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How to Create a Responsive Material UI Navbar

Introduction

The effectiveness of a website’s navigation directly influences user engagement and satisfaction. A well-crafted navigation system not only aids users in finding what they’re looking for but also enhances their overall user experience. In contrast, confusing or convoluted navigation can lead to frustration, high bounce rates, and missed opportunities. Navigation serves multiple purposes. It organizes content hierarchies, provides access to essential pages, and encourages user actions. Moreover, it contributes significantly to the overall aesthetic appeal of a website. The first impression often begins with the navigation bar, and a visually appealing and functional navigation system can set the tone for a positive user experience. So let’s discover the Material UI Navbar.

Material UI is a popular and robust React component library that provides an array of pre-built elements and design guidelines. It’s an open-source project developed by Google that takes inspiration from their Material Design language. Material UI has gained prominence in the world of web development, thanks to its ease of use, flexibility, and the polished, modern look it imparts to websites. In the following sections, we’ll delve into the practical aspects of implementing Material UI Navbars in your React project, enabling you to elevate your website’s navigation to new heights.

Understanding Material UI Navbar

Material UI, a popular React component library, provides a comprehensive toolkit for crafting visually appealing and highly functional navbars, it also provides you with an array of components to create a standout navbar that seamlessly integrates into your React project. Some of the core components for building a Material UI navbar include:

Key Concepts and Principles
Material UI follows Google’s Material Design principles, emphasizing clarity, hierarchy, and consistency. Here’s a table outlining some of the key concepts and principles related to Material UI navbars:

Elevation

Material UI uses elevation to create depth and separation between elements, ensuring a visually appealing navbar.

Color Palette

Material UI offers a predefined color palette, helping you maintain a consistent and pleasing color scheme for your navbar.

Responsive Design

Material UI components are inherently responsive, ensuring your navbar adapts to various screen sizes.

Accessibility

Material UI is committed to accessibility, making it easy to create navbars that are user-friendly for all.

Setting Up the Navbar

Now that you have a fair idea about Material UI, You can go ahead to create one within your React Project, from here we will look at the step-by-step guide for integrating Material UI in React Project and using Material UI Navbars and its various features in our project.

Step 1: Create a New React Project

If you haven’t already, start by creating a new React project. You can do this by running the following command using create-react-app:

npx create-react-app my-material-ui-navbar-project

This command will set up a new React project in a directory called my-material-ui-navbar-project.

Step 2: Install Material UI

Next, you need to install Material UI as a dependency in your project. Navigate to your project directory and run:

npm install @mui/material @mui/icons-material

This command installs Material UI’s core components and icon set.

Step 3: Import Material UI Components

Now, in your React component file (e.g., App.js), import the Material UI components you want to use in your navbar. For instance, let’s import AppBar component, Toolbar component, Typography component, and Button component:

import React from 'react';
import AppBar from '@mui/material/AppBar';
import Toolbar from '@mui/material/Toolbar';
import Typography from '@mui/material/Typography';
import Button from '@mui/material/Button';

function App() {
return (
<div>
{/ Your Material UI Navbar will go here /}
</div>
);
}

export default App;

Step 4: Build Your Navbar
With Material UI components imported, you’re ready to start building your navbar. Use the AppBar components, Toolbar components, Typography components, and Button component as discussed in the previous section to structure your navigation bar.

Here’s a basic example of a Material UI navbar:

function App() {
return (
<div>
<AppBar position="static">
<Toolbar>
<Typography variant="h6">
My Material UI Navbar
</Typography>
<Button color="inherit">Home</Button>
<Button color="inherit">About</Button>
<Button color="inherit">Services</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
</div>
);
}

Customizing Navbar Appearance

Styling is a crucial aspect of designing a Material UI Navbar that matches your project’s aesthetic. Material UI provides an intuitive way to apply styles using CSS-in-JS, leveraging Material UI’s classes

Step 1: Define Custom Styles

To style your Material UI Navbar, you can define custom styles using Material UI’s makeStyles hook. Import the makeStyles hook from @mui/styles and create a custom styles object for AppBar component. For example:

import { makeStyles } from '@mui/styles';

const useStyles = makeStyles((theme) => ({
appBar: {
backgroundColor: '#2196F3', // Customize the background color
},
title: {
flexGrow: 1, // Make the title take up all available space
},
navButton: {
marginLeft: theme.spacing(2), // Add spacing between buttons
},
}));

