Best CSS Frameworks To Look Forward In 2021
Web Development •
41002 Views | 18 Min Read
In today’s web ecosystem, websites or tools play a significant role, and their presentation layer is powered by using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). A fascinating website can inevitably bring in more customers or viewers, which you can use in different ways to enhance the product’s effectiveness. Web developers can leverage some of the best CSS frameworks to create user-friendly and browser compatible websites and web pages. The main benefit of using the CSS framework is that it saves time, as you don’t need to begin from scratch.
Why Use CSS Frameworks?
Before we begin, it’s essential to know why CSS frameworks are an integral part of web development. Following are the main benefits of using CSS frameworks.
- Using a CSS framework, we can enhance our development process by using the predefined classes and ids for forms, breadcrumbs, navbar, buttons etc.
- CSS frameworks help to build cross browser compatible websites that render seamlessly across every browser and browser versions.
- By incorporating a good CSS framework, you can boost your productivity and optimise your development workflow.
- You can even create clean symmetrical layouts.
Best CSS Frameworks For 2021
With several CSS frameworks available, it can be hard to find good CSS frameworks. Therefore, I’ve curated this list of the best CSS Frameworks for 2021 based on the satisfaction ratio ranking presented by the State of CSS report for 2020.
1. Tailwind CSS
Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that is different from other best CSS frameworks like Bulma, Bootstrap where you get pre-designed components, which you can use as a base for further development. It does not come with a predefined template but allows you to incorporate your unique style quickly.
Advantages Of Tailwind CSS Framework
- It operates on a lower level by providing a developer with a set of CSS helper classes.
- It is not firmly opinionated and gives the flexibility to create unique designs.
- Tailwind CSS precise documentation for separate classes helps users to understand them quickly as per their requirement.
- The utility first design paradigm gives a lot of freedom, and one can create complex designs by using essential building utilities.
- Tailwind has less cognitive load as it is designed to be component friendly and encourages breaking down into smaller reusable components.
- You can use libraries like Purge CSS to reduce the CSS build size drastically with Tailwind CSS.
- Tailwind’s syntax is fundamental and thus gives more incredible development speed to the developer. You don’t need to switch continuously between the CSS and HTML code, reducing the context switches and improving the development speed a lot. For example, for using ‘display: flex’ in your design, you just need to add ‘flex’ in your class in the HTML element.
Disadvantages Of Tailwind CSS Framework
There are some drawbacks too for the Tailwind CSS framework.
- Readability can be an issue for some developers as so many classes can be there for styling.
- Complex animations are hard to achieve with Tailwind alone.
- Tailwind CSS has a steep learning curve and is not intended for novice developers.
Who Is Using The Tailwind CSS Framework?
Companies like BlaBlaCar, OnlineDoctor, Hubblr, Superchat use Tailwind CSS in their tech stack.
Most web developers choose them for front-end frameworks. In general, Bootstrap is primarily responsible for CSS’s popularity as a framework alternative for web development.
Advantages Of Bootstrap CSS Framework
- It is a 100% responsive framework, and responsiveness is a crucial factor due to which people choose Bootstrap over its competitor.
- Bootstrap’s code utilizes the two most popular preprocessors LESS and SASS.
- It uses media queries to make the code work on any device, be it mobile or web.
- Bootstrap is one of the best-documented frameworks out there and has a large developer community.
- It has a prevalent grid system based on flexbox and provides reusable components like tables, navbars, dropdowns, etc.
- It saves a lot of time and is a good framework in terms of usage and popularity. It has a shallow learning curve.
- Developers using Bootstrap will rarely land into browser compatibility issues due to its well-maintained and well-tested codebase.
Disadvantages Of Bootstrap CSS Framework
With a vast number of advantages, there are some drawbacks too for Bootstrap.
- The build size of CSS projects is large due to so many modules being loaded in Bootstrap. You can’t select the specific components you want; you need to customize the codebase at your peril to reduce the same.
- The sites or frontends built with Bootstrap look pretty similar, and extensibility is not that great in Bootstrap.
