Bradley Taunt
UI & UX Developer

Easy custom radio inputs


Default radio inputs are notoriously horrible looking and are something designers tend to over-think when trying to customize them. Let’s walk through how to create custom radio buttons with pure CSS, while still preserving performance and accessibility.

The final product (embedded demo)

This is what we will be designing:


The bones of our radio inputs (HTML)

<input class="radio-btn" name="radio-collection" id="radio-1" type="radio">
<label class="radio-label" for="radio-1"><span>I am very satisfied</span></label>

<input class="radio-btn" name="radio-collection" id="radio-2" type="radio">
<label class="radio-label" for="radio-2"><span>I am satisfied</span></label>

<input class="radio-btn" name="radio-collection" id="radio-3" type="radio">
<label class="radio-label" for="radio-3"><span>I am indifferent</span></label>

<input class="radio-btn" name="radio-collection" id="radio-4" type="radio">
<label class="radio-label" for="radio-4"><span>I am unsatisfied</span></label>

<input class="radio-btn" name="radio-collection" id="radio-5" type="radio">
<label class="radio-label" for="radio-5"><span>I am very unsatisfied</span></label>

I know it looks like a lot is going on here, but it’s pretty straightforward so let’s unpackage line by line:

Radio inputs

<input class="radio-btn" name="radio-collection" id="radio-1" type="radio">

This is the default radio input. We give it:

Important: be sure to have a unique id for each input so your labels don’t end up connected to multiple radios. In this demo we are simply incrementing them by one.

Labels

Adding the labels is fairly straightforward, we just include the corresponding input’s id in the label’s for attribute. The label content is wrapped in a span - which I will explain the reasoning for later.

For styling purposes we also add the radio-label class.

<label class="radio-label" for="radio-1"><span>I am very satisfied</span></label>

What we have so far: (embedded demo)

This is looking pretty terrible - but that’s nothing some good ol’ CSS can’t fix!

The flesh of our radio inputs (CSS)

First we give some basic styling to our label and input classes (along with hover states). The radio element is actually hidden from view, but by using the visibility attribute we still keep it accessible for screen-readers.

.radio-label {
    background: white;
    border: 1px solid #eee;
    border-radius: 5px;
    box-shadow: 0 2px 4px rgba(0,0,0,0.05);
    cursor: pointer;
    display: inline-block;
    font-weight: 600;
    margin: 0 auto 10px;
    /* This 65px padding makes room for the custom input */
    padding: 20px 20px 20px 65px;
    position: relative;
    transition: .3s ease all;
    width: 100%;
}
.radio-label:hover {
    box-shadow: 0 4px 8px rgba(0,0,0,0.05);    
}
.radio-btn {
    position: absolute;
    visibility: hidden;
}

Remember that span element inside the label? We set it’s user-select property to none so we avoid any possible issue with the user selecting the text on-click:

.radio-label span {
    -webkit-user-select: none;
    -moz-user-select: none;
    user-select: none;
}

Next we include the default empty selection element (to mimic the original radio input) via a pseudo element:

.radio-label:before {
    background: #eee;
    border-radius: 50%;
    content:'';
    height: 30px;
    left: 20px;
    position: absolute;
    /* Half the height of it's parent minus half of it's own height */
    top: calc(50% - 15px);
    transition: .3s ease background-color;
    width: 30px;
}

The final step is adding the custom styling for when an input item is selected (:checked).

You will notice the use of a base64 element for the custom checkmark - feel free to subsitute this for an actual image or none at all (this is just my personal design preference).

.radio-btn:checked + .radio-label {
    background: #ECF5FF;
    border-color: #4A90E2;
}
.radio-btn:checked + .radio-label:before {
    background-color: #4A90E2;
    background-image:  url('data:image/svg+xml;base64,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');
    background-repeat: no-repeat;
    background-position: center;
    background-size: 15px;
}

And that’s it.

For easier reference the entire CSS file can be found below:

.radio-label {
    background: white;
    border: 1px solid #eee;
    border-radius: 5px;
    box-shadow: 0 2px 4px rgba(0,0,0,0.05);
    cursor: pointer;
    display: inline-block;
    font-weight: 600;
    margin: 0 auto 10px;
    padding: 20px 20px 20px 65px;
    position: relative;
    transition: .3s ease all;
    width: 100%;
}
.radio-label:hover {
    box-shadow: 0 4px 8px rgba(0,0,0,0.05);    
}
.radio-label:before {
    background: #eee;
    border-radius: 50%;
    content:'';
    height: 30px;
    left: 20px;
    position: absolute;
    top: calc(50% - 15px);
    transition: .3s ease background-color;
    width: 30px;
}
.radio-label span {
    -webkit-user-select: none;
    -moz-user-select: none;
    user-select: none;
}
.radio-btn {
    position: absolute;
    visibility: hidden;
}
.radio-btn:checked + .radio-label {
    background: #ECF5FF;
    border-color: #4A90E2;
}
.radio-btn:checked + .radio-label:before {
    background-color: #4A90E2;
    background-image:  url('data:image/svg+xml;base64,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');
    background-repeat: no-repeat;
    background-position: center;
    background-size: 15px;
}

But wait - we can get even fancier!

Since this demo is based off a survey-type questionaire, wouldn’t it be interesting to give the different selectable options their own styling based on their context? Take a look at the further customized version below:

We can do so by adding positive, neutral and negative class names to the radio inputs with their own respective properties:

.radio-btn.positive:checked + .radio-label {
    background: #EAFFF6;
    border-color: #32B67A;
}
.radio-btn.positive:checked + .radio-label:before {
    background-color: #32B67A;
}
.radio-btn.neutral:checked + .radio-label:before {
    background-image: url('data:image/svg+xml;base64,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');
}
.radio-btn.negative:checked + .radio-label {
    background: #FFF2F2;
    border-color: #E75153;
}
.radio-btn.negative:checked + .radio-label:before {
    background-color: #E75153;
    background-image: url('data:image/svg+xml;base64,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');
}

I hope this shows new designers that simple custom radio inputs aren’t so hard to implement after-all and can actually be pretty fun to design.

👍