Step 2: Apply Custom Styles

Next, apply these custom styles to the Material UI components in your navbar. You can do this by using the classes prop on the components and referencing the classes defined earlier. For example:

function App() {
const classes = useStyles();

return (
<div>
<AppBar position="static" className={classes.appBar}>
<Toolbar>
<Typography variant="h6" className={classes.title}>
My Material UI Navbar
</Typography>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
Home
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
About
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
Services
</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
</div>
);
}

Adding Icons and Logos to the Material UI Navbar Component

Including icons and logos in your Material UI Navbar can significantly enhance its visual appeal and functionality. Here’s how to integrate icons and logos into your navigation bar along with a code example.

Step 1: Import Material UI Icons and Logo

To include icons and logos, you’ll need to import Material UI’s icon components and your logo image. First, add the necessary imports:

import IconButton from '@mui/material/IconButton';
import MenuIcon from '@mui/icons-material/Menu'; // Import an icon of your choice
import YourLogo from './your-logo.png'; // Import your logo image

Step 2: Define Custom Styles

Define custom styles for your logo image and icon buttons, if needed. For example:

const useStyles = makeStyles((theme) => ({
// ...other styles

logo: {
height: 48,
marginRight: theme.spacing(2), // Add spacing to the logo
},
menuButton: {
marginRight: theme.spacing(2), // Add spacing to the menu button
},
}));

Step 3: Apply Icons and Logo

Integrate icons and the logo into your Navbar by adding IconButton for the menu icon and including the logo using the img tag. Make sure to apply the custom styles to these elements:

function App() {
const classes = useStyles();

return (
<div>
<AppBar position="static" className={classes.appBar}>
<Toolbar>
<IconButton
edge="start"
color="inherit"
aria-label="menu"
className={classes.menuButton}
>
<MenuIcon />
</IconButton>
<img src={YourLogo} alt="Your Logo" className={classes.logo} />
<Typography variant="h6" className={classes.title}>
My Material UI Navbar
</Typography>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
Home
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
About
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
Services
</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
</div>
);
}

Responsive Design for Navbars

A responsive navigation bar enhances the user experience in different devices that have varied screen sizes. A website’s or web Application’s UI should not get distorted or overlapped when accessing through devices that has smaller screens. To handle this problem we have to design navbar that is responsive by using useMediaQuery hook of material UI. We can set a threshold where where we would consider that the current screen is a mobile screen and change the appearance of our navbar component accordingly. Here’s the code snipped for you reference:

const useStyles = makeStyles((theme) => ({
appBar: {
backgroundColor: '#2196F3',
},
title: {
flexGrow: 1,
},
logo: {
height: 48,
marginRight: '2px',
},
navButton: {
marginRight: 'px',
},
}));

export default function ButtonAppBar() {
const classes = useStyles();

return (
<div>
<AppBar position="sticky" className={classes.appBar}>
<Toolbar>
<Typography variant="h6" className={classes.title}>
My Material UI Navbar
</Typography>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="home"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
Home
</Link>
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="about"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
About
</Link>
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="services"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
Services
</Link>
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="contact"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
Contact
</Link>
</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
{/ Sections with IDs /}
<div id="home" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>Home Section</h2>
</div>
<div id="about" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>About Section</h2>
</div>
<div id="services" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>Services Section</h2>
</div>
<div id="contact" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>Contact Section</h2>
</div>
</div>
);
}

import { createTheme } from '@mui/material/styles';

export const theme = createTheme({
  mixins: {
    toolbar: {
      minHeight: 60,
    },
  },
});

