5 Best CSS Frameworks
The web is constantly evolving and so are the CSS frameworks that make frontend development more productive and enjoyable.
Love them or hate them, there are CSS structures here to stay. In order to easily implement user-friendly UIs, developers with no previous frontend experience can use some of these frameworks. Other structures are more dynamic and geared towards power users.
These frameworks will help you create beautiful layouts faster, irrespective of your experience level. We will go through the best CSS frameworks on the market in this collection, so that you can choose the correct one based on your needs.
Why Should I Use A CSS Framework?
It is important to understand how and why CSS frameworks are an integral part of modern front-end development before getting into the list.
CSS stylesheets are hard to organize, maintain, and reuse. Even minor changes in style require you to write new CSS rules, which might turn your code into a complicated mess at some point.
Ready-to-use classes are the main building blocks of all CSS frameworks. They allow you to apply HTML elements, such as margins, background colors and others, to pre-defined styling rules.
Some frameworks include components like menus, cards, or tables that are pre-built. Without a lot of work on your part, you can create user-friendly interfaces by using these components.
CSS frameworks make your workflow of styling productive, clean, and maintainable. You will save time and avoid many of the headaches that come with CSS coding by using one of the following frameworks.
I can’t think of a conversation that would not include Bootstrap about CSS frameworks. Twitter introduced the framework in 2011 to make responsive web design easily accessible to developers.
Since then, the project has evolved to support modern CSS and offers countless features to improve your frontend productivity. As is the case with many common things, some criticism is received by Bootstrap.
Here are some reasons why, despite the criticism, you should consider utilizing it in your projects.
Reasons to Use Bootstrap
Most popular frontend structure: Bootstrap is one of the most popular existing open source projects. For almost any type of project, you can always find solutions to problems you run into and find plenty of free and premium templates.
Fully-featured: It is not only a framework for development, but also a dynamic pre-built template with countless ready-to-use components. Almost anything is supported by default, from alerts to modals to navigation bars. This can make it easier for any developer to develop well-structured pages, even without previous frontend experience.
Customizable: By using SASS, Bootstrap is easily customizable. To customize almost everything, you can install the project with npm, import the parts you need and use SASS variables. You can significantly cut your development time by learning how to customize Bootstrap websites with SASS.
Mature and supported: Many smaller open source projects die when the authors decide to quit. Bootstrap was originally introduced by Twitter, and a community of hundreds of developers are now maintaining it, ensuring stable releases and long-term support.
Hard to override: Bootstrap has a very particular design and look, which is difficult to override if you want a different style. Since he uses it! It can be tricky to override the defaults, which is an important CSS rule.
Overused: The main reason why Bootstrap is disliked by people is its wide use. It offers a distinct look that is so overused that the phrase ‘all Bootstrap websites look the same’ has been coined by developers.
Heavy to include: All the features of Bootstrap come with a price, which is quite heavy to include in your projects. It’s not as lightweight or modular as other frameworks listed here, even though you can import parts of the project.
For experienced developers who enjoy freedom but want the power of a fully-featured framework, Foundation is the perfect choice.
Foundation is not just a CSS framework in reality, but a family of tools for frontend development. It is possible to use these tools either together or completely independently.
The core framework for creating web pages is Foundation for Sites, while Foundation for Emails enables you to create attractive emails that can be read from any device. The final piece of the puzzle is Motion UI, allowing you to create advanced CSS animations.
Reasons for Foundation Use
Generic style: Foundation does not use a distinct style for its components, unlike Bootstrap. Its wide range of modular and flexible components has minimal styling and can be customized easily.
Fully-featured: For almost everything, the foundation comes with built-in components. Navigation bars, various container types, and a grid system that is developer-friendly are all included. The Foundation also gives you access to pre-made HTML templates that you can use to start projects based on your exact requirements, created either by the development team or the community.
Email design: It is notoriously difficult to construct aesthetic email templates. Developers are forced to write 1990s-era HTML code to support older email clients. This makes modern features such as responsive design difficult to deliver. The Emails Foundation can help you create responsive email templates for any client, including old Microsoft Outlook versions.
Animations: Foundation can easily be integrated with the Motion UI library of ZURB, which allows you to use built-in effects to create transitions and animations. It will bring your designs to life using Motion UI along with Foundation!
Hard to learn: with almost too many options, Foundation comes. It has countless characteristics, and it is much more complex than other frameworks. It gives you a lot of freedom when developing frontend layouts, but first, you need to fully understand how everything works.
Bulma is a great alternative to Bootstrap, as it features modern code and a unique aesthetic. It is simple to use and import into your projects and comes with different components that are pre-made.
