the page:

    Step 5 - Styling the Skeleton: header

    Now we have to style that skeleton of divs. Let's start from the top down. First
    we need to style the header as well as the body tag:

    Fortunately, we have no gradients to worry about here. But we do still have a background
    image. I also added a 1px border to the bottom of the header for a visual break.

    The background image is optional. I liked the Bell Gothic BT font so much, I decided
    to make it into an image. Alternatively, you can choose to just style plain text
    by adding styling to h1, and h2 tags:

    And then modifying the header to this:

    So now the page should look like this:

    You can view step 5 here.

    step 5step 5step 5 width="472" height="269">

    Step 6 - Styling the Horizontal Ruler

    Although we have the bottom border of the header to visually separate the sections,
    we also need a thicker more visual border as well. Since we cannot apply two bottom
    borders to the header, we can just stylize the horizontal ruler (hr):

    We now have a thicker separation to add to the 1px border:

    step6step6step6 width="438" height="233">

    You can view step 6 here.

    Step 7 - Styling the Panel

    Now we need to stylize the panel. Until we add the JQuery, we're going to stylize
    the panel like it was expanded. When we're done with the CSS, we're going
    to animate the height of the panel to zero, and then back to full height; so we
    need to make sure that when we change the height, it stays the same.

    Here is the CSS code, I'll explain it afterwards:

    step7step7step7 width="600" height="399" />

    Ok, that's a lot of code for one box. Well it's more than that. Try inspecting
    it with either Firefox Extension Firebug or Web Developer, and you will see what
    all that CSS does.

    Check out what Step 7 currently
    looks like.

  • First off, we need the panel to be positioned absolute, or else, when expanded,
    it will push all of the content below it, down. So we add a wrapper, which is wrapped
    around everything else, and then centered. If we left the wrapper out, the panel,
    which is positioned absolute, would not be able to be centered as easily.
  • Next, we add the style info for the toppanel as a whole. As you can see, this includes
    the panel buttons.
  • After that, we add the style info for just the panel which is hidden normally. This
    is the box that you see expaned now. I made the height 100%, so that if we increase
    or decrease the height of #toppanel, then the height of the #panel will be the same.
    Also, the overflow is hidden, so that if the height of the #toppanel is lowered,
    it will cut of the content of the panel.
  • If you examine the earlier HTML, you will see the div with the ID of panel_contents.
    This div, although empty, allows us to have the background transparent, while still
    keeping the content inside opaque.

  • Step 8 - Add content to the Panel

    Before we test out the panel, we need to add some content, to see if it hides it
    properly. In this example, we are making a login area, so we need to add a form,
    and we're also adding an image to balance it. This step is just to add content
    for the demo. It is less important and is more basic, so I will not explain it as
    much as everything else. Here is the code:



    step8step8step8 width="600" height="409">

    Step 8 is available here.

    Step 9 - Test out the CSS

    We now need to make sure that if we use jQuery to animate the height of the top
    panel, it will work smoothly. Now that we have content, we are going to change the
    height of #panel to 200 and see what happens:


    Wonderful. You can view step 9 here.
    Now we're going to change it to 0:

    step9step9step9 width="600" height="241">

    Perfect. Now we know that the design will work with JQuery.

    Step 10 - Styling the Button

    If you examine the finished product, you can see that the button that slides the
    panel down, changes once you click it once. This means it toggles. Therefore, we
    need two buttons, and we will toggle their visibility. Before we hide one of them,
    though, we need to add CSS to them.

    If you remember, we added the class ".panel_button" to them. Here is the
    style information. I will explain it after:

    101010 width="414" height="247">

    Step 10 Panel Buttons

  • First we center the button using the auto margin technique. Then we position it
    and add a background of the button. We also add all of that styling information
    to accodmodate for all of the different browser's preferences. And make the
    button seem clickable by making the cursor a pointer, when you hover over it. This
    just improves the usability.
  • We're also going to wrap the text in a link, to provide an on hover effect,
    as well as positioning.

  • Step 11 - Button HTML

    Now, in preparation for the JQuery, we need to set up the buttons, with their HTML.
    First off we're going to add an image to each button, and position it with CSS,
    you'll see the HTML in a second:

    Now, we also need to hide the Hide button for now. As much as I hate, inline styling,
    I think it is just easier to add this CSS inline, so here is the new HTML code for
    the buttons, with the images:

    Ok, so notice, right now, the hide button is hidden with inline styling. This will
    be toggled later with jQuery. Notice, I also added an ID to the second button, so
    we can target it later easily.

    111111 width="381" height="313">

    Step 11 Panel Button

    Step 12 - Adding the Content

    This is a quick, but necessary step, adding content. I wrote one sentence and added
    one paragraph of dummy text. I centered it using the auto margin technique, and
    colored it a gray color:

    121212 width="498" height="257">

    See the text behind the panel in Step 12.

    Step 13 - JQuery Time!

    Ok, now for the final part of the tutorial, JQuery! You can grab the latest JQuery
    at If you're just beginning with it, be sure to check out this other
    Nettuts tutorial by Jeffrey Way, for great JQuery resources. I've already grabbed
    a copy from, and have already linked it to the page in Step 4.

    Step 14 - Think about what we need

    Lets first think about what we need the JQuery to do, before we write the code.

  • We want to activate the animation on 'div.panel_button' click.
  • We then want to animate the height of the panel to 400px.
  • We then want to toggle the button.
  • Then we want to activate the reverse animation on 'div#hide_button' click.
  • Then we want to animate the height back to 0px

  • Step 15 - Write the Code

    So first we start out by getting the script ready with the following JQuery:

    BeforeBeforeBefore width="600" height="300">

    Panel in motion in Step 15.

    At first, when you examine the previous code, some of you might wonder why I only
    have toggle in the first action. Well, you need to remember that the hide button
    also has a class of panel_button. Therefore, when you click the 'Hide"
    button, you are actually applying both actions.

    Step 16 - Making the animation look 'real'

    So now it's looking pretty good, but we can still do more; like making the animation
    look better. When animating, it's usually important to try to imitate real life
    as much as possible. In this case, I think of a real life example, like a pull-down
    projection screen. Remember when you pull those, you pull it further down then it
    will be, then it goes back up a little. In the same way, when you want to put it
    back up, you pull it down a little before it goes up very fast.

    Let's try to imitate that:

    Notice that we animate the panel to a height of 500 before going to 400. We also
    added a difference of speed like in real life, by making certain parts slower. If
    you look at the demo you will see that when you hide the panel, it still goes to
    500 first. Again, this is because both buttons have the same class. So really when
    you hide the panel, it goes through this process:

  • Animate to 500 and toggle
  • Animate back to 400 fast
  • Animate back to 0 fast
  • Now we have a working Sliding Panel using JQuery. Hope you found this tutorial to
    be useful! If so, please submit it to Digg, StumbleUpon, DZone, etc!

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