6 Most Popular CSS Frameworks for Web Developers and Designers

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Lucian Cross
/ 13 minute read
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CSS frameworks are pre-designed blocks of reusable code written in CSS syntax that provide a foundation for web developers and designers to build on. The tools and features they offer make it easier to create consistent and visually appealing websites fast.

Best CSS Frameworks for Web Developers and Designers

We’ll take a look at the six most popular CSS frameworks comparing their features benefits and drawbacks to help you choose the right one for you.

Whether you are a seasoned web developer or just starting out these frameworks offer a range of options to suit your needs and preferences. Let’s get started!

FrameworkEase of UsePre-made ComponentsEstimated No. of WebsitesGitHub Stars
BootstrapEasyYesMillions 161k77.7k
TailwindModerateNoHundreds of Thousands 63.5k3.2k
BulmaEasyYesHundreds of Thousands 46.6k3.9k
Material UIModerateYesHundreds of Thousands 83.6k28.8k
Pure.cssEasyYes (Minimal)Tens of Thousands 22.7k2.5k
Semantic UIModerateYesHundreds of Thousands 50.3k5.1k

Remember that these characteristics can vary depending on how a CSS framework is implemented and used and may not be applicable to every situation. Furthermore it is worth noting that different users may have different perceptions of what constitutes ‘ease of use’.

It is also difficult to determine the exact number of websites that are built with a particular CSS framework. The estimated number of websites provided are based on W3Techs data and may not be accurate or up-to-date. The stars on Github were correct at the time of posting.

Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a free and open-source CSS framework designed to facilitate responsive, mobile-first web development. It provides templates for typography, forms, buttons, navigation, and other interface components, allowing web developers to quickly and easily create responsive designs without writing their own code. It is one of the most widely-used CSS frameworks on the web.

Bootstrap Features

Bootstrap is a powerful framework that is packed with features that make web development easier and faster.

It provides a comprehensive selection of HTML and CSS components, including buttons, forms, modals, navigation bars, typography and more.

Furthermore, Bootstrap also offers JavaScript components such as carousels, dropdowns, popovers and tooltips, making it a great choice for creating interactive and dynamic web projects.

Finally, Bootstrap is compatible with all major browsers and platforms, making it a great choice for developers of all skill levels.

Pros:

  • Bootstrap is easy to use and learn
  • Responsive design
  • Lots of pre-styled components
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • Can lead to code bloat (due to its extensive library of components and features)
  • Requires coding knowledge (if you don’t know how to code, it is better to use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla.)
  • Naming scheme can be confusing (you need to invest time to understand the available options and how they are labelled)
  • Developers can become overly reliant on it

Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a low-level CSS framework that provides customizable building blocks for creating unique designs without the need for complex CSS. It also includes a design system to help create consistent designs quickly, while maintaining the individual website’s look and feel.

Tailwind CSS Features

Tailwind CSS is an incredibly powerful and versatile tool for developers to create unique and stylish web designs. It provides an easy-to-use set of tools to define and customize CSS styles with a utility-first approach.

Tailwind CSS features include a wide range of utility classes for styling, such as spacing, sizing, positioning, display, and more. It also offers a responsive design approach that enables developers to quickly and easily create websites that look great on all devices.

Additionally, Tailwind CSS features a wide selection of color palettes, and other design elements to add to the look and feel of a website. Tailwind CSS helps developers create stunning, modern websites with ease.

Pros:

  • Offers control over styling, allowing for a unique look for each project
  • Faster CSS styling process due to built-in classes that do not require creating designs from scratch
  • Responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Stable and secure due to being developed by top-notch engineers
  • Allows for the creation of responsive themes and removal of unused CSS classes with PurgeCSS to keep final CSS as small as possible

Cons:

  • Mixes styling and HTML, going against the principle of separation of concerns
  • Takes time to learn due to the built-in classes
  • Lacks important styling components that need to be added manually
  • Documentation may not be as comprehensive as some competitors like Bootstrap

Bulma

Bulma is a CSS framework that is based on the Flexbox layout system, which makes it easy to create responsive designs. It offers a range of pre-designed components, such as buttons, forms, and navigation bars, which can be easily customized. It’s a popular choice for web developers and designers who want a lightweight framework that is easy to learn.

