Compare and find your new choice of free responsive CSS frameworks that are lightweight and feature-rich with styled UI components. The advantages of using a CSS framework in your project outweigh the disadvantages. Some of the advantages are clean code, grid design, pre-built UI components, easy for your team to manage, ease of accessibility features, and documentation. In short, you get your project done in less time with fewer workforce.
Lightweight frameworks are favored by many experienced developers as they give a jumpstart to designing a website or mobile app. Large CSS frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation might be hard to manage for larger projects. But with the help of LESS and SASS preprocessors, we get the option to modify the CSS output for better performance.
I have chosen to include only responsive frameworks which will scale easily on multiple mobile, tablet, desktop devices. Share in your comments and let us know if we missed any important frameworks here.
Mobile responsive designs are the need of the hour. Every website is required to be responsive so that users can easily view the websites on a variety of devices and screens. All frameworks are made with mobile-first approach strategy. Let us take a look at these responsive CSS frameworks that can help you develop websites which look perfect on all screens.
|Bootstrap||Bulma||Materialize||Pure CSS||Tailwind CSS||MDB||Spectre||Foundation||UIkit||Semantic UI||Tachyons||Milligram||Chota|
What is a CSS framework ?
Frameworks have been used for years now to build websites since they essentially remove most of the groundwork. This gives you the ability to concentrate on designing the website without having to start from scratch. With the help of a framework, you can save time by not having to repeat common code. CSS frameworks come with a set of rules and mixins that help you utilize responsive grids and spacing for your website.
What is CSS reset and why is it important?
There was a time when styles did not have a form of standardization. In web design, browsers have helped us bridge most of the styling issues. Browsers apply their own default parameters if you choose not to define the parameters in your style sheet. This sometimes ends up giving your website a different look depending on the browser your users may be using.
This is where a CSS reset file comes in. With the help of CSS Reset, you can reset all these browser styles to zero. This means that visitors will not see any styles on your website which you did not apply to your style sheet.
Which framework is best for web development?
Frameworks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Web designers sometimes choose heavy frameworks which offer more web styles and at times they use frameworks that are lightweight. Remember that choosing a heavy framework may make work easy for you, but the footprint or page speed might be affected if you don’t customize it well.
On the other hand, if you use a lighter framework, the chances of adding your own creativity and coding effort are higher. It however gives you the chance to customize your website according to your vision instead of dictating the style of the website.
As a designer, you may end up working with both types of frameworks, but when it comes to choosing between the two, a good CSS framework will always allow you to integrate the functionality of the framework with your visualization of the website without bloating the website with its own designs.
Bootstrap and Foundation has a large footprint but they let you customize according to your website requirements reducing the overall footprint of CSS and JS files.
Responsive CSS Frameworks
Bootstrap 5 Framework (Official website)
CSS Minified: 152KB CSS gzipped: 22.4KB
JS Minified: 78KB JS gzipped: 21.8KB
This is the most popular CSS framework that has been fine tuned to make mobile responsive websites over the last decade. The mobile-first approach makes it easier to build websites that modern-day businesses need. Every web developer at some point will atleast try Bootstrap. Many job prospects require frontend developers to have some knowledge of Bootstrap or grid based frameworks.
- Pre-built components
- SASS for custom CSS
- Supports extra small devices
- Grid layouts & flexbox
- Easy to use
- Bulky in size
- Websites look the same
Bulma (Official website)
CSS Minified: 200KB CSS gzipped: 27.2KB
- Pure CSS
- SASS for custom CSS
- Lots of UI components
- Grid & Flexbox
- Great community
- Modal doesn’t work without JS
- Bulky size
- No small breakpoints
Materialize (Official website)
CSS Minified: 139KB CSS gzipped: 20.9KB
JS Minified: 177KB JS gzipped: 41.6KB
Materialize uses material design created by Google for its core CSS styles. The grid layout of this framework is similar to other CSS frameworks, however, it differs in UI design with its shadows and material UI colors.
- SASS for custom CSS
- Sleek design
- Clean classes
- Easy to copy snippets
- Not updated for sometime
- No Flexbox
Pure CSS (Official website)
CSS Minified: 18KB CSS gzipped: 2.8KB
This is a lightweight CSS framework and used by many developers for quick website projects. All modules are responsive and every CSS line carefully thought-out.
- Only 2.8KB
- Clean code
- Grid Layout
- No SASS
- Very basic use
Its greatest advantage is the beginner friendly use of classes and its smart coding. This framework outputs the CSS stylesheet with the classes you use in your HTML code, which is awesome for high performance websites. You need nodeJS to make this work for your project unlike other CSS frameworks, this option is a deal breaker for many.
- Smartly coded with JS
- Clean modular code
- Grid & Flexbox Layout
- Too many classes
- Boring HTML
- The free version is useless
- Need nodeJS to work
Semantic UI Framework
Semantic empowers designers and developers by creating a language for sharing UI. Lose the Hieroglyphics: Semantic is structured around natural language conventions to make development more intuitive. Have a conversation with your components: Semantic gives you a variety of UI components with real-time debug output, letting your code tell you what its doing.
Foundation 5 is built with Sass, a powerful CSS preprocessor, which allows us to much more quickly develop Foundation itself and gives you new tools to quickly customize and build on top of Foundation.
UIkit gives you a comprehensive collection of HTML, CSS, and JS components. It can be extended with themes and is easy to customize to create your own look.
Let us know which one you find useful and if we missed a feature to compare. We are on a look for new CSS frameworks that make an impact on website design and the mobile app development process.