Who Is Using The Bootstrap CSS Framework?
Companies like Twitter, Udemy, Linkedin, Spotify, Lyft use Bootstrap.
3. Pure CSS
Pure CSS is considered to be one of the best CSS frameworks. Pure CSS is built on Normalize.css and developed by Yahoo. It comprises a set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project. Websites that are intuitive, faster, and visually appealing can be quickly built.
Advantages Of Pure CSS Framework
- It is a minimalist framework that uses Normalize.css as its base and is made with the mobile first design in mind. It is highly responsive out of the box.
- It is customisable as it gives the freedom to overwrite the existing rules for design and thus is less opinionated.
- It has a minimal memory footprint and reduces further if a developer decides to use a subset of the available modules in Pure CSS.
Disadvantages Of Pure CSS Framework
There are some drawbacks to this framework.
- There is not a significant development community for Pure CSS.
- Only a limited number of design templates are available under Pure CSS.
Who Is Using The Pure CSS Framework?
Companies like Flickr.com, Synology.com, Wizters use the Pure CSS framework.
4. Bulma CSS
Bulma is another best CSS Framework based on flexbox. It is a 100% responsive open-source CSS library and includes a variety of predefined components. Bulma utilizes a system known as tiles to build grids, which makes the page sleek and smooth. It has a lightweight structure that allows you to import only the elements you want to use in your modern web design.
Advantages Of Bulma CSS Framework
- It follows a modular design approach and is highly customisable. It has predefined responsive templates, which helps the developer focus more on content than the presentation layer. It comes with many components like dropdown menus, nav bars, panels, tables, etc.
- The syntax of Bulma is quite simple and easy to use.
- Bulma is CSS only, i.e. the only output is one CSS file (bulma.css) and is very well documented.
- It is an environment agnostic framework and sits on top of the logic layer.
Disadvantages Of Bulma CSS Framework
There are some disadvantages to the Bulma framework.
- It runs a bit slow on the IE web browser.
- It does not have a huge development community.
Who Is Using The Bulma CSS Framework?
Companies like Django, Tipoff, Rubrik use Bulma.
5. Foundation CSS
Advantages Of Foundation CSS Framework
- It consists of dynamic tools to tackle almost all types of front-end issues.
- Easy to understand and readable code.
- Foundation CSS will help you develop responsive email designs for the users, including earlier versions of Microsoft Outlook.
- Foundation integrates seamlessly with ZURB’s Motion UI library, allowing users to build transitions and animations with predefined effects.
- Foundation has lightweight and scalable components that have minimal styling and can be easily customized.
Disadvantages Of Foundation CSS Framework
There are also some disadvantages of the Foundation framework.
- It has several features and is inherently more complicated than other frameworks. Though it offers enough flexibility when creating frontend templates, you must first thoroughly understand how it works.
- There isn’t a lot of support for QA websites and fixing bugs.
Who Is Using The Foundation CSS Framework?
Companies like Accenture, Nubank, LaunchDarkly etc., use the Foundation framework.
6. Skeleton CSS
Skeleton is a super-light or boilerplate CSS framework designed for the development of responsive and mobile-friendly websites. Skeleton includes all of the standard components for responsive web design, such as the grid, aside from its small size. Skeleton split the entire web page into several grids of 12 columns. Skeleton is a good CSS framework that is best suited for small websites and one-page web apps.
Advantages Of Skeleton CSS Framework
- It is very light, with around 400 lines of code.
- It has a mobile-first approach and has designs that can be used as a starting point, not as a full-fledged framework.
- It styles only a handful of HTML elements and includes Grid support. It should be used in small projects where the utility of an extensive framework is not there.
- Due to its super minimal footprint, it is swift.
Disadvantages Of Skeleton CSS Framework
Skeleton should only be considered for usage in small projects; as for advanced level functionality, there would be an enormous effort from the developer side to use Skeleton as the only CSS library in the project.
Who Is Using The Skeleton CSS Framework?