App.js file

import React, { Fragment, useState } from 'react';
import { Link } from 'react-router-dom';
import AppBar from '@mui/material/AppBar';
import Box from '@mui/material/Box';
import Button from '@mui/material/Button';
import Toolbar from '@mui/material/Toolbar';
import Tabs from '@mui/material/Tabs';
import Tab from '@mui/material/Tab';
import { theme } from './Theme';
import SwipeableDrawer from '@mui/material/SwipeableDrawer';
import Paper from '@mui/material/Paper';
import List from '@mui/material/List';
import ListItem from '@mui/material/ListItem';
import ListItemText from '@mui/material/ListItemText';
import MenuIcon from '@mui/icons-material/Menu';
import IconButton from '@mui/material/IconButton';
import useMediaQuery from '@mui/material/useMediaQuery';
import React from 'react';
import AppBar from '@mui/material/AppBar';
import Toolbar from '@mui/material/Toolbar';
import Button from '@mui/material/Button';

const styles = {
  toolbarMargin: {
    ...theme.mixins.toolbar,
    marginBottom: '3em',
    [theme.breakpoints.down('md')]: {
      marginBottom: '2em',
    },
    [theme.breakpoints.down('xs')]: {
      marginBottom: '1.25em',
    },
  },
  logo: {
    height: '8em',
    [theme.breakpoints.down('md')]: {
      height: '7em',
    },
    [theme.breakpoints.down('xs')]: {
      height: '5.5em',
    },
  },
  logoContainer: {
    padding: 0,
    '&:hover': {
      backgroundColor: 'transparent',
    },
  },
  tabs: {
    marginLeft: 'auto',
    '& .MuiButtonBase-root.MuiTab-root': {
      fontSize: 20,
    },
    '& .Mui-selected': {
      backgroundColor: '#fce0a2',
      color: '#000',
      opacity: 0.7,
      borderRadius: 2,
    },
  },
  tab: {
    ...theme.typography.tab,
    minWidth: 10,
    marginLeft: '25px',
    color: 'white',
  },

  hamburgerMenuIcon: {
    height: '50px',
    width: '50px',
  },
  menuIconContainer: {
    marginLeft: 'auto',
    color: 'white',
    '&:hover': {
      opacity: 1,
    },
  },
  appbar: {
    zIndex: theme.zIndex.modal + 1,
  },
};

const DesktopNavigation = () => {
  const [value, setValue] = useState(0);

  const handleChange = (event, newValue) => {
    setValue(newValue);
  };
  return (
    <Tabs
      value={value}
      onChange={handleChange}
      aria-label="nav tabs example"
      sx={styles.tabs}
    >
      <Tab sx={styles.tab} label="Home" />
      <Tab sx={styles.tab} label="About" />
      <Tab sx={styles.tab} label="Services" />
    </Tabs>
  );
};

const MobileNavigation = () => {
  const [openDrawer, setOpenDrawer] = React.useState(false);

  const iOS =
    typeof navigator !== 'undefined' &&
    /iPad|iPhone|iPod/.test(navigator.userAgent);

  return (
    <React.Fragment>
      <SwipeableDrawer
        disableBackdropTransition={!iOS}
        disableDiscovery={iOS}
        open={openDrawer}
        onClose={() => setOpenDrawer(false)}
        onOpen={() => setOpenDrawer(true)}
      >
        <Box sx={styles.toolbarMargin} />
        <Paper>
          <List disablePadding>
            <ListItem divider button onClick={() => setOpenDrawer(false)}>
              <ListItemText disableTypography>Home</ListItemText>
            </ListItem>
            <ListItem
              divider
              button
              component={Link}
              to="/about"
              onClick={() => setOpenDrawer(false)}
            >
              <ListItemText disableTypography>About</ListItemText>
            </ListItem>
            <ListItem divider button onClick={() => setOpenDrawer(false)}>
              <ListItemText disableTypography>Services</ListItemText>
            </ListItem>
          </List>
        </Paper>
      </SwipeableDrawer>
      <IconButton
        sx={styles.menuIconContainer}
        onClick={() => setOpenDrawer(!openDrawer)}
        disableRipple
      >
        <MenuIcon sx={styles.hamburgerMenuIcon} />
      </IconButton>
    </React.Fragment>
  );
};

const App = () => {
  const isMobileMode = useMediaQuery(theme.breakpoints.down('sm'));

  return (
    <Fragment>
      <AppBar
        position="fixed"
        sx={styles.appbar}
        color="secondary"
        elevation={9}
      >
        <Toolbar disableGutters={true}>
          <Button
            disableRipple
            component={Link}
            to="/"
            sx={styles.logoContainer}
          >
            <Box alt="company logo" />
            LOGO
          </Button>
          {isMobileMode ? <MobileNavigation /> : <DesktopNavigation />}
        </Toolbar>
      </AppBar>
    </Fragment>
  );
};

export default App;

