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Top 10 Best CSS Frameworks for Front-End Developers in 2023
Table of Contents
Can you imagine web development without CSS? Sounds pretty bleak to us! Cascading Style Sheets, known more popularly as CSS, offers unique styles to your web pages or HTML elements. You can control the layout of multiple web pages with a single style element or write custom CSS for different elements.
All CSS components are stored in .css files. As the web page count increases, so do the styling elements, and your CSS file becomes large at some point. Plus, there are a few different types of CSS already. If more people work on a project, it becomes difficult to manage who changed what styles, thus creating randomness in the code. But what is a CSS framework?
CSS frameworks are ready-to-use CSS style sheets or CSS libraries with already-coded web designs that offer web developers some relief, as they save them some work in developing code. Different frameworks are useful for different project requirements, and each has some unique features.
You may want to read the CSS Cheat Sheet for a quick brush-up of your CSS concepts.
Why Do We Need CSS Frameworks?
Apart from saving you time in coding work, here are some significant benefits of having a CSS framework:
- Cross-browser compatibility
- Symmetrical layouts
- Maintainable and device-friendly styling
- Good web design practices
- High productivity and speed of development
Top CSS Frameworks in 2023
Tailwind enables faster development of the front-end. Instead of a default theme or built-in UI components, you’d get pre-designed widget menus and utility classes to build your website. Tailwind has modular components, and if you make changes in one place, other parts of your code won’t get impacted. Tailwind requires the least amount of learning and is easy to use. You can also customize your website using Tailwind CSS helper classes.
- It is a utility-first type of framework that provides tutorials.
- It gives you flexibility and freedom to choose your website’s design.
- Detailed documentation for each class allows you to search for what you need easily. (i.e.,Grid,Flexbox, etc.).
- More productivity and smaller package size.
- No naming or context-switching, i.e., switching between HTML and CSS to see the changes.
- You can elegantly reuse code with the Components feature.
Ideal for: Small businesses and beginners
Github Link: https://github.com/tailwindlabs/tailwindcss
Bootstrap is one of the most popular CSS frameworks globally and received instant popularity because of its responsive design. It was also the first framework that gave priority to mobile devices. With Bootstrap, there is no need for a separate design for mobile viewing. You just need to add the necessary classes, and the website will adapt to the screen size based on the device. The grid was introduced in Bootstrap, which led to a drastic reduction in the code a developer has to write.
- Compatible with all browsers – no need to write browser-specific code allowing for rapid prototyping.
- The most commonly used CSS framework with broad community support,
- Built-in components like navigation, forms, cards, buttons, badges, etc.
- Free to use – and version 4.5 has more pre-set layouts and responsiveness.
Ideal for:People and businesses that want both user-friendliness and high customization capabilities.
Github Link: https://github.com/twbs/bootstrap
One of the most advanced and sophisticated UI frameworks, Foundation enables quick website development. Just like Bootstrap, Foundation follows a mobile-first approach and is fully responsive. It is very suitable for huge web applications that need a lot of styling. Foundation is customizable, flexible, and semantic. And, there are over 2k contributors on Github and decent community support.
- Easy to use.
- A complete front-end framework loaded with useful tools, rather than just a CSS framework.
- Comes with a command-line interface (CLI) to compile Foundation sources to CSS that can be used in HTML markup.
- It was originally developed by the company ZURB but is now maintained by volunteers.
- Flexible, modular, and extensible.
- Flexible navigation patterns that save many lines of code, improving productivity.
Ideal for:Advanced developers that value privacy (open-source).
Github Link: https://github.com/foundation/foundation-sites
- Innovative design with SaaS variables that make customization simple even for beginners.
- Versatile framework and comes with typography, tables, components for vertical alignments, media objects, layout, etc.
- Free and open-source (MIT License).
- Flexbox-based, so that creation of vertically aligned and grid items is effortless.
- Since it is modular, you don’t need to import everything – only import the components that your project uses.
- It contains utility functions to calculate colors, visibility, spacing, etc.
Ideal for:Aspiring developers on a budget.
Github Link: https://github.com/jgthms/bulma
UI Kit has a comprehensive collection of CSS, HTML, and JS components. It is modular and lightweight. Used for iOS application development, UIKit is one of the bestfront-end CSS frameworks.
You can customize your app to any level with this framework. It contains all the core components like labels, buttons, table views, etc. There are plenty of ready-to-use themes, and you can use them using the corresponding SASS or LESS CSS file.
- Comes with many pre-built components like animations, Iconnav, padding, alert, accordion, etc.
- Clean and minimalist design with a modern interface.
- Self-contained system and takes more effort to extend or modify (when compared to other frameworks).
- Easy to set up.
- A free and open-source framework that works on any browser.
Ideal for:The developer in a rush that needs a user-friendly interface.