Bulma Features

One of the standout features of Bulma is its extensive set of pre-designed components that can be easily added to web projects. These include buttons, navbars, modals, and more. This makes it easy for developers to quickly add functionality and a cohesive design to their projects without having to spend a lot of time on styling.

Bulma is also fully responsive and mobile-friendly, meaning that layouts created with the framework will automatically adjust to different screen sizes. This is achieved through the use of Flexbox and media queries.

In addition, Bulma is easy to customize. It uses a simple, modular system that allows developers to easily override default styles by creating their own CSS rules. This allows for a high level of flexibility and customization without the need for complex code.

Pros:

  • Offers more flexibility for customization compared to Bootstrap
  • Modular structure provides more control over individual projects
  • Allows users to import only the necessary modules for desired features, omitting any that aren’t needed

Cons:

  • Does not include inbuilt JavaScript or jQuery, requiring custom scripts to be written for features that require them

Material UI

Material UI is a popular open-source user interface (UI) framework for web applications. It is based on Google’s Material Design guidelines and is designed to provide a consistent and intuitive user experience across different devices and platforms.

Material UI Features

Material UI is known for its wide selection of pre-constructed components. These include buttons, navbars, forms, and more, making it easy to quickly add functionality and a cohesive design to your projects. Material UI also comes with a comprehensive set of design guidelines and best practices to help you create user interfaces that are visually appealing and easy to use.

Another advantage of Material UI is its support for theming. This allows you to easily customize the look and feel of your projects by creating your own custom themes. This is a great way to make your projects stand out and give them a unique look.

In addition, Material UI integrates seamlessly with popular JavaScript libraries like React, making it easy to use in modern web applications. It also has good documentation and a strong community of users, so you can get help and support when you need it.

Pros:

  • Offers a wide range of pre-designed components for easily adding functionality and design to projects
  • Includes comprehensive design guidelines and best practices
  • Allows for customization through the creation of custom themes
  • Integrates seamlessly with popular JavaScript libraries like React
  • Has good documentation and a strong community of users for support

Cons:

  • May require more time and effort to learn and master compared to some other UI frameworks
  • Some users may prefer a different design aesthetic or framework that is more tailored to their specific needs

Pure.css

Pure.css is a lightweight and minimalistic CSS framework that is designed to provide a clean and simple starting point for web projects. It is built on top of Normalize.css, a stylesheet that makes it easier to style HTML elements consistently across different browsers.

Pure.css Features

Pure.css is modular, meaning that it consists of a series of independent modules that can be easily added to web projects. These modules include layout, buttons, forms, tables, and more. This allows developers to only include the modules they need, keeping the final CSS file size small.

Pure.css uses a mobile-first approach, meaning that layouts are designed to look good on small screens first, and then adjust to larger screens as needed. This makes it easy to create layouts that work well on a wide range of devices.

Overall, Pure.css is a simple and lightweight CSS framework that is well-suited for creating clean, minimalistic web projects. Its modular design and responsive capabilities make it a great choice for developers looking for a lightweight starting point for their projects.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and minimalistic, providing a clean starting point for web projects
  • Modular design allows developers to only include the necessary modules, keeping the final CSS file size small
  • Uses a mobile-first, responsive design approach

Cons:

  • May not have as many features or pre-designed components as some other CSS frameworks
  • Some users may prefer a more feature-rich framework with a larger set of pre-designed components
  • May require more manual styling and customization compared to some other frameworks

Semantic UI

Semantic UI is an open-source UI framework designed to make it easier for developers to create modern and responsive web projects. It provides a variety of pre-designed components, such as buttons, navbars, and forms, which can be customized and easily added to projects.

Semantic UI Features

Semantic UI stands out due to its wide range of pre-designed components. These include buttons, navbars, forms, and more, making it easy to quickly add functionality and a cohesive design to your projects.

