It’s easy to use, fast and can make stellar websites. It’s great, really! But, it’s just not right for us or our clients.
Bootstrap is a super popular frontend framework developers use to quickly make beautiful websites. The framework has actually been a revolutionary tool releasing developers from the torment of building responsive websites from scratch.
Lots of developers love it for that.
But, it is a shortcut and not all shortcuts are worth taking. We don’t necessarily want to call ourselves dev purists, but we do believe in a comprehensive understanding of what’s under the hood and we believe in our own framework and skills as developers, which means we have some reservations about Bootstrap’s capacity to deliver the best results for our clients.
Why we choose not to Bootstrap
Our main issue with using Bootstrap is that if you take one aspect of it, you take it all. This weighs down websites with features that just aren’t necessary. For instance, Bootstrap has eight button styles and whether you want all or none of them, you have to live with them.
This leads to what developers call CSS-bloat, which can affect the performance and readability of the website.
CSS-bloat is exacerbated with Bootstrap because to remove an unwanted element from its framework the code needs to be overwritten, which, of course, creates more code and actually defeats the purpose of having a pre-built framework.
We find the Bootstrap framework restrictive as it requires designers and developers to conform to a 12 column grid style and set media breakpoints.
For the average website that’s fine, but it means sacrificing significantly on creativity and flexibility. One of the criticisms often leveled at Bootstrap is that it's rigid framework leads to lots of very similar looking websites. And, with so many developers using it, Bootstrap has basically led to a robotic assembly line churning out factory standard websites.
We don’t like this, it goes too far in working for a mythical generic user. Our designers and developers provide experiences for our client’s users. Not just any user.
We like to make our own rules, unconstrained by the limitations of frameworks that don’t fit with our client’s needs.
And, when it comes down to it, we really think of Bootstrap as more of a toolkit than a framework. When we think of a framework it should tell us the best practice for implementing customisations or extensions, but Bootstrap doesn’t really do that. It just gives us out-of-the-box features we can re-use in our code.
What we do at Butterfly
We’ve been designing and building websites from the ground up for a while. It’s our thing and we love doing it. It means we have full control of the design.
But, we haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Frameworks are incredibly useful time and money savers, so we have developed our own framework specifically suited to our projects.
The success of our framework is borne out of long term collaboration within our development and design teams.
Every two weeks our developers get together for a “Mingle”, where news, insights, trends and innovations from the world of website development are shared. It is also an opportunity to discuss and provide feedback on current projects, as well as review and update our framework.
This not only makes our framework stronger, but it means we are nimble in the way we design and build websites.
The other thing is every client’s site looks different, but we do have a ‘Butterfly’ style, an award-winning style, our design team can take credit for.
So, our developers also catch up with the designers every month. This cross-pollination ensures our framework’s structure, conventions and processes are robust and suitable to our and our clients’ needs.
The most important part of building a website is understanding the user and building something guaranteed to work for them — when something isn’t right for us or our clients, we have the expertise to build something that is.