Think of frameworks as chassis, and whatever code you put on that chassis is like the rest of the vehicle.
Designing websites, however, is nowhere as mechanized and semi-automated as it is for manufacturing automobiles.
You need help as a web developer, and thankfully, you are blessed with some of the best CSS3 frameworks the web development community miraculously creates and maintains.
CSS3 frameworks are the equivalent of semi-made recipe kits – the ingredients are all there along with instructions; you’d just have to cook up something exotic.
Some of the best CSS3 frameworks (at the time of this writing in 2016) aim to provide a common, accepted, and standardized structure to developers looking to build websites. These ‘free’ best CSS3 frameworks help you save time, obviate the need to rebuild basic web foundations from scratch, and hence save oodles of time.
The benefits of CSS frameworks, however, extend way beyond the obvious.
Straight off the bat, CSS3 frameworks can help you learn CSS3 (even more than what you already know), they provide you with basic code that you can build on. Robust frameworks relieve you from the dreaded cross-browser compatibility concerns.
Many frameworks automatically hand-twist you into good coding habits by forcing you into a grid-based design, documentation, and give you all the necessary groundwork on a plate.
Here are some of the best CSS3 frameworks in 2016, from simple frameworks all the way to complete and robust ones. Pick your poison:
The Bootstrap framework, created by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton in 2011, is the undisputed leader when it comes to CSS3 frameworks for 2016 (and it’d stay that way for a while).
It’s one of the best modular, responsive, and mobile-first CSS3 frameworks there is and the unquestionably popular toolkit serves as the foundation for tens of thousands of websites today.
Armed with fantastic documentation, basic GUI customizers, availability of third-party plugins, and with a framework size of just 145 KB – it’s mean, lean, and perfect for your next web design project.
Responsive Grid System By Graham Miller
As a developer, you’d do well with choices. Instead of being boxed into this framework or the other, you’d benefit from making your creativity flow while still meeting the basics of today’s web development standards. The Responsive Grid System by Graham Miller of Edward Robertson Web Design.
Graham claims that it isn’t a framework and it’s not a boilerplate either.
We know that it’s popular, smart, flexible, scales to any width (with any number of columns) and it’s not rocket science.
Plus, it puts “content first” which is a good way to approach web design and development projects.
Foundation 3 by ZURB
Quick quiz: What’s common between Mozilla, eBay, Yahoo, and National Geographic?
It’s called Foundation – another behemoth of a CSS3 framework by ZURB, as far as popularity goes.
It’s one of the more advanced front-end frameworks in the world, and it uses Sass preprocesses, icon bars, clearing light boxes, keystrokes, pricing tables, and even flex videos as usable components within the framework.
Also, you’ll also have access to good documentation and additional excellent resources to tackle projects.
As time passes by, web development projects get just as demanding.
Semantic UI was built to tackle the spate of increasing demand for truly full-featured CSS3 frameworks. If there is one framework that can beat the rest on this list, it’s Sematic UI by Jack Lukic.
Along with good documentation, you also get access to LearnSematic – a website that offers all the resources you need to get started, to customize, and to create new themes.
1140 CSS Grid
As Vin Thomas of CSS-Tricks writes, Grids help you “achieve better readability, flow and balance visual weight. They also offer you flexibility, expandability, and give you overall page cohesiveness.”.
The 1140 CSS grid system is perfect for you if you are trying to push websites to a 1280 size monitor (while still trying to get websites to fit perfectly into the rest of those numerous screen resolutions by being fluid and adaptive).
The 1140 CSS Grid comes with built in media queries, stacked columns, and with a great flow of information through the pre-built code.
Be it an iMac or an iPhone 7 or even an Apple watch, websites just have to show up fast, and show up well. Being one of the best CSS3 frameworks, Skeleton provides for a simple, responsive, and beautiful boilerplate CSS3 framework that’s designed to be light (just about 200 lines), mobile first, quick to start with, and more.
