Alternatives to Bootstrap? Which is the best choice?

Tram Ho

If you want to create an effective user interface for a web project, you need to master a variety of challenges: it is important to give the user interface a proper look, but never loss of overall usability. Because of the different devices and browsers available to access content on the web, the selected visual and technical elements must also work on all platforms. Accessibility and a good SEO base are also essential when it comes to front end programming. The following article of Can Tho 89 Web Design will help you clarify many issues,

Why Bootstrap is not always the best solution

In order not to have to start completely from scratch when developing web interfaces, many programmers use user interface frameworks. Many people decide to use Bootstrap, designed by Twitter. Components can be optimized for mobile devices and all current browsers, as well as the fact that they can be easily adapted to your requirements.

However, the large distribution ratio also means that there are many websites on the internet that are built using standard Bootstrap code and are therefore very similar for this reason. A minor criticism is also the complexity of the front end framework, which relies heavily on CSS and JavaScript. It also makes the HTML markup wider, affecting the page’s load time, among other things.

While minified CSS and script files that contain only the required Bootstrap components can be downloaded, you will have to deal with this theme more intensively. Frameworks are often used to simplify work and save time, but sometimes that’s not the case. Some developers may simply dislike using UI frameworks in general, which is why it’s a good idea to consider using an alternative to Bootstrap. With so many to choose from, it can be a daunting task.

Best Bootstrap Alternatives

We present you five front-end frameworks that you can use instead of Twitter’s Bootstrap so you can develop a complete and functional user interface. We show you the pros and cons as well as the differences compared to Bootstrap. Plus, you’ll learn about the size of code collections and the type of developer they’re particularly well suited for. You can also find out how well development works with the Bootstrap alternative.


The modular foundation framework was originally a style guide, which the web design agency ZURB originally used exclusively for client projects. Later, ZURB combined and published many HTML, CSS and JavaScript components in an open source framework. A flexible 12-column grid layout allows for a responsive layout designed to automatically adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions of different terminals. In addition to the grid system, Foundation provides the following templates:

  • Scroll bar
  • knot
  • Font
  • Menu bar and menus
  • Media container
  • Integrate visibility layers

Foundation is based on Sass, and just like Bootstrap, from version 4 onwards. Sass is a stylesheet language that simplifies the creation and editing of CSS files. However, this ZURB framework lacks the support from Less (also a stylesheet language) that Bootstrap provides. While there is hardly any difference in the size of the JavaScript plugin and the CSS snippet, there are significantly fewer templates for Foundation and less support from other platforms.

The ZURB framework clearly outperforms the Twitter solution when it comes to the individuality of the developed user interface. The CSS code below gives access to a compact design that can be easily adjusted to your own requirements. Some classes are directly linked – unlike Bootstrap – without you having to add them first. Another benefit: ZURB offers several courses and personalized support for your user interface project as well as a special version of the framework for designing e-mail newsletters.

If you want to use Foundation to develop your interface, you can download the complete set or separately compiled package from the designed components for free on the official website.


  • ✔ Beautiful program code
  • ✔ Implemented CSS Classes
  • ✔ Support available


  • ✘Only some models are available
  • ✘ Problems with older (or outdated) versions of Internet Explorer
  • ✘ Less support


Yahoo released Pure.CSS in mid-2013, a basic structure for user interface development. It is considered a good Bootstrap alternative but can also be used in conjunction with the Twitter framework. Pure is based on the Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS (SMACSS), which ensures that repeating elements like tables, buttons or forms are isolated from the underlying design (fonts, layouts, etc.) ) and have their own conventions.

Within the Yahoo framework, each module has a default class name with a ‘pure’ prefix for common design as well as additional class names for specific rules that apply to submodules. In Pure.CSS, you can integrate a form that holds everything and then specify the default class name ‘pure-form’ and the subclass name ‘pure-form-stacked’.

The UI Framework, which can be downloaded in responsive and non-responsive versions, contains the following six modules, approximately 4 KB in size in compressed, compressed (16 KB when unpacked):

  • Base (base-min.css): framework base consisting of rules
  • Grid (grid-responsive-min.css): flexible, responsive grid system
  • Form (form-min.css / form-nr-min.css): form
  • Buttons (button-min.css): different buttons
  • Tables (table-min.css): table
  • Menu (menu-min.css / menu-nr-min.css): menu

All modules are built on the open source Normalize.css stylesheet, like Bootstrap components and many other CSS frameworks. This stylesheet replaces the default styles of HTML elements through optimized, cross-browser styles. However, compared to Twitter’s front end framework, the Yahoo equivalent doesn’t contain any JavaScript apps, even if you could integrate them yourself. Pure.CSS is not only a finished user interface that should be tailored to suit your own needs, but also a starting point for your project and therefore associated with more freedom. much.

