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8 CSS & JavaScript Code Examples for Creating Interactive Timelines

By
on CSS & JavaScript

When trying to get your point across to users, serving them up mountains of text just isn’t effective. People are looking for instant gratification, and most won’t stick around to read long passages. We can better spark their interest through compelling visuals.

Timelines are among the more popular visual elements we have at our disposal. A good one can present a story in an easy-to-follow and interactive manner. They gently grab a user’s attention and invite them to participate in the experience.

And it’s no surprise that, as CSS and JavaScript are becoming ever more powerful, timelines are popping up all over the place. These technological advances mean easier implementation and a more compelling visual.

That gives us the perfect opportunity to share some top examples of timelines that are both attractive and engaging.

Bringing History into Focus by Stefan Kyurkchiev

One potential pitfall of a content-heavy timeline is that all of its entries can get bunched together. This makes it difficult to give each item the focus it deserves.

This example takes a unique approach, where each entry’s image is faded until it comes to the top of the viewport via scroll. Once that occurs, the image is fully realized, thus allowing the entry some time to shine.

See the Pen timeline by Stefan Kyurkchiev.

Post Up by Tracy Tung

A timeline can be used to display all sorts of chronological or even categorized content. Here, this attractive date-based layout is used to list blog posts. The format is simple and easy to follow. It offers a different perspective on the standard vertical listing of posts.

See the Pen Posts Timeline by Tracy.

Change Your View by Sean

Let’s look at another unique method for displaying lots of information in a limited space. What’s great about this example is how versatile it is. You can navigate via keyboard, drag, or click. Then there is the ability to zoom in or out of the listings and rewind things back to the beginning.

Not only does it look great, but it also gives users some choice in how they interact.

See the Pen Centennial Timeline by Sean.

Look Behind the Door by Alejandro Santacroce

Sometimes the most interesting examples are the ones that look nothing like you’d expect. We’ve come to see timelines as very linear, with text or images jutting out from a line of some sort.

Here, not so much. Instead, we have a series of tall, skinny panels. Hovering over a panel reveals a full-color image and some text. Even more impressive is that it was all done with pure HTML and CSS.

See the Pen WIE_ Box Slider (4 Panel Timeline CSS) by Alejandro Santacroce.

Learn as You Scroll by Stefan Tudoran

Scroll-based animations are a big deal these days. And it makes perfect sense that some of the best timeline examples we found integrate them to some degree. This summary of the great Albert Einstein’s life features some slick animations, thanks to jQuery.

It makes the user experience feel a bit more interactive and just flows along naturally with the content.

See the Pen jQuery Scrollable timeline (Responsive design) by Stefan Tudoran.

Going In-Depth by Mees

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much behind this look at artists in Amsterdam. However, click on one of the artists, and you’re taken to a page that features a second timeline displaying their works. The timeline format works beautifully here, complementing the overall aesthetic.

See the Pen Timeline of artists in Amsterdam by Mees.

The Beauty of Simplicity by Adhitama Fikri

There’s still much to be said for simple solutions. After all, not everything has to knock the user’s socks off. This Vue.js-based example isn’t overdone in the least. But what it does offer is an interactive way to navigate through a listing of important events. It’s fast, legible, and intuitive. What more could you want?

See the Pen Horizontal Timeline by Adhitama Fikri.

Top of the Charts by Milan Milošev

Finally, let’s explore another unexpected type of setup. This horizontal timeline is reminiscent of a chart or graph.

Again, it’s very simplistic in design. But that also means that you won’t struggle to discern one entry from another, as each is on its own line. Text is also kept to a minimum, with hyperlinks being used to lead us to more information.

See the Pen Horizontal Life Timeline by Milan Milošev.

All Kinds of Time

One thing the examples above show is that timelines can be incredibly versatile. They can be anything from a minimally formatted layout all the way to a fully animated and interactive experience.

So, no matter the type of information you’re looking to display or your personal style, odds are that one of these snippets will be the perfect fit.