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Designing a website from scratch can be a very time-consuming experience. And while web designers always welcome shortcuts, maintaining quality is still a top priority.
That’s the beauty of a good CSS framework. It can provide you with a comprehensive set of responsive layouts and UI elements. This helps to get your projects off to a quick start, while still allowing plenty of room for customization.
Today, we’ll introduce you to a selection of the top modern CSS frameworks available. Some you may have heard of, while others may be completely new to you. But each offers a variety of useful, cutting-edge features that can improve your workflow. Let’s get started!
Frameworks Focused on CSS
What separates Tailwind from many other frameworks is that it doesn’t come with any prebuilt UI components. Instead, it’s focused more on utility, with CSS classes that give you a head start on building out a site. Elements such as sizing, color and positioning are key here.
Built around CSS Flexbox, Bulma is a free and open source framework. Inside you’ll find a number of easy-to-customize UI elements. It’s modular, meaning you can import just the elements you want – like columns or buttons.
Picnic CSS has been developed to be super lightweight and comes in under 10KB when compressed. It features Flexbox-based grid layouts, along with plenty of UI elements to get your project off to a quick start. You’ll even find a simple navigation bar and modal windows.
Coming in at just 3.8KB when compressed, Pure.css is centered around a mobile-first philosophy. And it’s modular, so you can import just the element packages you want to use. There are also a number of common layouts that you can download and install.
Base is a modular framework that, as its name indicates, aims to provide a solid foundation for your design projects. It’s been built on top of Normalize.css and provides basic styles that are easy to customize. You won’t find anything too fancy here, but that’s the point!
With mini.css, you get a package that looks to strike a balance between being lightweight and packed with features. And it really hits the mark, coming in at around 10KB compressed while boasting a fairly large number of UI elements and layouts. There’s also a good bit of documentation, so you can really dive in and see how everything works.
Urging designers to “give up the bloat”, Concise CSS offers a utility-based framework to get you off to a fast start. Need UI elements? You can add those in via a separate kit.
Mobi.css is tiny (2.6KB gzipped) and is focused mainly on speed for mobile users. However, there’s room for growth with a built-in theme and plugin system. If the basic styles don’t provide everything you’re looking for, it’s possible to build on top of the framework in a modular way.
Billed as being “Lightweight, Responsive, Modern”, Spectre.css is a Flexbox-based framework. Included you’ll find some basic layout, UI and typography styles. Plus, there are a number of functional components (accordions, popovers, tabs, etc.) that have been built with pure CSS. Overall there’s a nice balance achieved here.
Frameworks That Go Beyond CSS
Created by Twitter, Bootstrap is pretty much everywhere these days. But that’s because it’s well-maintained and offers a massive library of prebuilt features. And while you can roll with the default setup, Bootstrap is also quite extensible. Adding themes or custom components to the mix will help personalize the UI even further.
Sometimes, frameworks can include CSS class names that make sense only to their original developer. Semantic UI looks to change that narrative by using natural language. The logic is easy to follow and should make for quicker development. Beyond language, you’ll find over 3,000 theming variables – all of which you can edit or remove, depending on need. In all, there are tons of layout and UI possibilities here.
Build It Better with a Framework
Getting your project off the ground takes a lot of work – that’s why frameworks exist. They handle some of that heavy lifting for us and provide the basis for everything that comes after.
Whatever type of head start you’re looking for, it’s likely that one of the selections above will be the perfect fit.