Layered Navigation Using jQuery

Layered navigation, for our purposes, requires the user to click an element, which then displays the next set of elements, until the user selects a specific option which displays new content. This becomes useful when dealing with multiple categories and sub-categories of options. The default behavior is often to link each category and sub-category with the next set of options, which requires a page load with each selection. Using jQuery we can create a layered navigation that does not reload the page until a final option is selected.


In this tutorial our HTML will consist of a <nav> element that contains several <div> elements. We will also include an outer <div> element that creates a button to reset our menu.

See the Pen HTML by Jacob McKinney (@jacobmc) on CodePen.dark

Some things to note here:

  • We have given all <div>s within the <nav> element a class of option.
  • We have also given the first <div> a class of .main, this will be the main element that shows up when our page is first loaded.
  • The next three <div>s have a class of .section which will be used to display them when the main element is clicked. They also each have a unique class (.primary-section, .secondary-section, and .tertiary-section) which will be used to display specific elements when they are clicked.
  • All of the rest of the elements have a class that is shared with the others in its group (.primary, .secondary, .tertiary) and a unique class for that element’s color.



The main CSS to pay attention to here is on the outer <nav> element.

See the Pen CSS by Jacob McKinney (@jacobmc) on CodePen.dark

As commented in the code, you will need to set the #layered-nav element to display: flex and flex-flow: row wrap.

If you choose to not use flex-box you will need to set a specific height and width on #layered-nav and set the .option class to float: left.



The JavaScript for this project makes use of jQuery and is pretty straightforward. First we will create a function to hide all of the elements. Next we will set the default behavior for the navigation on page load using $(document).ready(). Then we will set the .click() behaviors for all elements (including our reset button) and call it a day.

See the Pen JS by Jacob McKinney (@jacobmc) on CodePen.dark

As you can see, we are mostly just making use of jQuery’s built-in .hide() and .show() functions.

First, we built the hideAll() function and just set all elements with the .option class to .hide(). We will use this hideAll() function throughout the rest of our JavaScript code.

We set the navigation’s default behavior using $(document).ready(). First, on page load, we hide all of the elements using hideAll(), then we display the .main element using .show().

Lastly, we define the .click() behavior for all elements. We will begin each .click() function with our hideAll() function to remove all the elements, then we will use .show() to display each section of elements by selecting the appropriate class (.section for the three sub-sections, and .primary .secondary, and .tertiary for the final tier of options)


Final Result

The final project output will look and function similar to this:

See the Pen Result by Jacob McKinney (@jacobmc) on CodePen.dark



Layered navigation can drastically improve a user’s experience on a website or application, while not doing so could drastically diminish a user’s experience, causing them to give up and leave immediately. Using jQuery to accomplish this is very quick and easy, but this could also be accomplished using vanilla JavaScript without increasing the difficulty much.

Feel free to reach out and ask questions in the comments. Now go out there and JavaScript all the things!