Finding the Right Front-end TemplateWeb Design & Development
Choosing a front-end template jumpstarts any website development project. This template contains a set of predefined styles and components that can make your development process easier. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel! There are two common options for pre-built front-end templates that you may recognize, Boilerplate and Bootstrap, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the right one for your project:
Boilerplate takes the minimalist approach. The philosophy is, “Don’t include anything that is not absolutely necessary.” Its key concern is to “normalize” the script. Why is this important? If you have five browsers and compare their default stylings, there will be various differences. In most cases, these will only be slight visual changes, but other times these differences may unexpectedly break your site. The normalization script resets the formatting to a single set of predefined elements. This helps create visual consistency between browsers, takes the headaches out of development, and avoids surprises later from users reporting the site as broken on their devices. Thus, a “normalization” script is essential for a good front-end template. In addition to the normalization, Boilerplate also provides a basic structure to help you get started on your project. However, this is still minimal, so it’s a smaller foundation for your project.
In contrast, Bootstrap tries to include everything, but results in bloated code. This makes it difficult to tailor your code to your designs because you need to weed through the extra stuff to make changes during development. The positive aspect of Bootstrap is that it makes building sites easier for novice developers who may not be able to add all the needed code without knowing what it should look like. It doesn’t take a whole lot of work to identify the component needed, then copy and paste your plugin. However, if you have a design you are following, which every good website should, these changes may be difficult.
Customizing the template is especially important for Bootstrap. It has a good component library, but the styles will look the same as everyone else who chooses that component. If you want to stand out, you should start with a good design and you shouldn’t rely on a library that makes your site look the same as everyone else’s. There is a better way to approach this.
Paperplate - Our Custom Alternative
At Papercut, we chose to custom develop a template that combines the best of both worlds and better serves our clients. Paperplate, as we call it, is our very own super cool front-end template. It provides a solid, light-weight foundation and is easily expandable and flexible. We’ve perfected it over a number of years and have been able to tailor it to the way we build websites. It contains several important features:
- Normalization Script - A normalization script ensures visual consistency between browsers and devices.
- Responsive Layout System - This is the framing for the website and provides a way to quickly build the site’s overall structure. It is also responsive, so it will automatically adjust to the user’s device.
- Sass - Sass is a preprocessor for CSS. It makes cleaner code that is easier to generate and maintain.
- Extendible Functionality - Paperplate uses prototyping methods to quickly extend needed functionality.
- Plugins - We’ve integrated a growing library of commonly used plugins to pull from.
- Flexibility - Our template grows as we come across new technologies or better ways of building sites.
Making Your Choice
Of course, a customized solution is ideal, but if you don’t have a development team to create your front-end template, you should consider the pros and cons of each pre-built option. While they may not be as customized as you would like, Boilerplate and Bootstrap do provide the essentials to get your site up and running.
Have you used Boilerplate or Bootstrap in the past? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!