Incorporating Dropdown Menus

Creating a dropdown menu within your Material UI Navbar is a useful way to organize and present additional navigation options. Below is a code example that demonstrates how to add a dropdown menu to your Material UI Navbar. We can do so by using the Menu ad Menu component of Material UI as seen below

import React from 'react';
import { makeStyles } from '@mui/styles';
import AppBar from '@mui/material/AppBar';
import Toolbar from '@mui/material/Toolbar';
import Typography from '@mui/material/Typography';
import Button from '@mui/material/Button';
import IconButton from '@mui/material/IconButton';
import MenuIcon from '@mui/icons-material/Menu';
import Menu from '@mui/material/Menu';
import MenuItem from '@mui/material/MenuItem';


export default function App() {

const [anchorEl, setAnchorEl] = React.useState(null);

const handleMenuOpen = (event: any) => {
setAnchorEl(event.currentTarget);
};

const handleMenuClose = () => {
setAnchorEl(null);
};

return (
<div>
<AppBar position="static" >
<Toolbar>
<IconButton
edge="start"
color="inherit"
aria-label="menu"

onClick={handleMenuOpen}
>
<MenuIcon />
</IconButton>

<Typography variant="h6" >
My Material UI Navbar
</Typography>
<Button color="inherit" >
Home
</Button>
<Button color="inherit">
About
</Button>
<Button color="inherit">
Services
</Button>
<Button
color="inherit"

aria-controls="simple-menu"
aria-haspopup="true"
onClick={handleMenuOpen}
>
More
</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
<Menu
id="simple-menu"
anchorEl={anchorEl}
open={Boolean(anchorEl)}
onClose={handleMenuClose}
>
<MenuItem onClick={handleMenuClose}>Option 1</MenuItem>
<MenuItem onClick={handleMenuClose}>Option 2</MenuItem>
<MenuItem onClick={handleMenuClose}>Option 3</MenuItem>
</Menu>
</div>
);
}

Notice how we have added Menu section with multiple MenuItem to display the menu on our navbar

Adding Interactivity

You would also want to make your navigation bar interactive like having a transition effect while expanding your Navbar or performing some action on click of a Menu Item. Material UI Provides us with components that we can use to achieve these functionalities. Have a look at below code where we have used Material UIs Grow component for the transition effect and used an onChange event handler along with useState hook to set the checked flag that is initially set to false on a Switch Component to hide and display the menu, also an onClick event handler to to capture the menu click event.



export default function App() {
const handleOnClick = (item: string) => {
console.log('Menu clicked:', item);
};

const menu = (
<div>
<AppBar position="static">
<Toolbar>
<Typography variant="h6">My Material UI Navbar</Typography>
<Button color="inherit" onClick={() => handleOnClick('home')}>
Home
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" onClick={() => handleOnClick('about')}>
About
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" onClick={() => handleOnClick('services')}>
Services
</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
</div>
);

const [checked, setChecked] = React.useState(false);

const handleChange = () => {
setChecked((prev) => !prev);
};

return (
<Box sx={{ height: 180 }}>
<FormControlLabel
control={<Switch checked={checked} onChange={handleChange} />}
label="Show Menu"
/>
<Box sx={{ display: 'flex' }}>
<Grow
in={checked}
style={{ transformOrigin: '0 0 0' }}
{...(checked ? { timeout: 1000 } : {})}
>
{menu}
</Grow>
</Box>
</Box>
);
}

Enhancing User Experience

Improving the user experience (UX) in the Navbar is essential for ensuring smooth navigation and engagement on your website or application. Here are some tips to enhance the UX in your Navbar:

  • Simplified Design: Keep your navigation bar clean and simple. Avoid clutter and too many navigation items. Use clear and concise labels for links.

  • Responsive Design: Ensure that your Navbar is responsive, adapting to different screen sizes. Use Material UI’s grid system and breakpoints for this purpose.

  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in the placement and appearance of your Navbar across all pages of your website or application. Users should always know where to find it.

  • Clear Branding: Use your Navbar to reinforce your brand identity. Include your logo and brand colors to create a cohesive look and feel.

  • Prioritize Navigation: Place the most important links at the beginning of the Navbar. Users tend to focus on the left side first.