It’s a perfect for smaller projects that don’t need the utility of larger CSS3 frameworks. Skeleton is just a few HTML lines and a grid.
Dare to go ultra simple?
Not to be mistaken for the three-wheeled nightmares found on the streets of Bangkok, Tuktuk, by Javi of Tapquo, doesn’t even try to complete with Bootstrap or Foundation.
It’s a CSS3 framework for the simplistic and the purists. Divided horizontally into a series of 12 columns and rows, it’s as simple as simplicity itself is.
If you are all about simple site structures for responsive, fast, and extensible websites, TukTuk is what you should be riding.
Warning: Kube is designed for true professionals who know their way in and out of HTML/CSS with a flair of mastery.
Kube is not a set of elements or templates. Also, it’s not for rank beginners. Kube is a tool that helps professionals weave out projects in the shortest possible time.
However, it does not impose any standards. It does not box you into a code cult. Kube is minimalistic, flexible, and really small. Think of it as just that polished little tool for a thorough professional.
If you are worried about the best CSS3 frameworks still not able to match your rigorous testing standards of browser compatibility, consider using YAML 4 – a bulletproof and flexible grid system built for dreamlike cross-browser compatibility.
The framework offers a slim core kit of — wait for it — 5.9 KB and is built on Sass. Focused on stringent web standards and accessibility, it features matched building blocks, rapid prototyping, name-spacing, and optimized typography.
Think of Columnal as a curated CSS3 framework – an intelligent mix of the best features of other frameworks, with some custom code incorporated for good measure.
Columnal features an elastic grid system (borrowed from cssgrid.net) and is inspired by another grid system called 960.gs. If you are looking for a way to seamlessly transition design from desktop to mobile, it’s worth considering.
If you ran out of the best, you could do with just HTML5 and CSS3 and also want to incorporate the best from Django, Rails, and WordPress, take a good look at Susy. The modern framework features responsive grids (thanks to Sass) and gives you the option to develop anything from static websites to real sales machines using any of the contemporary technologies such as Django and Rails.
Susy is grid-on-demand. It’s flexible and fits into almost any kind of a workflow that modern developers want to experiment. The code is Sass poetry in motion.
Golden Grid System By Joni Korpi
Joni Korpi first developed the Less Framework using fixed-grid layouts. Eventually, he moved out to develop more modern frameworks such as Frameless and the Golden Grid System.
The Golden Grid System uses a fully fluid-width one without specifying the maximum width. Featuring folding columns, elastic gutters, zoomable baseline grids, and a proprietary golden gridlet, it is one of the more popular CSS3 frameworks you can get your hands on in 2016 and beyond.
Today, the importance of design transcends beyond the use of bare essential HTML and CSS3. The need of the hour is mobile, responsiveness, and adherence to an ever-changing set of web standards. Grid-based design has to work on desktop monitors, all the way to a tablet, down to mobile and wearable devices.
That’s where Gridiculo.us comes in – starting at 1200px and down to 320px. Space out your columns, max out at 960px, or 640px, or 320px. The popular CSS3 framework is also available for WordPress designers to base their theme designs on.
Toast is particularly known for being a no-nonsense CSS grid. It comes with twelve, six, and nine column setup that lets you get creative with various permutations and have as many combinations as you want.
Toast also gives you nested grids, custom namespaces, and many other features such as pulls and pushes, responsive layouts, and more.
If you are looking for simplicity, there could be some amount of bloat in any of the best CSS3 frameworks. Ingrid (By Robert Piira) is a simple, light-weight, and fluid CSS3 framework that boasts of reduced classes on every individual unit of CSS.
Ingrid is also extensible, easy to implement, and allows you a certain amount of margin to get creative.
Your design requirements depend on projects, your personal preferences, and the results you wish to see for your projects for those of your clients.
Consider important factors such as speed of implementation, ease of understanding, your complete set of options, technology platforms you wish to use or implement, integrations, and support.
No one said choosing one of the best CSS3 frameworks is easy; but you know you can bookmark this list.
What’s your favorite CSS3 framework?