8 Best CSS Frameworks You Will Love In 2021

By – HtmlCssMonk

Web Developers used to spend a lot of time creating beautiful CSS.

Thanks to the CSS frameworks, we now have a better, faster, and more effective way to build responsive websites and web applications.

How does CSS frameworks work?

CSS framework gives web developers a basic structure, which includes grid, interactive UI patterns, web typography, tooltips, buttons, form elements, icons. This structure helps web developers to start quickly and efficiently when they are designing a website or web applications.

That means developers can free themselves from starting everything from scratch. CSS framework will create a solid foundation for them. Besides, developers can also reuse code in all projects they work on.

But how do you know your framework is the best for the job at hand? Also, if you’re new to front-end development, which framework should help you pick?

So, to ease out your nerves, I have compiled a list of the 8 Best CSS frameworks in 2021 !

Top 8 CSS Frameworks in 2021

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is the world’s best CSS framework with large community support. This framework has built in HTML, SASS, and javascript.

The credit for the development of Bootstrap goes to the makers of Twitter. Originally, Bootstrap was called ‘Twitter Blueprint’. The name Bootstrap came into existence in 2011. 

This is by far the most popular CSS framework for good reasons. For Front-end framework, they are the go-to for many web developers. As a matter of fact, the popularity of CSS being used as a framework option for web development is largely due to Bootstrap.

Pros of Bootstrap

  • Most popular frontend framework: Bootstrap is among the most popular open source projects in existence. You can always find solutions to problems you run into and discover plenty of free and premium templates for almost any kind of project.
  • Fully-featured: It’s not solely a development framework, but also a pre-built dynamic template with countless ready-to-use components. Almost anything, from alerts to modals to navigation bars, is supported by default. This can make it easier for any developer, even without prior frontend experience, to develop well-structured pages.
  • Customizable: Bootstrap is easily customizable using SASS. You can install the project with npm, import the parts you need, and use SASS variables to customize almost everything. Learning how to customize Bootstrap websites with SASS can significantly cut your development time.
  • Mature and supported: Many smaller open source projects die when the authors decide to quit. Bootstrap was originally introduced by Twitter, and it’s now maintained by a community of hundreds of developers, ensuring stable releases and long-term support.

Cons of Bootstrap

  • Hard to override: Bootstrap comes with a very specific design and look, which is hard to override in case you’re going for a different style. Since it uses the !important CSS rule extensively, overriding the defaults can be tricky.
  • Overused: The main reason why people dislike Bootstrap is its wide usage. It offers a distinct look which is so overused that developers have coined the phrase “all Bootstrap websites look the same”.
  • Relies on jQuery: Unlike other frameworks that are CSS-only, Bootstrap 4 relies on jQuery for many of its interactive features. This makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to use it together with JavaScript frameworks such as React or Vue. Luckily though, Bootstrap 5, which will be released soon, will remove the jQuery dependency.
  • Heavy to include: All of Bootstrap’s features come with a price — it’s quite heavy to include in your projects. Even though you can import parts of the project, it’s not as lightweight or modular as other frameworks listed here.

Ideal for –

  • A beginner who is new to CSS, as he or she can kick start Bootstrap without any hurdles.
  • A developer with little knowledge of JavaScript who can still use Bootstrap components without writing a line in JS.
  • A back-end developer who wants to make some UI changes even if he or she is new to both HTML and CSS.

2. Foundation

ZURB designed the Foundation in September 2011. In comparison to other best CSS frameworks in 2021, Foundation flaunts an advanced and sophisticated interface. One of its most prized possessions is the responsive menu and compatibility on various devices and browsers. You can also easily style the menu according to your requirements using the CSS framework.

The best thing about the Foundation is that it gives a lot of room for designers to show their creativity. Thanks to the super-responsive CSS framework, designers can follow a design-the-site-yourself approach which gives them a sense of control over a project.

Pros of Foundation

  • Generic style: Unlike Bootstrap, Foundation doesn’t use a distinct style for its components. Its wide range of modular and flexible components feature minimal styling and can easily be customized.
  • Fully-featured: Foundation comes with built-in components for almost everything. Navigation bars, multiple container types, and a developer-friendly grid system are all included. Foundation also gives you access to pre-made HTML templates, created either by the development team or the community, that you can use to start projects based on your exact needs.
  • Email design: Aesthetic email templates are notoriously hard to build. To support older email clients, developers are forced to write 1990s-era HTML code. This makes it hard to deliver modern features such as responsive design. Foundation for Emails can help you create responsive email templates for any client, including old versions of Microsoft Outlook.
  • Animations: Foundation can easily be integrated with ZURB’s Motion UI library, which lets you create transitions and animations using built-in effects. Using Motion UI along with Foundation will bring your designs to life!

