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Use Superfish for accessible menus Build Wordpress Themes

Menus are powerful features of a website, but are often fully accessible only using a mouse. For mos… Show More

WordPress: Building Themes from Scratch Using Underscores

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Video: Use Superfish for accessible menus Build Wordpress Themes

Menus are powerful features of a website, but are often fully accessible only using a mouse. For most menus, keyboard controls, as well as other means, cannot access the drop-down items. Superfish is a jQuery plugin that solves this problem. This lesson demonstrates using Superfish for accessible menus. You will learn where to download Superfish, as well as how to customize it for your Wordpress site.
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  1. 10m 55s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. What to know before you start this course
      2m 40s
    3. How this course and the lesson files work
      3m 12s
    4. Introducing Simone: A preview of the final project
      3m 59s
  2. 21m 28s
    1. Installing and running WordPress on your computer
      3m 53s
    2. Getting and installing Underscores
      4m 11s
    3. Installing WordPress Theme Unit Test data
      4m 18s
    4. Installing the Developer plugin
      2m 58s
    5. Installing and setting up NetBeans or another IDE
      6m 8s
  3. 16m 15s
    1. Designing for mobile, content, and style
      4m 52s
    2. How do WordPress themes work?
      4m 48s
    3. Understanding the WordPress template hierarchy
      2m 19s
    4. Underscores: An overview
      4m 16s
  4. 37m 5s
    1. Setting up style.css
      4m 47s
    2. Configuring baseline settings and functions
      6m 6s
    3. Enabling custom fonts and font icons
      5m 44s
    4. Applying global styles
      5m 11s
    5. Styling basic layout components
      6m 19s
    6. Making the site layout responsive
      8m 58s
  5. 23m 18s
    1. Styling the default header
      6m 25s
    2. Hiding the site title and tagline
      5m 32s
    3. Adding an optional header image function
      5m 23s
    4. Placing the header image behind the site title
      5m 58s
  6. 40m 55s
    1. Setting up menus
      3m 12s
    2. Styling the menu
      7m 42s
    3. Using Superfish for accessible menus
      8m 0s
    4. Making the menu responsive
      7m 3s
    5. Creating a custom social media menu
      5m 51s
    6. Styling the menu with icons from Font Awesome
      9m 7s
  7. 18m 9s
    1. Adding the search form
      6m 27s
    2. Adding the search icon
      6m 55s
    3. Adding show/hide functionality to the search form with jQuery
      4m 47s
  8. 33m 20s
    1. Adding a widgetized area to the footer
      7m 10s
    2. Using the Monster widget plugin to test all widgets
      2m 11s
    3. Styling the footer
      3m 6s
    4. General widget styling
      5m 33s
    5. Adding custom styles to specific widgets
      7m 34s
    6. Using Masonry to make footer widgets responsive
      7m 46s
  9. 54m 49s
    1. Changing the Single Post Template content structure
      5m 54s
    2. Changing the output of meta elements
      7m 2s
    3. Styling the Single Post Template
      7m 57s
    4. Making post meta responsive
      6m 21s
    5. Styling blockquotes
      5m 39s
    6. Creating pull quotes and pull images
      5m 1s
    7. Working with image captions
      4m 27s
    8. Working with image galleries
      4m 57s
    9. Single-post navigation
      7m 31s
  10. 30m 23s
    1. Working with the comments template
      8m 42s
    2. Using Gravatars in comments
      2m 42s
    3. Styling comments
      7m 26s
    4. Highlighting post author comments
      3m 36s
    5. Styling the comment form and messages
      7m 57s
  11. 18m 43s
    1. How do featured images (post thumbnails) work?
      2m 57s
    2. Defining featured image sizes
      3m 30s
    3. Generating new featured images with a plugin
      1m 46s
    4. Adding featured images to a template
      5m 7s
    5. Styling the featured image
      5m 23s
  12. 1h 2m
    1. The index template hierarchy
      2m 21s
    2. Customizing and styling index templates
      10m 10s
    3. Displaying excerpts or full content on index pages
      3m 6s
    4. Adding a custom Read More link
      3m 48s
    5. Adding featured images
      4m 0s
    6. Creating custom pagination navigation
      6m 4s
    7. Highlighting Sticky Posts
      2m 55s
    8. Creating custom post format templates
      5m 30s
    9. Highlighting the most recent post in the index template
      7m 22s
    10. Embracing modular design
      2m 29s
    11. Working with archive.php
      5m 54s
    12. Customizing the search results and the 404 template
      8m 28s
  13. 9m 7s
    1. Styling pages
      3m 4s
    2. Creating custom page templates
      6m 3s
  14. 4m 30s
    1. Adding editor styles to match front-end styles
      4m 30s
  15. 2m 20s
    1. Further learning
      2m 20s