For its simple syntax and minimalistic but aesthetic design, it is highly praised. It is really a structure that can make a dull web page look bright and attractive.
With over 40,000 + stars on GitHub, it’s no longer a niche framework, but rather a force to be reckoned with.
Reasons for use Bulma
Aesthetic design: Bulma is the best-looking CSS framework on this list, in my personal opinion. It comes with a clean and modern design and you will end up with a great-looking webpage even if you don’t change the defaults.
Modern: Technology comes and goes, and what was once complicated may now be simple. CSS ‘flexbox layout module made it easier to create responsive layouts, and Bulma was one of the first flexbox-based frameworks that implemented the new principles.
Developer-friendly: While the aim of front-end developers is to provide the end-user with a great experience, the creators of Bulma aim to provide the developer with a great experience. With that in mind, Bulma comes with conventions for naming which are simple to use and remember.
Easy to customize: Using SASS, the colors, paddings and many default properties of Bulma can be customized. This way, you can set up defaults for your project in a matter of minutes.
Distinct style: A double-edged sword may be Bulma’s unique style. Since it is quite distinct, we can end up with very similar-looking websites, as is the case with Bootstrap, if it gets overused.
Less complete: In many instances, Bulma competes with Boostrap, but when it comes to accessibility and other enterprise-grade features, it’s not as complete.
4. CSS Tailwind
“Most CSS frameworks do too much”-The motto of Tailwind clearly explains why it is a lightweight framework that gives developers freedom. It does not come with a particular design, but rather allows you to more quickly implement your own unique style.
By offering utility classes that make CSS coding almost unnecessary, it accomplishes that. Experienced frontend developers fall in love and use it throughout their projects with its powerful features.
Tailwind Reasons to Use
Atomic CSS: All things you would normally code in CSS are the centering of an element, creating a flexible layout, or using a particular text color. By offering powerful utility classes, Tailwind makes all these common styles easy to implement. This methodology is sometimes referred to as Atomic CSS, where the classes of an HTML element clearly describe what it will look like.
For example, an element with a margin of 1 (i.e. small margin), centered text, and a black background will display < div class=”m-1 text-center bg-black”> … </div >.
No layout: Tailwind does not come with pre-made parts or a particular design language. This implies that when implementing custom designs, you won’t have to override existing styles and can be more productive.
Reusable components: Although no pre-designed components are included in Tailwind, it enables you to create your own custom components that you can reuse throughout your projects. Some examples of components can also be found on the official website that you can use as a starting point.
Powerful integration of PostCSS / SASS: You need to install and import it into your SASS or PostCSS project to get the most out of Tailwind. This enables you to make use of all the features of Tailwind to write more efficient CSS. In your SASS or CSS code, the @apply syntax “copies” rules from Tailwind, so you’re still writing CSS, but with superpowers this time!
Steep curve of learning: For less experienced developers, Tailwind is not the best choice. You need to fully understand how frontend technology works because it does not provide pre-made components. The learning curve of Tailwind is somewhat steep as you have to learn the syntax with the framework to be productive.
Not to be used directly: similar to other frameworks, Tailwind can be added to your project as a bundled CSS file. The official installation guide, however, explains that many of its features will be unavailable if you add the framework like this, and you will not have access to the compressed version (27 KB compressed vs 348 KB raw). You need to know how to use Webpack, Gulp, or other frontend creation tools to make the most of Tailwind.
UIKit is a modular framework for the frontend that only allows you to import the features you need.
On GitHub, it has over 16k stars, and has been chosen by developers for its simple API and clean-cut design.
In addition, UIKit has a pro version that, coupled with an easy-to-use page builder, offers themed pages for WordPress and Joomla.
Reasons for Using UIKit
Dozens of components: UIKit contains dozens of components, enabling complex frontend layouts to be implemented. All the typical utilities and components are included, but it goes even further by giving you access to advanced elements such as navigation bars, sidebars off-canvas, and designs of parallax.
Extensible: UIKit can be customized and extended easily using the preprocessors LESS or SASS.
UI-based customizer: UIKit offers a web-based customizer that allows you to real-time customize the design, then copy into your project the SASS or LESS variables. It can really feel like magic in this part of UIKit and help you start new projects in no time.
Complex for smaller projects: For less experienced developers, UIKit is not recommended, as it is a complex framework that requires you to thoroughly understand frontend development. For advanced applications, it’s great, but for smaller projects, it might be too much.
Smaller community: It’s not almost as popular as other frameworks, even though its npm package is downloaded 27,000 times a week. It will not be as easy as with Bootstrap or Foundation to find answers or hire individuals with UIKit experience.