Cons of Foundation

  • Hard to learn: Foundation comes with almost too many options. It has countless features, and it’s considerably 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.
  • Relies on Javascript: Many of Foundation’s features rely on Javascript, using jQuery or Zepto. Zepto is a library that works with the same syntax as jQuery but comes with a smaller footprint. This makes Foundation less than ideal for React or Angular projects.

Ideal for –

  • Professional, highly skilled developers and designers whose aim is to create a unique website and wants to customize the framework.

3. Pure CSS

PureCSS features a set of CSS modules that are ideal for different kinds of projects. Even though the modules are small, they are responsive. As a result, you can easily create websites that are responsive, faster, and aesthetically pleasing. The credit for the development of this CSS framework goes to Yahoo.

Some of the salient features of the platform include a built-in design with high responsiveness and Standard CSS having a minimal footprint. The best thing about PureCSS is that it’s absolutely free to use!

Pros of PureCSS

  • Tiny: Every line of CSS was carefully considered and written to make the framework lightweight and performant.
  • Customizable: You can import Pure in a modular way and implement only what you need.
  • Well supported: Unlike community projects, Pure is supported by Yahoo, which makes the project a safe choice for long-term use.
  • Ready-made components: Pure comes with pre-made components that are responsive and built for the modern web.

Cons of PureCSS

  • For experienced developers: Pure is not suited for less experienced or small teams, as you will need to create your own designs to make use of the framework.

Ideal for –

  • Those who don’t need a full-featured framework but only specific components to include in their work.

4. Tailwind

Tailwind is a utility-first framework you can use for the rapid building of UIs. It’s a CSS library that is utility-based that prefers practicality and speed over a semantic and lean markup. All you need to determine thoroughly is the scope of your project. Based on that, it’s easy to create an entire website without having to write your own CSS.

Tailwind does not come with a default theme. You also won’t find any UI components that are built-in. But there is a predesigned widgets menu you can work with for building a website.

Pros of Tailwind

  • Atomic CSS: Centering an element, creating a flexible layout, or using a specific text color are all things you would normally code in CSS. Tailwind makes all these common styles easy to implement by offering powerful utility classes.
  • No design: Tailwind doesn’t come with pre-made components or a specific design language. This means that you won’t have to override existing styles and can be more productive when implementing custom designs.
  • Reusable components: Even though Tailwind doesn’t include any pre-designed components, it allows you to create your own custom components that you can reuse throughout your projects. You can also find some component examples on the official website that you can use as a starting point.
  • Powerful PostCSS/SASS integration: To get the most out of Tailwind, you need to install and import it into your SASS or PostCSS project. This allows you to make use of all of Tailwind’s features to write more effective CSS.

Cons of Tailwind

  • Steep learning curve: Tailwind is not the best choice for less experienced developers. Since it doesn’t provide pre-made components, you need to fully understand how frontend technologies work. Tailwind’s learning curve is somewhat steep as you have to learn the syntax to be productive with the framework.
  • Not to be used directly: Tailwind can be added to your project as a bundled CSS file, similar to other frameworks. However, the official installation guide explains that if you add the framework like this, many of its features will be unavailable and you won’t have access to the compressed version (27 KB compressed vs 348 KB raw).

5. Materialize CSS

Developed by Google, Materialize CSS is a blend of clever CSS and top-notch design aesthetics

Materialize is basically a library featuring a combination of various components of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. It boasts responsiveness and less browser compatibility testing issues as the two primary design principles.

If you are looking forward to building a classy UI, Materialize contains a plethora of custom CSS to help you accomplish a unique website design.

Pros of Materialize CSS

  • Material design: This design language is widely used and people are familiar with it. This can make your own creations easy to use for your target audience.
  • Fully-featured: Materialize CSS includes pre-made components for almost everything, but also comes with more advanced Javascript features to support interactions.
  • Mobile-friendly: You can create progressive web apps using the framework’s mobile-like components such as the floating navigation bar and swipe interactions.

Cons of Materialize CSS

  • Strict design language: If you’re looking to do something that’s not close to material design, it’s better to avoid Materialize.
  • Independent project: Materialize has an active community, but it’s a small and independent project with no corporate support.