Companies like Steelkiwi Inc., Spirit Pixels use Skeleton in their tech stack.
7. Materialize CSS
Advantages Of Materialize CSS Framework
- It is responsive out of the box and has a minimal footprint.
- It is easily extensible; it is easier to write new rules than to overwrite the existing ones. It is flat and minimal by design.
- Great ease of use, as due to the brilliant documentation, anyone with basic knowledge of HTML and CSS can get started with this framework in no time.
- It is cross browser compatible and can be used to create reusable components.
- Material is the only design language (on which Materialize is based) that adds motion and depth to elements. In material design, everything should have a certain z-depth that determines how far raised or close to the page the element is.
- Materialize CSS is mobile-friendly and helps to build progressive web applications.
Disadvantages Of Materialize CSS Framework
Who Is Using The Materialize CSS Framework?
Companies using Materialize CSS are proprofs.com, guru99.com, GameRaven, etc.
Tachyons is considered among the best CSS frameworks. It is a lightweight, responsive CSS toolkit (utility first design) that claims to be ‘built for designing’. Going by the name ‘Tachyons’ means ‘a hypothetical particle that travels faster than light. This library will surely make a developer think of it as a good option for lightning-fast execution.
Advantages Of Tachyons CSS Framework
- It uses a mobile-first design approach and makes a developer think for mobile by default.
- It is very lightweight as its minified version weighs under 14KB and is well documented.
- The tachyons design system is straightforward to understand and get started with as it keeps all of its code under one HTML file and through single utility classes.
- It is excellent for prototyping as it can make a site look fantastic with minimal design work.
- Being a framework that follows a utility first CSS approach, there is inherent reusability of the classes/design.
- Tachyons give you a non-opinionated design that lets you control the more flexible frameworks without the tweaking and configuration. All the tweaking you need can be done by just changing the HTML classes themselves. And it follows a very granular approach for defining the designs.
Disadvantages of Tachyons CSS Framework
One drawback that a developer can face is memorising the class names for working with the Utility first design approach.
Who Is Using The Tachyons CSS Framework?
Companies like Everlane, CrewFire, Agema, Company Stack are using Tachyons.
9. Semantic UI
Semantic UI is another one of the good CSS frameworks released in 2013 by Jack Lukic. It contains pre-built semantic components that are super helpful in creating a beautiful and responsive layout using human-friendly HTML syntax.
Advantages Of Semantic UI Framework
- It is a modern front-end development framework powered by LESS and jQuery. It has a sleek, subtle, and flat design look that provides a lightweight user experience.
- Its main objective is to create a language to share UI, and they do this by using the intuitive and semantic language for naming conventions and classes.
- It is easy to start with due to its semantic nature; beginners can quickly grasp the classes and conventions’ names.
- File or build size can be reduced by choosing only the required components from the final project framework.
- It has a high level of customization, and it is very well documented.
- It has incredible prebuilt designs and modern templates, which suffice mostly all the general requirements a developer might have for the frontend design.
- Semantic has integrations with React, Angular, Meteor, Ember, and many other frameworks to help organize your UI layer alongside your application logic.
Disadvantages Of Semantic UI Framework
There are some drawbacks to this framework.
- Many of its features are JS dependent, so the developer needs to have a good familiarity with JS to solve issues.
- If a user tries to use many components from the Semantic UI, the project size might increase, and compatibility issues might creep in.
Who Is The Semantic UI Framework?
Companies like Snapchat, Accenture, RapidAPI, Kmong use Semantic UI.
UIKit is regarded as one of the best CSS frameworks. It is a lightweight, open-source and modular front-end framework for developing fast and powerful web interfaces. UIKit framework is simple to learn and is used to build user interfaces for iOS and Android-based web applications. It includes all of the necessary elements such as labels, buttons, table views, etc. There are several ready-to-use themes available, and you can implement them by modifying the relevant SASS or LESS file.
Advantages Of UIKit Framework
- Complete GUI is a critical factor which makes developer choose UIKit
- It is a comprehensive collection of HTML, CSS, and JS components that are simple to use, extendable, and customizable.