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Using Superfish for accessible menus
Video Duration: 8m 0s 6h 23m Advanced


Menus are powerful features of a website, but are often fully accessible only using a mouse. For most menus, keyboard controls, as well as other means, cannot access the drop-down items. Superfish is a jQuery plugin that solves this problem. This lesson demonstrates using Superfish for accessible menus. You will learn where to download Superfish, as well as how to customize it for your Wordpress site.

View Course Description

Ready for your next WordPress challenge? Learn how to build more complex custom themes using the _s (aka Underscores) starter theme. Morten Rand-Hendriksen takes you from basic layout and customization to enabling advanced responsive design and accessibility features. He reinforces the basics lessons with DRY (don't repeat yourself) development practices and a structured approach that will help you build WordPress themes that meet modern standards. Plus, he'll explore core concepts like understanding the WordPress template hierarchy, creating functions, adding custom JavaScript, applying styles, and more.

Topics include:
  • Installing WordPress, Underscores, plugins, and NetBeans
  • Designing for mobile, content, and style
  • Setting up the basic theme
  • Building a custom header
  • Designing responsive, accessible menus
  • Adding a custom search form
  • Using and styling widgets
  • Adjusting the Single Post Template
  • Working with comments, featured images, index templates, and static pages
  • Adding editor styles to match front-end styles
WordPress underscores

Using Superfish for accessible menus

Now that we've carefully styled our menu, it looks exactly the way we want, and it also works really well as long as we're using a mouse. The problem is if you try to navigate this menu using other means, let's say a keyboard. You'll see that although I can navigate the main menu, when I get to the menu items that have drop down items like about the test or level one. I can't access the drop down items and this is a very common problem you'll run into all over the web all of the time. Menus are great as long as you're using a mouse, but they're not very accessible.

So we need to make our menus accessible because we don't know how people are going to access this theme. They may use a mouse, but they may also use a keyboard or a text-to speech browser or something else. Or they may just have trouble using their mouse. because for example, if you try to navigate to the sub-menu here. And you're not careful you might drop the menu before you get to it. So it's actually really annoying to work with if you don't have a very adequate mouse or if you have reduced motor skills. A lot of work has been done on making menus responsive and the best solution I've been able to find is one called Super Fish.

Now Superfish is a extended version of a JavaScript library called Suckerfish, which creates drop down menus using jQuery. And Superfish adds additional accessibility tools on top of Suckerfish. Which is why it's a Superfish. Superfish is published under the MIT license and is free to use. So, you can simply go to this website and then download it. So go to download and then download the zip archive. And I've already downloaded it to my computer and extracted it on my desktop.

So here I have the folder. That comes from Superfish. It's called Superfish Master. And inside you have lots of files. So the only file we actually need here is under the dist folder and under js and it's called Now I'm going to take this file and copy it into my theme. So here I have my WordPress install on the right. Then I'm going to go to WP content > Themes > my simone > JS. And here, I'm going to copy superfishmn.js and paste it into my theme, so that it becomes available to the theme.

