Responsive web design is an old story now and doesn’t need any further introduction, details or emphasis. Every professional web designer by default develops a website or a web application keeping in mind devices of all sizes ranging from small screen mobile phones, tablets to laptops, to desktops and large screen TVS.
As HTML and CSS reached new heights with their popular incarnation in the form of HTML5 and CSS3, so did all the browsers including Chrome, Opera, Mozilla and Internet Explorer. HTML5 UI frameworks also evolved over the past few years and now offer features and components to support modern and responsive web design.
Why use HTML5 Framework?
HTML5 frameworks can be broadly classified into three main categories –
- Simple Frameworks – Provide Grids and simple components for use in your web project
- Full Frameworks – Provide the base on which you can build your web project
- Mobile Frameworks – Provide base for Hybrid mobile app development
In this article, we will focus on the responsive web design frameworks that include simple frameworks like Skeleton, CreateJS, MaterializeCSS, HTML Kickstart, and HTML5 Boilerplate as well as full blown frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, Montage Studio and jQWidgets etc. and many more.
If you are interested in building hybrid mobile apps using HTML5 frameworks then follow the article link below. This article covers some of the most popular hybrid app development frameworks like Ionic, Sencha Touch, kendo UI, Intel XDK, Onsen UI and many more.
Using the frameworks, one can approach design top down or bottoms up. Bottoms up approach give you the opportunity to include many smaller grid systems, libraries and individual components to assemble your web project together.
Top down approach typically starts off with a full blown framework like Bootstrap or Foundation, anything missing can be included using any third party library or another simple framework.
Let us look at the best html5 responsive web design frameworks -
Bootstrap – Most Popular HTML5 Responsive Design Framework
Bootstrap the baby of Twitter engineers is the big daddy of responsive web design frameworks. It is used for creating responsive mobile first websites and web applications of complexity levels to run on devices of all sizes.
Bootstrap was originally created by the designer and developer at Twitter and was used as Twitter Blueprint prior to being made freely available as open source framework. Bootstrap is developed and maintained at Github and its amazing community keeps it updated with the latest and greatest in web design by releasing continuous upgrades.
Bootstrap supports Google’s material design, Sass & Less CSS preprocessors, many custom HTML and CSS components, jQuery plugins and much more.
Here are some of the reasons that make bootstrap so successful –
- Easy to get started with, comes with tons of examples, tutorials and great documentation.
- Flexible grid system for creating fixed width as well as responsive grids
- Pre styled tables, Dropdowns, Button Groups, Alerts, Progress bars, navigation bars forms, Grids, base styling, CSS components, typography, icons, images and much more
- Tons of ready to use templates
- Mobile first, accessibility and browser compatibility
The much anticipated Bootstrap 4 is expected to bring in more features for rapid mobile first web apps development.
You get three options to use Bootstrap – 1. Use Max CDN to include compiled Bootstrap CSS and JS files in your project. 2. Download the source code 3. Use a package manager like bower, Composer, Meteor or NPM.
Bootstrap official website - getBootstrap.
HTML5 Boilerplate - Design Blueprint
Let us talk about something simple which is very powerful and popular among community of designers and developers – HTML5 Boilerplate.
HTML5 Boilerplate is one of the best options for giving a head start to your web development project; it is more like a blueprint to your web project. Developers can pick up ready to use template and make modifications rather than going grounds up and building everything from scratch.
HTML5 Boilerplate comes packed with very lean mobile friendly HTML5 templates, touch-device icon placeholder, optimized Google analytics snippets, includes normalize.css, media queries, print styles etc., minified jQuery, Modernizr library for feature detection, apache settings for lightning fast performance and much more.
HTML5 Boilerplate is the creation of Paul Irish and Divya Manian. It has gone through multiple iterations of enhancements and releases since 2010 to become the framework it is today.
It is one of the most popular open source projects available on GitHub with more than 36K stars and has been used by companies like Google, NASA, Microsoft, Creative commons, Australia post and many more.
HTML5 Boilerplate official website –HTML5 Boilerplate Framework
Bootstrap vs HTML5 Boilerplate
In short, Bootstrap is a full blown responsive design framework and comes packed with all the building blocks to create responsive websites of all sizes and complexity. Boilerplate on the other hand acts as a blueprint to your web project and gives a solid starting point on which you build your project.
Foundation – Responsive Web Design Framework (Gold Standard)
With more than 25K GitHub stars and customer base like eBay, Adobe, HP, Cisco, Disney, Samsung, Amazon etc. Foundation is the undisputed king in the world of responsive web design frameworks.
Foundation is an absolute enterprise grade responsive web design framework from the house of Zurb, a company with over 15 years of experience in web design and development.
Foundation gives very close competition to its arch rival Bootstrap in terms of popularity and ease of use. The latest version of the foundation – Foundation 6 brings in lot more features that make creation of responsive, semantic, mobile first and professional websites an absolute breeze.
Foundation is also being used seamlessly in the popular content management systems like WordPress and Drupal etc. and in .Net framework as well.
Read more about Foundation Framework here at – Foundation
Semantic UI is also a widely used responsive design framework but it is a different animal when compared to Bootstrap or Foundation. Semantic classes and components use natural language like nouns, words, modifier relationships that appear English like etc. for the syntax.
