Top 10 front-end frameworks in 2016 (Part 1)

Ngoc Huynh

Without further ado, here are the eight most popular front-end frameworks for 2016.

1. Bootstrap

This list would be woefully incomplete without the inclusion of the wildly popular front-end framework, Bootstrap. Created by Twitter developers and initially released in 2011, it’s the most used open-source framework in the world.

Like any effective front-end framework, Bootstrap includes CSS, HTML and JavaScript, or JS, components. It adheres to responsive web design standards, allowing you to develop responsive sites of all complexities and sizes.

Because it is updated continually, Bootstrap typically includes the latest and best features. For example, it added themes that met Google’s material design guidelines shortly after they were published, and it was also upgraded to use Sass as a CSS preprocessor.


  • Responsive web design support (can also be disabled if required)
  • Extensive documentation


  • Out-of-the-box file size of 276kB due to excessive number of rarely used styles
  • Excessive number of HTML classes and DOM elements can be messy and confusing

Ideal for: Beginners and those who prefer a robust front-end framework.

2. Semantic-UI

A relative newcomer on the scene, Semantic-UI stands out in a number of ways and is poised to become one of the most popular front-end frameworks out there.

This framework’s main claim to fame is its simplicity. Because it uses natural language, the code is self-explanatory. Even those with very little coding experience will feel fairly at home working with this framework.

Another notable feature of Semantic-UI is that it is integrated with a dizzying array of third-party libraries. So much so, in fact, that you probably won’t need to use any others. Therefore, the development process is a bit easier and more streamlined.


  • Semantic class names make for a low barrier of entry, so even beginners can hit the ground running
  • Small file sizes and minimal load times because you can load only the components that you need; each has its own JS file and stylesheet
  • Versatile elements make for easy customization


  • Very large packages when compared to Foundation and Bootstrap
  • Those with more complex design and development needs may find this framework lacking

Ideal for: Beginners and those who want a lightweight, nimble framework.

3. Foundation

Created by web design company Zurb, Foundation is a highly advanced, enterprise-grade front-end framework that is ideal for developing nimble, responsive websites. Used on sites like Facebook, eBay, and Mozilla, it is also fairly complex and may not be suitable for newbies.

This features-rich framework supports GPU acceleration for smooth, lightning-fast animations and Fastclick.js for fast rendering on mobile devices. It runs on the Sass preprocessor and includes the Foundation-developed data interchange attribute, which lets you load lightweight HTML sections for mobile and “heavier” HTML sections for larger screens. For a comparison between Foundation and Bootstrap, read our complete article, Bootstrap vs Foundation.


  • No style lock-in, so you have greater flexibility
  • Uses REMS instead of pixels, eliminating the need to explicitly state width, height and other attributes for each device


  • Fairly large file size out of the box
  • A bit too complex for beginners

Ideal for: Developers who have decent amounts of experience and who are primarily concerned with developing fast, attractive, responsive websites.

4. Materialize

The Materialize responsive front-end development framework also implements Google’s material design specifications and is loaded with ready-to-use buttons, icons, cards, forms and other components. It is offered in both a standard version and in one that runs on SASS.

Materialize includes a convenient IZ column grid feature that can be used for website layouts. It is also loaded with CSS that’s ready to use out of the box for material design shadows, typography, colors and other features.

Additional features include ripple-effect animation, drag-out mobile menus, SASS mixins and more.


  • Huge selection of components
  • Responsive support ensures that websites are supported across all devices


  • Large file size makes this a bulky framework to work with
  • No support for Flexbox model

Ideal for: Less experienced developers who need guidance regarding Google’s material design specifications.

5. Material UI

If you’re looking for a front-end framework that makes it easy to adhere to Google’s material design guidelines, you can’t go wrong with Material UI. It is by far the most elaborate framework to implement these guidelines thus far, but there is one caveat: It isn’t meant to be a starting point for a brand-new web design project.

Loaded with ready-to-use CSS and material design-compliant components, Material UI is built on top of the LESS preprocessor. Because it uses React components, however, a decent grasp of React is a plus.

Highly customizable, Material UI includes styles that are separated into individual files, so you can override LESS CSS variables without affecting framework components.


  • Easiest way to meet Google’s material design guidelines when using a framework
  • Highly customizable


  • Not intended to serve as a starting point for from-scratch web design projects
  • Need a decent understanding of React to use effectively

Ideal for: Developers who understand and have experience with React and who need an easy way to adhere to material design guidelines.

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