Is Twitter Bootstrap right for me? [flowchart]

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*Note: Brian Rinaldi from Adobe loved this post so much that he has republished it on his Adobe affiliate website Flippinawesome. Thanks for the support Brian!

Well, we’ve talked about the positives and the negatives of using Twitter Bootstrap, but where does that leave us?

At the end of the day, it’s up to the developer to decide which tool is right for the project at hand but lucky for you, we’ve whipped up this simple flowchart to help you decide which front-end framework to use for your next web project.

There are some extra notes below.

This is an illustrated flow-chart which tracks the decision-making process behind choosing the right front-end framework for the job.

Let’s discuss some situations where using Bootstrap might be inappropriate:

1. Developing for mobile devices in New Zealand

…or anywhere else with slow, expensive mobile broadband. Make sure you trim Bootstrap down as much as possible. All of Bootstrap’s cool responsive features come at a cost; to loading time and to the device’s processing power.

2. You are keen to stick to web best practices

If you’re an HTML purist and you don’t want to muddy the DOM with a myriad of magical classes, Bootstrap may not be for you. It’s important to be concerned about this, as it could potentially make your project inflexible, harder to maintain and put limitations on scalability.

3. The design is radical, innovative and downright whacky

You’ve just been given a rather unconventional design that looks incredible but isn’t going to translate well into a Bootstrap template. It may be a matter of using just the bare basics of Bootstrap in this case. If you want to be developing with Bootstrap, it may be worth sitting down with your graphic designers and trying to persuade them to design with Bootstrap in mind.

Otherwise, Bootstrap is excellent

Try to think of it as a blank-slate and a spring-board that will give you a big head-start in your next exciting web project. You can use as much or as little of it as you want.

  • Keep in mind that Bootstrap is fully customisable, so if it’s too big and clunky straight out of the box, just chisel away the bits you don’t need until you come up with something that works.
  • If you feel like Bootstrap is just too much overhead or it all just seems overwhelming, just grab the bits out of it which are handy for the current project. For many of the designs I’ve been given to bring to life, I’ve combined HTML5 boilerplate, Bootstrap classes and bits of my own code.
  • Keep an eye on the smaller front-end frameworks available, G5 is all about kicking it old-school, sticking to the standards, cross-browser compatibility, a bit of responsiveness and lighter on the UI. Ink focusses on UI, typography and making everything look slick and polished. Terrific goes for a more modular approach to front-end development, which may suit the programmer-types a bit better.
  • The biggest contender I have found for Bootstrap so far is Foundation by Zurb. It has a lot of the same features, but is a little more stripped back, encourages more semantic mark-up and has SASS support. The only major drawback is the lack of support for IE7-8. If you’re not concerned by this, Foundation may be a better place to start, but that’s another story for another day.

So, what are your thoughts?

We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog series on Twitter Bootstrap. We’d love to hear your thoughts on your experience with Twitter Bootstrap – please feel free to leave us a message down below.

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  1. Travis

    Nice post on everything that’s wrong with Bootstrap, but no good alternative options. Leaving empty-handed.

  2. James Matthews

    Great post- love the flow chart. I definitely recommend Bootstrap. From what I can see so far, it’s great, and it’s so simple to use and efficient. The more I learn about it, the more I love it.

  3. Martin

    Nice review/comparison/flowchart Sam! One thing isn’t obvious for me, in your comparisons, are you using bootstrap 2 or the new version 3? thanks

    1. Zheng

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for dropping by. This was written before Bootstrap 3 came out, so it is about Bootstrap 2, but hopefully we will do an updated version in the future now that Bootstrap 3 has arrived 🙂 We will keep you posted.


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