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 minimum 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 of useful jQuery plugins.
For the ultimate in flexible layouts, Niklas Rämö's Muuri is well worth a look. Its layout system enables you to position grid items of assorted sizes within a container in pretty much any way imaginable, and it's responsive, sortable, filterable and draggable. By default it'll arrange everything in a 'fit first' manner, but you can add your own layout algorithm for a different layout style.
There's nothing like a bit of ultra-smooth scrolling to help your site stand out from the crowd, and AnchorScroll is a lightweight and easy-to-use jQuery plugin for doing just that. It gives you smooth scrolling to anchor targets, with added classes and callbacks to elements on scroll events, and on top of that there's the option to add a blur effect to the body while scrolling, as well as a bounce effect that'll take you back to where you came from after scrolling to an anchor element.
This jQuery plugin offers a twist on the carousel component: Timeline.js provides you with everything you need to create a carousel timeline (i.e. a slider that progresses based on chronological points). It includes plenty of visual and functional customisation options.
This plugin from Pete R. is an excellent way to grab people's attention and add a little extra depth to your site. With it installed, items will tilt into view as they scroll up the page, and tilt again as they scroll out of the top of the page. It's a great-looking effect that's nice and easy to implement.
The great thing about responsive web design is being able to create a single page that'll look good on any device. However if your site's automatically cropping images to fit certain viewports, it can often lose the focal point. With Focuspoint, you can make sure your image looks great in any container by specifying a focal point for each image, and the plugin will crop out unwanted parts before the important bits.
Using SVG images is a good idea because they will look sharp at any size, and this plugin helps you to do that without having to worry about browsers that don't support them. It searches for SVG images and replaces them with PNG versions if SVG isn't supported.
07. Face Detection
Detect and get the coordinates of human faces in images, videos and canvases with this plugin, which was written by Jay Salvat and uses Liu Liu's face detection algorithm.
08. Round Slider
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.
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.
Next: more essential jQuery plugins