Github Link: https://github.com/uikit/uikit
Created by Google in 2014, Materialize is a responsive UI framework for websites and Android apps. It provides many ready-to-use components, classes, and starter templates. It is compatible with Sass and has a responsive layout based on Bootstrap’s 12-column grid format. The best part? Its extensive color palettes. So, if you want to work with Material Design (Google’s design language) and create Google-like effects on your website, Materialize CSS will be an excellent choice for you.
- Easy to work with and focuses on user experience by using principles of material design.
- Better in-built animations and transitions to speed up development.
- Plenty of themes and colors.
- Elegant padding and depth effects like lighting and shadows.
- Materialize requires only jQuery (unlike Bootstrap, which requires popper.js) and offers everything that Bootstrap offers – colors, shadows, grid, tables, badges, cards, chips, navbar, etc.
Ideal for:The colorful, creative designer.
Github Link: https://github.com/Dogfalo/materialize
As the name suggests, the Skeleton is a light framework. If your website is small and straightforward, Skeleton provides a necessary collection of CSS elements to speed up your development. It provides lightly styled forms, tabs, buttons, etc. You get a responsive grid, Vanilla CSS, and media queries for your project without the larger frameworks' complexities. It is a great framework for beginners who want to learn CSS and quickly create beautiful yet straightforward websites.
- Minimal framework with only 400 lines of source code.
- Easy to learn and mobile-focused with limited but important features like grids, buttons, typography, lists, forms, code, etc. included.
- More like a boilerplate than a full-fledged framework.
- No installation or compilation required – gives a quick start for newbies.
Ideal for: Smaller projects.
Github Link: https://github.com/dhg/Skeleton
At only 3.7 KB minified, Pure is the most compact CSS Framework around. Out of all the CSS frameworks, Pure will help you create awesome CSS Code without sacrificing space. You can add pure-min.css through free unpkg CDN in your code to use Pure. You can also install Pure using a package manager like npm, Grunt, etc.
- Only 3.7 KB in size (minified), the smallest of all the best CSS frameworks, and ideal when you need only a small set of CSS features.
- You can write your own custom elements and styles on top of the existing elements provided by default.
- It consists of a mobile-first and responsive grid system using grids-responsive CSS.
- It doesn’t support a fixed layout, unlike Bootstrap.
- Easy to customize as it has limited features and doesn’t require compilation
Ideal for:Developers tight on space.
Github Link: https://github.com/pure-css/pure
Semantic has a different concept — it builds a shared vocabulary around UI. Semantic is based on Natural Language Principles and gives developers more flexibility by making code easier to read and understand. Along with CSS elements, Semantic also includes HTML elements and debugging, and lets you define elements, views, modules, collections, and UI elements behaviors. It is responsive and mobile-friendly.
- Extensive and well-organized documentation for all components.
- More than 3,000 themes variables and 50 UI components that enable deep customization.
- Stricter coding conventions when compared to other CSS frameworks.
- Can be easily integrated with third-party libraries like Angular, React, and many other popular frameworks so you can organize application logic and UI components along with each other
Ideal for:HTML websites
Github Link: https://github.com/Semantic-Org/Semantic-UI
If you don’t know what graphic design is but want your web applications to look attractive, Tacit is an obvious choice. Add the tacit-CSS-1.5.2.min.css, and you will get a fantastic-looking website immediately. Tacit is also compliant with W3C validator requirements. The framework is relatively new and still in the making, but some of the features are worth using for the simple reason that it will give you a great design even when you have no idea about designing!
- No need to mention CSS class names in HTML elements.
- All styles are applied to standard HTML elements without changing the HTML itself.
- Ideal for small projects, you can write your own inline styles and classes on top of the framework for more complex projects.
- Tacit gives more importance to HTML rather than CSS, following a non-intrusive approach for styling.
Ideal for:The developer craving simplicity and effectiveness.
Github Link: https://github.com/yegor256/tacit
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which Is the Best CSS Framework?
That depends on the website you’re looking to build. The most popular CSS framework, however, is Bootstrap.
2. What Is a CSS Framework?
A CSS framework is a library of CSS stylesheets with pre-done code to help you design websites faster.
3. Why Do CSS Frameworks Use Preprocessors?
CSS frameworks use preprocessors to automate tasks.
4. Which Files Do You Need for CSS Frameworks?
There are plenty of CSS frameworks, but we have chosen the best CSS frameworks that matter in 2023. Out of these 10, we cannot say which one is best, as each has its own set of features. By choosing the right CSS framework for your needs, all the complicated and time-consuming styling is taken care of, and you can focus on writing business logic.
If you’re just starting out with CSS and UI, go for Tacit, Pure, or Skeleton. However, to build more complex elements, you’ll need a more inclusive framework like Foundation, Tailwind, or Bootstrap. You can get an easy learning curve through Bulma or Semantic UI.
Preparing for a front-end or full-stack developer interview? Check out our CSS interview questions.
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