  • Meaningful Labels: Use descriptive labels for navigation items. Users should immediately understand what each link leads to.

  • Hover Effects: Add subtle hover effects to provide visual feedback when users interact with Navbar items. This can be achieved through color changes, underlines, or highlighting.

  • Dropdown Menus: If you have a lot of navigation items, use dropdown menus to organize them. Make sure dropdowns are easy to access and navigate.

More Tips:

  • Search Bar: If relevant, include a search bar within the Navbar for quick searches. Ensure it is easily discoverable.

  • Interactive Icons: Use icons for common actions like search, notifications, or user profiles. These icons should be intuitive and recognizable.

  • Notifications: Include notifications or alerts in the navigation bar for important updates. Display badges or icons to indicate unread items.

  • User Account: If your application involves user accounts, provide easy access to account-related actions like sign in, sign out, and profile settings.

  • Mega Menus: For websites with a large amount of content, consider implementing mega menus that display a variety of options or categories.

  • Consistent Link Styling: Ensure that links have a consistent visual style and display. Use clear color contrast and a consistent font size.

  • Breadcrumbs: Consider using breadcrumbs to show users their current location within the website or application.

  • Accessibility: Pay attention to accessibility by providing alternative text for images, ensuring keyboard navigation, and following accessibility guidelines.

  • Performance: Ensure that your Navbar loads quickly and doesn’t slow down the overall page performance. Optimize images and code to enhance speed.

Advanced Techniques and Features

One of the advanced feature that you would like to have on your Navbar is to have a fixed Navbar at the Top of your page while you scroll and also to navigate to the specific page section that is clicked on the menu bar. If you have multiple sections within current screen you would want this handy functionality in your app.

In the code below we have implemented two advanced features

  • Sticky Navbar

  • Navigating to the selected Section

It Can be achieved by using some advanced techniques of javascript as seen in the below code:


const useStyles = makeStyles((theme) => ({
appBar: {
backgroundColor: '#2196F3',
},
title: {
flexGrow: 1,
},
logo: {
height: 48,
marginRight: '2px',
},
navButton: {
marginRight: 'px',
},
}));

export default function ButtonAppBar() {
const classes = useStyles();

return (
<div>
<AppBar position="sticky" className={classes.appBar}>
<Toolbar>
<Typography variant="h6" className={classes.title}>
My Material UI Navbar
</Typography>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="home"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
Home
</Link>
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="about"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
About
</Link>
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="services"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
Services
</Link>
</Button>
<Button color="inherit" className={classes.navButton}>
<Link
to="contact"
smooth={true}
offset={-70}
duration={500}
spy={true}
activeClass="active"
>
Contact
</Link>
</Button>
</Toolbar>
</AppBar>
{/ Sections with IDs /}
<div id="home" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>Home Section</h2>
</div>
<div id="about" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>About Section</h2>
</div>
<div id="services" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>Services Section</h2>
</div>
<div id="contact" style={{ height: '800px' }}>
<h2>Contact Section</h2>
</div>
</div>
);
}

Resources and Further Learning

With Material UI you can be as creative as you want to be, now that you are well versed with basic of using Material UI NavBars you are ready to dig deeper into mastering it by going through Material UI 5 (MUI) React Tutorial | MUI Responsive Real Project tutorial on Youtube. Moreover, you could also refer to Official Material UI Docs

Use MUI Navbar in Your Projects

Material UI Navbar is a versatile and user-friendly component for building navigation menus in your React project. It offers responsive design options, custom styling, and a wide array of interactive features, such as hover effects, dropdown menus, and smooth transitions. To improve user experience, keep the design simple, maintain consistency, and implement features like search bars, notifications, and interactive icons. You can also create a sticky Navbar with Scrollspy functionality to enhance navigation on longer web pages. By following these key points, you can create a Material UI Navbar that not only looks great but also provides a seamless and engaging navigation experience for your users.

Do Checkout Purecode.ai for creating seamless designs for your application

PureCode.ai is a developer tool that harnesses AI to transform design images into read-to-use front-end code. It is also a marketplace that offers over 10000 AI-generated custom components and allows the application of custom themes on top of Tailwind, MUI, and CSS3. 

Yash Poojari

Yash Poojari