5. The Basics of jQuery

If you have read our previous guides, by now you should know well that HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the three fundamental languages of the web.

With HTML, we structure our sites; with CSS, we style and format them, and with JavaScript, we add interactive functionality and animations.

jQuery is a JavaScript library that allows you to achieve great results with less code. In practice, you could use vanilla JavaScript to do the same things as with jQuery, but this library makes it simpler and faster!

Moreover, jQuery is compatible with most browsers, which means we don’t have to worry about testing effects on all browsers, but we can be confident that everything will work everywhere!

Do you want to see how jQuery is simpler compared to JavaScript?

Here’s an example!

In this example, we will insert the string “Hello, world!” into a div with the id #hello. Look at the difference between the two codes:


document.getElementById('hello').innerHTML = 'Hello, world!';


$('#hello').html('Hello, world!');

See? Even with something as simple as this, you can see that the code is much simpler with jQuery!

Are you convinced that it might be worth learning to use this library? Very well!

Let’s get started!

Installing jQuery

jQuery is simply a JavaScript file to be included in our HTML.

This inclusion can be done in two ways: through a CDN or by downloading the files locally.

You can download the jQuery files from the official website at this link:


Or you can use a CDN, as we will do in this guide. We will use Google’s CDN:


HTML Template

Let’s start by creating a basic HTML file to install jQuery. Here is our HTML skeleton:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <title>Intensive jQuery Course</title>
    <!-- CSS -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="css/styles.css" />

    <!-- JavaScript -->
    <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.1.0/jquery.min.js"></script>
    <script src="js/scripts.js"></script>

This is our skeleton. Along with the HTML file, let’s also create a “css” folder with a “styles.css” file inside, and a “js” folder with a “scripts.js” file inside.

Remember to include the “scripts.js” file below jQuery; otherwise, it won’t work!

Very well, we have a web project configured to use jQuery; let’s see now how to use this library!


jQuery is used to interact with HTML elements in the browser through the DOM (Document Object Model).

The DOM is the method by which JavaScript (and therefore also jQuery) interacts with HTML in the browser.

To see exactly what the DOM is, right-click on the page in the browser and select Inspect. The HTML code you see in the inspection box is the DOM. Each HTML element is considered an object that JavaScript can use. JavaScript can add, remove, and modify each of these elements.

The outermost level of the DOM is the document object. To start manipulating the page with jQuery, we need to ensure that the document is ready, “ready.”

So, open our scripts.js file and insert this code:

$(document).ready(function() {
  // All jQuery functions go in here!

Any custom jQuery we write will be contained within this function.

In the introduction of this article, we saw a simple “Hello, world!” script. To start this script and print the text on the browser with jQuery, first create an empty element to which we apply an id “hello.”

Then go back to our index.html and insert this in the :

<p id="hello"></p>

jQuery is called with and represented by the dollar sign ($). We access the DOM with jQuery mainly using CSS syntax and apply an action with a method. A basic example of jQuery follows this format:


Since an ID is represented by a hash symbol (#) in CSS, we will access the hello ID with the selector #hello. html() is a method that modifies the HTML within an element.

$('#hello').html('Hello, world!');

The code runs as soon as the document is ready.

Save everything and open index.html in the browser; you will see the “Hello, world!” message. This message was inserted by jQuery!


Most jQuery selectors are the same as those used in CSS, with some specific additions to jQuery. The complete list of jQuery selectors is available here. Here’s a brief overview of some commonly used selectors.

  • $(“*”)Wildcard: selects every element.
  • $(this)Current: selects the current element to operate on within a function.
  • $(“p”)Element: selects every instance of the <p> tag.
  • $(“.example”)Class: selects every element with the applied “example” class.
  • $(“#example”)ID: selects a single instance of the unique ID “example”.
  • $(“[type=’text’]”)Attribute: selects any element with the text type attribute.
  • $(“p:first-of-type”)Pseudo Element: selects the first <p>.

Generally, classes and IDs are what will be used most: classes when selecting multiple elements and IDs when selecting only one.

jQuery Events

In the “Hello, world!” example, the code was executed as soon as the page loaded, and the document was ready, so it didn’t require user interaction. Clearly, in this case, we could easily write the text directly in HTML without worrying about jQuery.

However, we will need to use jQuery if we want to display text on the page with the click of a button. We can add a button to our HTML to trigger the event.

<button id="trigger">Click me!</button>
<p id="hello"></p>

Now we can use the click() method to insert our “Hello, world!” text:

$('#trigger').click(function() {
  $('#hello').html('Hello, world!');

Save and refresh, and if everything went smoothly, clicking the button will display the text.

A complete list of jQuery event methods [is available here](

https://api.jquery.com/category/events/). An event occurs whenever the user interacts with the browser. We just learned click(), which is triggered with a single mouse click.

Here is a brief overview of some commonly used event methods.

  • hover()Hover is triggered when the mouse is moved over an element. mouseenter() and mouseleave() apply only when the mouse enters or leaves an element, respectively.
  • submit()Submit is triggered when a form is submitted.
  • scroll()Scrolling is triggered when you scroll the screen.
  • keydown()Keydown is triggered when a key on the keyboard is pressed.

jQuery Effects

jQuery effects work hand in hand with events, allowing you to easily add animations and otherwise manipulate page elements.

Let’s do an example where we open and close an overlay/modal popup. While we could use two IDs: one to open the modal and another to close it, we’ll use a class to easily open and close the modal with the same function.


<button class="trigger">Open</button>

<section class="overlay">
  <button class="trigger">Close</button>

We’ll use a minimal amount of CSS to hide the overlay with display: none and center it on the screen.


.overlay {
  display: none;
  position: fixed;
  top: 50%;
  left: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  height: 200px;
  width: 200px;
  background: gray;

Finally, we’ll use the toggle() method, which will switch the CSS display property between none and block, hiding and showing the overlay when clicked.

$('.trigger').click(function() {

Now you can toggle the visibility of the modal by clicking the buttons.

You can also try changing toggle() to fadeToggle() or slideToggle() to see a couple of other built-in jQuery effects.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the most commonly used effect methods.

  • toggle()Toggle on/off the visibility of one or more elements. show() and hide() are the related one-way effects.
  • fadeToggle()Fade Toggle toggles the visibility and animates the opacity of one or more elements. fadeIn() and fadeOut() are the related one-way effects.
  • slideToggle()Slide Toggle toggles the visibility of one or more elements with a sliding effect. slideDown() and slideUp() are the related one-way effects.
  • animate()Animate performs custom animation effects on the CSS property of an element.


Now that you have learned the basics of jQuery, you can experiment and try to create the effects you want!

So, try to create some effects on mouse hover, click, or scroll, modifying CSS classes such as color, background, or even the image!

With jQuery, you can do practically anything, just get started and study a bit!

Now that you understand the basics of front-end languages, it’s time to dedicate some time to the main language of WordPress:

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