Yahoo hosts the framework on its own Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) (Yahoo CDN), so you can integrate it into the < head > section of your project with a simple link. Of course, you can download Pure.CSS and host it yourself. The current link to the CDN as well as the downloads can be found on the official website.


  • ✔ Minimalist Design
  • ✔ Top quality browser compatibility
  • ✔ No need for self-storage


  • ✘ Very few models available
  • ✘ Support no less / Sass
  • ✘ No JavaScript code

Semantic User Interface In 2013, programmer Jack Lukic published his framework solution for user interface development called Semantic UI. The purpose of this collection is to simplify HTML coding through an intuitive, user-friendly convention. Semantic UI contains more than 3,000 semantic CSS classes, easy to use and optimize the development process. The basic Bootstrap package contains only one theme, but Semantic UI offers more than 20 different designs in the standard version. The scope is somewhat more complex than that of the Twitter framework: in addition to the basic CSS and JavaScript files, the basic package includes the fonts, the PHP Package Editor, the Bower Web File Manager, and the Gulp JavaScript task runner.

The individual components are classified into the following six areas:

  • Globals : type definition based on normalize.css; typography and design basis.
  • Components: generic UI elements like buttons, icons, containers, and many more.
  • Collections: structural content such as grids, menus, tables, and forms.
  • Views: interactive elements such as comment boxes, news feeds, and promotional banners.
  • Modules: widgets like drop-down menus, pop-ups, and checkboxes.
  • Behavior: interface for JavaScript programming.

For starters, Semantic UI’s naming system is confusing at first and takes a while to get used to. The effort pays off in the end as your web UI’s HTML code is much easier to read than comparable frameworks like Twitter’s Bootstrap, which can certainly benefit in revisions after that.

There is a Semantic UI except in CSS or Less versions. There is also a version of Sass where the semantic framework is similar to Bootstrap in that respect. One big downside of this Bootstrap alternative is the fact that many components depend on JavaScript and won’t work without the scripting language. You can download Semantic UI in the download area of ​​the official website, integrate files on the JSDELIVR Content Delivery Network via the link, or access individual code snippets in the framework’s GitHub repository.


  • ✔ Over 3,000 Semantic CSS Classes
  • ✔ Sass support and less
  • ✔ Great integration capabilities (React, Ember, Meteor, PHP package manager, Gulp)


  • ✘ Very complicated
  • ✘ Most CSS elements only work with JavaScript


UIkit is an open source solution for user interface programming. It is developed by Hamburg-based company YOOtheme, which has extensive experience developing web applications as well as themes for WordPress, Joomla and the in-house website builder YOOtheme Pro.

The rich collection of HTML, CSS and JavaScript elements is under the free MIT license and can therefore be used and modified easily. All CSS snippets exist in both Less and Sass versions so the style templates can be tailored to the needs of experienced programmers.

There are over 30 core modules of this Bootstrap alternative, built on top of normalize.css, like the previous examples as well as the Twitter framework. Due to this reason, current internet browsers have no problem rendering UIkit web projects.

Core components are divided into the following six categories:

  • Defaults: the basis for normalizing HTML elements on which cross-browser capabilities are implemented, as well as some basic styling precepts.
  • Layout: tools for designing user interfaces, for example grid systems, content boxes, and useful CSS classes for repetitive content.
  • Navigation: all the elements that help visitors explore your web interface; there are modules for pagination (page numbering) as well as classic navigation bars.
  • Element : style for independent content blocks such as tables, lists, and forms.
  • Common: elements that you often use in your content, such as buttons, icons, badges, or animations.
  • JavaScript: mainly JavaScript-based modules for implementing interactive elements.

UIkit provides different responsive classes to prepare content for different display sizes. Predefined breakpoints – for example 1,200 pixels for extremely large screens or 497 pixels for small smartphone screens – can be created using the online customizer. To avoid complications with other CSS snippets or frameworks, all classes are identified with the ‘uk’ prefix. Not integrated into the core framework, but optionally additional CSS and JavaScript elements, required to implement more complex web interfaces if they are equipped with an included admin section login features, HTML editor and file upload.

Despite the considerable range of functionality, the file sizes of individual components as well as the framework as a whole are surprisingly small. This can be extended by a very detailed documentation, which makes the introduction much easier – even if Bootstrap is one step ahead in terms of theme selection and tutorial coverage. However, UIkit has about 1,500 forks on GitHub, where you can find and download all the modules for the front end framework. The complete package is also available for download from the official website. However, it is not possible to pre-select modules so that you can delete them later in the unzipped folder.


  • ✔ Optional additional components for complex web interfaces
  • ✔ Sass support and less
  • ✔ Theme customization


  • ✘Low familiarity

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