Ideal for –

  • It is accessible to everyone and easy to pick up quickly.

6. Bulma

Bulma is a Flexbox-based open-source and one of the best CSS frameworks in 2021. More than 200,000 developers use it all over the world. It helps developers understand how they can codify a component. Even if you need a visual component, Bulma is here to your rescue.

The frontend framework uses various techniques for providing front-end developers with a cohesive interface. Moreover, thanks to the responsive templates, we can focus better on the content rather than fretting over the code the entire time.

Pros of Bulma

  • Aesthetic design: In my personal opinion, Bulma is the best looking CSS framework in this list. It comes with a clean and modern design — even if you don’t change the defaults, you’ll end up with a great-looking webpage.
  • Modern: Technologies come and go, and what once used to be complex 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 goal of frontend developers is to provide a great experience to the end-user, Bulma’s creators aim to provide a great experience to the developer. With that in mind, Bulma comes with naming conventions that are easy to use and remember.
  • Easy to customize: Bulma’s colors, paddings, and many default properties can be customized using SASS. This way you can set up your project’s defaults in a matter of minutes.

Cons of Bulma

  • Distinct style: Bulma’s unique style can be a double-edged sword. Since it’s quite distinct, if it gets overused, we can end up with very similar-looking websites, as is the case with Bootstrap.
  • Less complete: Bulma is competing with Boostrap in many cases, but it’s not as complete when it comes to accessibility and other enterprise-grade features.

Ideal for –

  • From beginner to pro, any developer can use it due to its simplicity.

7. UIKit

UIKit is a modular and lightweight front-end CSS framework. If you are aiming to develop powerful and fast web interfaces, UIKit is one way to go. It features a comprehensive collection of CSS, HTML, and JS components. This makes the frontend framework extendible, simple to customize, and easy to use.

It’s one of the most widely used frontend frameworks for the development of iOS applications. UIKit defines the core components such as buttons, labels, navigation controllers, and table views. Basically, UIKit is the future of developing apps on Apple’s platforms.

Pros of UIKit

  • Dozens of components: UIKit contains dozens of components, allowing you to implement complex frontend layouts. It includes all the typical utilities and components, but it goes even further by giving you access to advanced elements such as navigation bars, off-canvas sidebars, and parallax designs.
  • Extensible: UIKit can be easily customized and extended using the LESS or SASS preprocessors.
  • UI-based customizer: UIKit offers a web-based customizer that lets you customize the design in real-time, then copy the SASS or LESS variables into your project. This part of UIKit can really feel like magic and help you start new projects in no time.

Cons of UIKit

  • Complex for smaller projects: UIKit is not recommended for less experienced developers, as it’s a complex framework that requires you to understand frontend development in depth. It’s great for advanced applications, but it might be too much for smaller projects.
  • Smaller community: Even though its npm package is downloaded 27,000 times a week, it’s not nearly as popular as other frameworks. Finding answers or hiring people with UIKit experience will not be as easy as with Bootstrap or Foundation.

Ideal for –

Professional and highly experienced developers because of the lack of available learning resources.

8. Semantic UI

Semantic UI is one of the best CSS frameworks in 2021, developed by Jack Lukic. He is a full-stack developer who used the Natural language principles to create the Semantic UI framework. Powered by jQuery and LESS, Semantic UI flaunts a sleek, flat, and subtle look. This contributes to the lightweight user experience.

It has a comparatively small community. But the members are enthusiastic and loyal. The goal here is to create a language to share UI and empower developers and designers alike. The Semantic UI community has already made about 3000+ themes.

Pros of Semantic UI

  • Well organized: Semantic UI offers very well-organized documentation. Moreover, the framework has a separate website with guides for getting started, customizing, and creating themes.
  • User-friendly: All Semantic UI classes are human words and coding resembles writing a regular text. This user-friendly approach makes it easier to grasp and understand the framework even for beginners

Cons of Semantic UI

  • Incompatibility: Not compatible with all devices.
  • Testing: More browser testing than with other frameworks because of this compatibility problem, so that can delay launching your site.

Ideal for –

  • Advanced developers, who know JavaScript well.

So, which CSS framework is the best?

The above list gives a detailed overview of the best CSS frameworks in 2021. Each framework has unique features and a variety of components which makes them preferable for your web applications. Depending on the requirement of your project, you can select the CSS framework accordingly.

We hope that you want to try some frameworks that we’ve shared with you today. Did we miss any framework? Feel free to let us know!

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