16 brilliant jQuery plugins

jQuery has made web design faster, easier and more accessible. We reveal the best jQuery plugins to save you time and effort.

When John Resig developed the jQuery library back in 2006, he can't have imagined that it would become the most popular JavaScript library on the web, or that it would have tens of thousands of plugins written for it. But it's true to say that jQuery, above all other libraries out there, has been embraced by the web design community.

It is a fantastic library for designing and developing user interactions quickly. Whether it's an image gallery or form, content-revealing CSS animation or an explosion effect, the library provides the core building-blocks to allow you rapid prototyping and to deliver a unique user interface with the minimum of code and effort.

This presents an interesting question, however. Just because you can roll your own solution to any given problem, does that mean you should? Of course not! There's absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel every time you want to create a bit of common functionality; use plugins to instantly add a behaviour. Doing so will save you even more time and effort! Here's our list.

01. Round Slider

The slider can be themed to suit your purposes

This circular slider enables the user to select a range of values by mousing over the circle. The full slider is the default setup, but you can also use it to get quarter-circle, half-circle and pie shapes. There are CSS styles you can adjust to theme it in various ways, for example, to look like a speedometer. No images are involved; it's all made with CSS and JavaScript. 

02. jInvertScroll

Get a parallax effect with ease

jInvertscroll makes it easy to implement horizontal scrolling with a parallax effect. Roll your scroll wheel on their demo site to whizz along sideways while two layers of landscape move at different speeds to create an illusion of depth. 

03. Slinky

jQuery plugins: Slinky

A menu design that won't go out of style?

Slinky is an elegant, timeless menu design that's useful for any scenario in which you've got a lot of sub-menus. Select an item and an animation slides the sub-menu over. There's a demo here.

04. TwentyTwenty

jQuery plugins: TwentyTwenty

ZURB's plugin helps you compare images

Instead of placing two images side-by-side to show the differences between them, you can use this plugin which places one on top of the other. Users drag a slider so that the bottom image shows through, enabling them to see what has changed in a before-and-after situation.

05. Material design hierarchical display

jQuery plugins: hierarchical display

Animations can help to guide users' attention

Hierarchical display animation effects can be used to guide users' attention and lead them from one point to the next in a process. This animation can be customised to suite your design, and has great documentation to get you going.

06. Tabslet

jQuery plugins: Tablset

Minimalist tab design

As the name suggests, Tabslet is a lightweight plugin for making tabs. It supports next/previous controls, rotation, custom events, deep linking and there’s lots of other useful functionality. Have a look at the demo to see if it suits your needs.

07. Readable

jQuery plugins: Readable

Set your text just right

Readable helps to make sure your text blocks stay within the optimum parameters for readability; too narrow or too wide makes your paragraphs harder to scan. There’s a great demo that shows you the edits made to running copy in order to make it easier on the eye.

08. nanoGALLERY

jQuery plugin nanoGALLERY

A fully-featured, fast image gallery

nanoGALLERY is designed to simplify your image galleries. Featuring multi-level navigation in albums, lightbox, combinable hover effects on thumbnails, slideshow, fullscreen, pagination, image lazy load, themes, bootstrap compatibility, deep linking, customizable, i18n, and pulling in Flickr/Picasa/Google+ photo albums among others.

It is touch enabled, responsive, fast and it supports cloud storage.

09. Tooltipster

jQuery plugin Tooltipster

Fancy tooltips with Tooltipster

Tooltipster is a modern take on the classic tool-tip, allowing you to present fully HTML-enabled tooltips in semantic markup with CSS used to control the display. There are a wide range of configuration options, making it customisable for any scenario.

10. Magnific Popup

jQuery plugin Magnific Popup

A lightweight, performant lightbox

This is a lightbox plugin for jQuery that focuses on being as lightweight and compatible as possible. The developer has concentrated on performance and user experience, so it doesn't have all the features of alternative lightbox plugins, but it is super-fast and works perfectly across a huge range of devices, including High-DPI (Retina) devices such as the MacBook Pro.

11. Unslider

jQuery plugin Unslider

A tiny, simple slider

This simple little plugin is an image slider without the bells and whistles. It only slides, but as a consequence it's tiny in size and super-responsive. Slides can contain HTML, be configured with CSS and there's built-in keyboard-control support too.

12. Avgrund Modal

jQuery plugin Avgrund Modal

Modal-window popups with wow-factor

This beautiful modal-window popup adds a bit of wow to your pop-up content by blurring the page content and pushing it back in Z space, before bringing up the modal dialog. A great, lightweight solution to making your alerts really pop.

13. jQuery Knob

jQuery plugin Knob

Touch-friendly dials that also work on the desktop

jQuery Knob takes input elements and converts them into touch-friendly dials that also work on the desktop. This is an excellent example of how you can tailor your content to suit new paradigms, and is worth a look for the technical approach if nothing else.

14. Typeahead.js

jQuery plugin Typeahead

Handy auto-complete tool built by Twitter's dev team

The product of Twitter's development team, Type Ahead is an easy-to-implement tool that pulls from a local or external data source as your user types in to an input box, providing auto-complete suggestions as they go.

15. Lettering.js

jQuery plugin Lettering

Get fine control over your type

Lettering.js provides granular control over individual characters in your type, allowing you to apply kerning, colour individual letters, and apply event-listeners. It also plays nicely with FitText, giving you desktop-style control over your typography while remaining responsive.

16. FitText

jQuery plugin FitText

Automatically scale your text for responsive headlines

This handy plugin allows you to fill your container's width with your type but automatically scaling the text size up or down to suit. Designed to facilitate responsive headlines, the plugin also integrates with Lettering.js to allow for granular per-character styling.

This is an updated version of an article that previously appeared on Creative Bloq.