In addition to its pre-designed components, Semantic UI also offers a number of other useful features. For example, it uses natural language principles to label and style components, making it easy for developers to understand and use the framework, as well as for end users to understand the purpose and function of different components.

Another advantage of Semantic UI is its responsive design. It automatically adjusts layouts to different screen sizes, ensuring that your projects look good on a wide range of devices. It also integrates seamlessly with popular JavaScript libraries like React, making it easy to use in modern web applications.

Overall, Semantic UI is a powerful and user-friendly UI framework that offers a range of features that make it easy to create modern, responsive layouts for web projects. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, it’s definitely worth considering for your next project.

Pros:

  • Offers a wide range of pre-designed components for easily adding functionality and design to projects
  • Uses natural language principles to label and style components, making it easy to understand and use
  • Fully responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Integrates seamlessly with popular JavaScript libraries like React

Cons:

  • May require more time and effort to learn and master compared to some other UI frameworks
  • Some users may prefer a different design aesthetic or framework that is more tailored to their specific needs
  • May be less customizable compared to some other frameworks

The Benefits of using CSS frameworks

1. Pre-built Components

CSS frameworks typically include a collection of pre-built components that can be used to quickly and easily create custom designs.

These components often include basic HTML elements such as buttons, forms, and grids, as well as more complex elements such as drop-down menus and responsive navigation bars and footers.

2. Grid Layouts:

CSS frameworks usually come with a grid system, consisting of rows and columns, that makes it easier to position elements on the page.

The grid system also helps developers to create a consistent look and feel across their webpages. In addition, the grid system can help create responsive designs that look great across multiple devices.

3. Responsive Design:

CSS frameworks are designed with mobile devices and other screen sizes in mind, making it easier to create responsive designs.

Responsive design means that the website layout will adapt to different screen sizes and mobile devices, ensuring that the user experience is consistent no matter the device.

By using a CSS framework, designers can quickly create responsive designs that look great on any device they are viewed on.

4. Cross-Browser Compatibility:

CSS frameworks are designed to be compatible with all major browsers, ensuring that your designs look the same across different devices and browsers.

Not only does this make it easier to create designs that look great, but it also prevents compatibility issues that could cause your website to appear differently across different browsers.

Most CSS frameworks also have features that make them more accessible, ensuring that your designs are accessible to users with disabilities.

5. Typography:

CSS frameworks include common typography styles like headings, paragraphs, and lists.

Typography also includes the use of font sizes, font families, font styles, and other textual styling options.

CSS frameworks provide a great starting point for designers and developers to use good typographic practices.

6. Reset Styles:

CSS frameworks include a set of reset styles that can be used to remove the default styling from HTML elements and start with a clean slate.

Reset styles are especially helpful when dealing with cross-browser compatibility issues. They can help to ensure that all browsers display elements consistently, regardless of the user’s operating system or browser version.

Conclusion

In conclusion, CSS frameworks are a valuable tool for web developers and designers looking to create consistent and visually appealing websites. There are many options to choose from, each with its own unique features and characteristics. In this post, we looked at the six most popular CSS frameworks: Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS, Bulma, Material UI, Pure.css, and Semantic UI.

When choosing a CSS framework, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences. Do you want a framework that is responsive, easy to use, or visually appealing? Do you need a large number of pre-designed components, or do you prefer to create your own designs from scratch?

Ultimately, the right CSS framework for you will depend on your individual needs and goals. Whether you choose one of the frameworks mentioned in this post, or another option altogether, it’s important to carefully evaluate your options and choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences.

We hope that you enjoyed this article; if you have any questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment!

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About the author

Lucian Cross

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Lucian is a web developer with a passion for creating visually stunning and functional websites. With over a decade of experience in the industry, he has honed his skills to deliver exceptional results for his clients. When he's not coding up a storm, you can find him hitting the slopes or exploring the world's cultural treasures as a passionate traveler and foodie.

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