Introducing the Button element

— 4 minute read

How many times have you thought to yourself something like this?

"As much as I love making <div> elements buttons, it'd be great if there was an npm package that I could install that would give me keyboard events and focus."

Think no more, because I have exciting news. There's a native element called a <button>, and I'm here to talk about it with you today.

A what now? permalink

A <button> gives you everything you want out of the box:

  • It's focusable
  • If you attach a click event, you get keyboard events for ✨FREE✨
  • A screen reader will announce it appropriately
  • It's primary function is not dividing content, it's actually an interactive element

Best of all, it's already in every browser!

Oh, these are hard to style, though permalink

Ah yes, the primary reason we find lots of <div onClick={this.myFunction}> in our hot-framework.js codebases is that buttons are tough to style, apparently. What if I told you that a few of lines of CSS will make it look like a standard element, though?

button {
display: inline-block;
border: none;
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
font-family: sans-serif; /* Use whatever font-family you want */
font-size: 1rem;
line-height: 1;
background: transparent;
-webkit-appearance: none;

Pretty neat, huh? Wanna see it in action? No build steps required, my friend—just use some HTML and CSS 🎉.

Here's a demo in CodePen for convenience:

See the Pen A basic button reset by Andy Bell (@andybelldesign) on CodePen.

Are you fan of using JavaScript to style your elements? Here's an object that you can steal:

const buttonStyles = {
display: 'inline-block',
border: 'none',
margin: '0',
padding: '0',
'font-family': 'sans-serif',
'font-size': '1rem',
background: 'transparent',
'line-height': '1',
'-webkit-appearance': 'none'

Wrapping up with serious note permalink

Although there are elements of satire to this post, it's got a really important message. You get so much for free by using appropriate HTML elements. Sure, they can be a pain in the butt to style, but the tradeoff is minimal—especially when they'll make the overall user experience much better. Don't make users suffer for your personal convenience.

Hopefully with the above styles, or even a more detailed version like this one, you'll consider using <button> elements instead of <div> elements for buttons in your apps and websites. I also recommend that you look at the A11y Nutrition Card, by Dave Rupert to make sure you're meeting accessibility standards.

We're all in this together to make our user's lives easier because that's the real priority.

Hi 👋, I’m Andy — an educator and web designer

I produce front-end development tutorials over at Front-End Challenges Club and Piccalilli. You can sign up for updates on Piccalilli to stay up to date with its progress.

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