Next, I need to make my theme load up the Superfish JavaScript. And any time you're loading up a JavaScript, you should always en-queue the JavaScript. And we're going to do that from functions.php. So here I'll scroll down to the en queue section. And you'll remember, this is where we on queued our customs fonts previously, and those were styles. But now we're going to en queue a script instead. And we already have a couple of scripts en queue, so we can see what they look like. Here we have the function call, wp enqueue_script. It's followed by name for the script.

Then, the location of the script, then you can provide an array of dependencies and you'll see in a second what that means. And then, you can provide a version number and whether or not you want the script to load in the header or the footer. If the last value is set to false, it'll load in the header. If it's set to true, it'll load in the footer. And in most cases you want JavaScript to load in the footer. Now we're going to enqueue Superfish. So if you go to the code snippets and you copy out the first code snippet here. This is the script that will enqueue Superfish.

So here I'll place it directly above my samone navigation. Because this is also related to navigation. And here you'll see that I set the handle for this enqueue function to my_simone_superfish. I am calling the JS folder and superfish.min.js. This script depends on JQuery. So I've set JQuery as a dependency and I'm going to set the version number to today's date. So that's 2014/04/04. And finally, I'm loading the script in the footer. Now I can save functions on PHP.

And go back to my browser and I have to make sure that the script is loading properly now, so that my on Q function works. So, reload the page and then I will click anywhere and inspect element to open the developer tools. And here I will go to Resources> Frames > Local Hosts. Scripts and see if superfish min .js appears. And it does which means we now have it enqueueed into our site. But now super fish just sits there and does nothing. We need to actively tell it what to do.

So to do that, we need to create a new JavaScript. That explains true Superfish exactly what we want it to do. The way Superfish works is, we tell it which unordered list is the menu. And then, it applies a bunch of JavaScript and styles within that unordered list. So first we need to find the name of our menu. So right click on any of the menu elements here. And look at my menu here and then you see that the outermost unordered list has the class nav-menu.

So that's the class that we want to target. Now I need to go back to WordPress, and here I have to create a new file. So I'll go to the JS folder. And here, I'll create a new file by right-clicking on the folder. So selecting New, and I want to create a Java script file. So I'm going to call this file superfish settings. And this file is now going to contain the superfish settings. I've already prepared the settings for you, so. You can go back to the code snippets and here you have the superfish-settings.js script.

And I'll copy it and paste it in and then I'll explain to you exactly how this works. In this file we start off by saying this is the jQuery function. We set a variable called SF, which is a super fish variable. And we say that that variable is matching the UL, so the unordered list, with the class nav menu. So that, you'll remember, is the unordered list that wraps the entire menu. Then we say, on this item, so on the variable SF, run superfish. And you set the delay to 200 and the speed to fast.

I'll show you what that means in one second. So I'm going to save this file, now we have the settings for Superfish. But of course, they live in a separate file here. So we need to en queue that file as well. So I'll go back to functions.php, and I'll go back to my code snippets, and copy out the second function here. And paste it in directly below my simone superfish. And here I'll show you something really neat. So here I'm enqueuing a new script called my simone superfish settings. It works the same way, here we have a template directory, and we're calling js superfish settings.

But then in my dependencies I've made this script dependent on the previous one we created. My simone superfish so that I know that when the first one loads the second one will load too. Now I can save functions.php. Notice all I did was create that JavaScript file, target the ul with a class. And we will now go back to our menu and reload the page. You'll see two things. First of all, when I hover over a menu item, you notice there's a short delay in how the menu item is loaded.

And if I go out of it, it takes a little while before it collapses. So this addresses that issue I was talking about where you accidentally leave the menu. And this is that value that was saying delay. And also how fast it operates. So here you can go back to your settings and if you want the delay to be longer you just increase the number here. And if you want the speed of the fade in and out to be slower, you can just change it from fast to slow. But more importantly, if I now use my keyboard to navigate through my menu. You'll see when we get to a drop down menu, the drop down opens.

And now we can go through each of the menu items. And, when we get to a drop down menu with a submenu, then we can go through those items. So now, we have a fully accessible menu all thanks to Superfish.

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