Something like the below –
<div class="ui three buttons"> <button class="ui active button">One</button> <button class="ui button">Two</button> <button class="ui button">Three</button> </div>
A full project is much more than just frontend, to achieve that, Semantic integrates with Angular, React, Ember Meteor and many other frameworks.
Read more about Semantic here at - Semantic UI
Skeleton – Lightweight Base HTML5 Framework
Skeleton is one of those simple frameworks that give all the powers to add a solid base to any web project. Skeleton is not a full framework like Bootstrap, Foundation or MontageJS but provides only a handful of components including a very flexible HTML grid.
Skeleton is a lightweight framework with only around 400 lines of code and one can get started right away with skeleton without installing or compiling anything.
Few things you get with Skeleton includes responsive grid, Typography, buttons, forms, lists, tables, media queries and few more utilities.
Read more about Skeleton here at - http://getskeleton.com/
MontageJS with Montage Studio
MontageJS is another open source HTML5 framework available under BSD license and can be downloaded freely from GitHub repository. MontageJS uses modern web technologies, complies with web standards and ensures performance and easy maintenance.
MontageJS works on a component bases architecture and montage applications are supposed to be an assembly of individual components. One can easily divide a complex project into smaller components which can further be reused among projects.
Ready to use montage templates are HTM5 documents created by assembling various components.
MontageJS is supported by Montage Studio that allows drag and drop authoring/creation of responsive web applications using MontageJS. Montage studio is a dedicated editor for MontageJS (currently in beta) and that is what makes MontageJS an attractive option.
Read more about MontageJS/Montage Studio here at - MontageJS
CreateJS is a different ball game altogether and comes packed with collection of modular libraries and tools that can be used to create HTML5 based rich interactive content.
Some of the popular libraries included in the package are –
- EASELJS – Control and manage HTML5 canvas element
- SOUNDJS – Let the web hear what they want
- PRELOADJS – Control how you load various assents
Every responsive web design framework comes with some specialty and CreateJS happens to have made a solid place in the world of HTML5 based ads. CreateJS and Adobe animate make a killer combo and are used heavily by designers for creating interactive and attractive advertisements.
CreateJS has a solid backing from Microsoft, Mozilla, Adobe and gskinner.com and sounds very promising.
jQWidgets is another powerful package that makes creation of responsive websites and apps a piece of cake. jQWidgets is a commercial product and can be used for developing project of all sizes and complexity
Being developed by a “for profit” company, you get everything of the highest professional grade and an excellent development support and documentation.
Key features of JQWidgets include –
- Touch enabled jQuery Widgets
- Ready to use web and mobile themes
- Input validations
- Adapters for backend data access
- Internationalization and WAI-ARIA compatible
- Angular 2 integration for creating modern UIs
- Ready to use React.JS components
- Ready to use UI Tag Helpers for ASP.NET MVC
jQWidgets is highly optimized, comes with a small footprint, supports multiple devices ranging from small screen phones to big screen TVs. It also offers built in browser detection for seamless user experience.
The popularity and power of jQWidgets can be gauged from the fact that top companies like Boeing, Nvidia, Ericsoon, American Express, Qualcomm, Xerox and many others use this framework.
Read more about jQWidgets here at - http://www.jqwidgets.com/
HTML Kick Start
HTML kick start is another lean responsive design framework in the wild that offers HTML5, CSS and JS components for rapid website development. Some of the components are like Slideshows, code/pre, tabs, Breadcrumbs, Menus, Tables, Typography, Glyphs, Buttons and much more.
The framework is creation of Joshua Gatcke and looks promising. However, it is still a novice when compared to the monsters like Bootstrap, Skeleton, Foundation and Montage etc.
Read more about HTML5 Kickstart here at - HTML5 Kick Start
Current State of HTML5 and HTML5 Frameworks
HTML5 undisputedly is ruling the world of web and apps design in modern times and developers across the globe have are making feature rich and complex designs with HTML5.
Some power features of HTML5 include inclusion of <audio> and <video> elements that made it possible to include multimedia with ease and manipulate its workings. Just to emphasize on the power of these new elements, look at some of the biggest websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter that have started to server video content using HTML5 instead of using Flash or other media players.
We have discussed about most of the mainstream frameworks that utilize HTML5 for responsive web design, there is another breed of frameworks that focuses specifically on Google’s material design guidelines and provide HTML, JS and CSS components for creating mobile first websites with material design look and feel.
Some of the most popular frameworks in that category include, MaterialUI, MaterializeCSS, getMDL.io – Material design lite, MUICSS and LumX etc.
If you are interested in looking at details of these frameworks, check out our article on Material Design Frameworks below –
Web design is an art and science which thrives on the creativity of the designers as well as depend on the latest advancements in technology and tools. A creative designer without the set of right tools, libraries and frameworks may not succeed well or may not produce cost effective products.
Framework plays an important role in the overall web design workflow and should be selected with care by detailed analysis.
Various HTML5 frameworks discussed in this article ensure to utilize the latest and greatest in web design and make responsive web design a piece of cake.
What is your responsive web design framework, do share with our readers via comments!