- It has a small collection of responsive components having a conflict-free and consistent naming convention.
- It is developed using LESS, which makes it well structured and easily maintainable.
- It is mostly used in designing frontends for iOS applications.
- It is modular and gives flexibility for reusing and refining components without disturbing the website’s overall aesthetic or front end.
Disadvantages Of UIKit Framework
There are few drawbacks of this framework.
- It has a small development community, and learning resources are not very readily available.
- Sometimes it can be complex to work with due to its nested classes and modular structure.
Who Is Using The UIKit Framework?
Companies like Crunchyroll, Dyn, Acquia, Digital Services use UIKit.
11. Primer CSS
Primer is a CSS framework created by Github, now it is open source and is accessible for the public to use in their projects. It uses colour, typography, and spacing consistently and systematically. Along with its excellent features and functionalities, it is also clear and concise. Therefore, it is regarded as one of the good CSS frameworks among both developers and non-developers.
Advantages Of Primer CSS Framework
- It is utility centric and BEM-component based framework.
- The systemic approach followed by Primer helps ensure that the styles are consistent and interoperable with each other.
- It has customizable typography, in which the font size and line-height options work together to give more cohesive and sensible numbers.
- Availability of meaningful colors and highly composable spacing scale.
- Various packages having components or group of styles are distributed via NPM
- Abstracted components are there, which help in the reusability and flexibility of components.
Disadvantages Of Primer CSS Framework
There are some drawbacks to this framework by Github.
- It has a shallow adoption in the community.
- Due to low adoption, the developer community is not very large too.
Who Is Using The Primer CSS Framework?
Companies using Primer are MyStack, timelog, etc
12. Ant Design
Advantages Of Ant Design Framework
- It is a set of high-quality React components, enterprise-class UI design language.
- It has graceful UI components out of the box, which is based on React Component.
- The main reason for Ant design usage is its polished and enterprise-level look and feel.
- It provides great breadth and depth of components. For example, the low-level components which are generally required in almost every frontend design are already present in the Ant design library.
- It has consistency in updates, and antd.package upgrades rarely cause any breakage in the functionality.
- It has good documentation and typescript support.
Disadvantages Of Ant Design Framework
Ant Design has many more useful components, but the main challenge is its accessibility to the keyboard.
Who Is Using The Ant Design Framework?
It is used by companies like QR Point, Binance, Evooq, and more.
13. Miligram CSS
Milligram also comes under the category of good CSS frameworks. It is a lightweight CSS framework with a vast developer community. Milligram is terrific as you can start from scratch when designing your interfaces, and it has been built to improve efficiency and productivity. However, given the features within, it is very flexible; it comes with a collection of web development assets to satisfy your needs.
Advantages Of Miligram CSS Framework
- Though it has powerful features to increase efficiency, it has a very low weight of 2 KB when compressed.
- Milligram does not have any default styling. When implementing your custom styles, you would not need to reset or modify properties that do not meet your needs.
- Easy to learn as it has comprehensive documentation to get you started.
Disadvantages Of Miligram CSS Framework
Miligram doesn’t come with pre-defined templates.
Who Is Using The Miligram CSS Framework?
Companies like Tam Development, Gooroo, Calligraphr use the Miligram framework in their tech stack.
Above I have tried to give a detailed overview of the best CSS frameworks. Although all the modern CSS frameworks provide strong cross browser compatibility support, a developer always needs to test the front-end’s functioning and run various tests to ensure that there are no cross browser compatibility issues. LambdaTest can be of great use while testing the CSS framework’s implementation. You can test your project across multiple 2000+ browsers and operating systems combinations.
You can also perform responsive testing of your project after CSS implementation to optimize your development process. LT Browser will help you conduct website responsive tests across 50+ pre-built device viewports of mobile, tablets, desktops and laptops.
Please let us know your thoughts on the article, and we would love to discuss any follow-up questions that you might have on the content above. Please feel free to drop in your comments below.
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