CSS Smooth Scroll

By  on  

Improving the user experience of web applications has always been a priority of mine. I always come back to the same though I've had for 20 years: "users expect a web app to work -- let's make the app a joy to use." Over the years we've employed JavaScript to improve the UX, but over time those strategies either become clunky or get baked into the web languages themselves. One such feature is smooth scrolling; a great UX improvement but annoying if imperfect. Did you know that you can implement smooth scrolling with just CSS?

The scroll-behavior CSS property controls the scrolling strategy for overflow elements with scrolling behavior, and only when triggered by navigation or CSSOM properties. The default scroll-behavior value is auto, which represents no visual effect -- immediately scrolling to the target element with no animation. To provide users a smooth scrolling experience, you can use the smooth value:

/* slide between items */
.slideshow ul {
  scroll-behavior: smooth;
}

Of course you do lose some visual control when you use a native browser API -- most notably animation speed and animation curve. On the positive side you don't need to add kilobytes of JavaScript that you need to maintain to achieve a very similar effect!

Recent Features

  • By
    Facebook Open Graph META Tags

    It's no secret that Facebook has become a major traffic driver for all types of websites.  Nowadays even large corporations steer consumers toward their Facebook pages instead of the corporate websites directly.  And of course there are Facebook "Like" and "Recommend" widgets on every website.  One...

  • By
    LightFace:  Facebook Lightbox for MooTools

    One of the web components I've always loved has been Facebook's modal dialog.  This "lightbox" isn't like others:  no dark overlay, no obnoxious animating to size, and it doesn't try to do "too much."  With Facebook's dialog in mind, I've created LightFace:  a Facebook lightbox...

Incredible Demos

  • By
    Using Opacity to Show Focus with jQuery

    A few days back I debuted a sweet article that made use of MooTools JavaScript and opacity to show focus on a specified element. Here's how to accomplish that feat using jQuery. The jQuery JavaScript There you have it. Opacity is a very simple but effective...

  • By
    Chris Coyier’s Favorite CodePen Demos IV

    Did you know you can triple-heart things on CodePen? We’ve had that little not-so-hidden feature forever. You can click that little heart button on any Pen (or Project, Collection, or Post) on CodePen to show the creator a little love, but you can click it again...

Discussion

  1. Nice post! I might also suggest incorporating the prefers-reduced-motion media query to negate smooth scroll effects when the user has indicated a preference for a low-motion experience.

    Larger animated transitions such as full-page scrolling or slideshow motion have been known to be vestibular triggers. Just a touch more CSS and you’re doing a lot to help your users out!

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!