Should You Use Bootstrap for WordPress Theme Development in 2020?
Is WordPress Theme Development with Bootstrap Still a Valid Option? Read on for the Answer.
Before building a website, you first need to decide on one of the common methods to handle this task:
- You can pick a framework that provides ready-made design and basic features out of the box. This means you don’t have to involve web development professionals to get your site live on the Internet in a matter of hours. Just click here, click there, tweak some settings, and off you go! Very convenient. There’s a serious drawback, however. Your site will have an interface similar to thousands of others, and it will hardly look professional enough to entice your target audience.
As you can see, both methods have their strengths and weaknesses. Is there a better way? A combination of these approaches, perhaps? Yes, there is. These days, many companies choose WordPress as the basis for their websites and customize the interface by leveraging the power of Bootstrap.
In this post, we are going to discuss if WordPress theme development with Bootstrap 4 really gives businesses the value they seek.
Meet Bootstrap: A Powerful Design Framework
For those of you who might not have heard about Bootstrap, let us say that this is a design framework for building responsive user interfaces. It was introduced by Twitter to facilitate the work of the company’s own back-end engineers. Around 9 years ago, Bootstrap’s source code was made public.
Bootstrap currently tops the rating of the most popular design frameworks on the entire Internet with the share of 76%.
Here is an example of aligning an image using a built-in Bootstrap class:
Bootstrap achieves perfect responsiveness by using media queries with breakpoints set in accordance with specific screen sizes:
Besides, the framework is based on the 12-column grid system built on top of flexbox (starting from Bootstrap 4), also with predefined classes. Here is a code snippet that creates three equal columns on small, medium, large, and extra large screens:
The Main Benefits the Framework Brings to Web Developers and Site Owners
Bootstrap has a host of advantages apart from enabling a website to render perfectly well on a screen of any size just off the shelf. Here is a short rundown of these.
It’s a Bug-Free Framework That Works Well Across All Major Browsers
Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Chrome — these are just a few browsers that millions of people use to view pages on the Internet. A worthy web developer has to make sure that a website renders accurately on all those browsers.
With the traditional approach, browser incompatibility is a common issue. Bootstrap is a different matter. Thanks to the huge army of contributors, issues are reported and dealt with almost instantaneously. Thus, websites render immaculately whatever browser a user has opened them in.
It Expedites the Web Development Process Tremendously
‘Time is money’ is a hackneyed phrase, we know it, but it’s relevant again and again. The less time the website building process takes, the slimmer is the bill.
Bootstrap is like a trampoline for web developers. It takes a lot of routine stuff off their shoulders such as working with fonts, media queries, and layout. Thus, their hands are free to build custom features without any distractions.
In addition, the framework is well-documented. Developers get answers to their questions immediately on numerous forums.
It’s Easy to Change to Meet Specific Business Requirements
One of the greatest features of Bootstrap is that this framework is not set in stone. It’s like shopping. You come to a store, choose the things you like, and purchase them. In a similar fashion, the Bootstrap site allows you to create a custom library by picking the elements you want.
Need animations but don’t need popovers? Make your choice. Not going to use progress bars on your site? Leave them out. Then, put together all the items you have selected and download them as a unique Bootstrap library. Super handy!
You can also use the so-called theming to refine the standard Bootstrap library by using and modifying mixins and reassigning variables right in the framework’s source code. This will let you adjust Bootstrap to your exact project specifications.
Note that selecting particular Bootstrap components and taking advantage of theming requires a fair amount of technical knowledge. No worries, though. The PSD2HTML front-end developers are always ready to lend you a helping hand with any of the technically challenging tasks.
It Helps You Avoid Getting Lost in Hundreds of Plugins
A website may have to include a lot of different interactivity features. One of the options is to add jQuery plugins to the mix. However, adding too many of these to your site may cause a great deal of trouble. Version mismatches and browser issues are just a few possible problems.
Bootstrap, by contrast, has a lot of built-in jQuery elements you can painlessly integrate with your site.
Now that you know what Bootstrap is and how it can speed up and facilitate the web development process, let’s get to the main point: “Is Bootstrap suitable for WordPress Theme Development?”
WordPress Theme Development Using Bootstrap: Is It Worth It?
We have lauded the power and flexibility of WordPress in several of our previous posts. It remains the most popular content management system on the market, so choosing it for your site is a wise move.
WordPress offers site owners tons of free and paid ready-made themes that even laymen can easily install. If you are familiar with HTML and CSS, you can modify a theme like that to make it different from the original and thus try to distinguish your company from the rest.
However, these changes are often purely cosmetic and can hardly bring you the desired benefits. That’s why many site owners prefer building a custom WordPress theme. Only a custom theme provides a truly unique interface with all the features that a particular business needs.
That said, creating a one-of-a-kind theme can be a long and laborious process. It requires knowledge and skill. Not only do developers need to build the theme but they must also test it for browser and device compatibility. This is where WordPress theme development with Bootstrap is really invaluable.
It’s true that the design framework was not conceived for crafting WordPress themes. It differs from the CMS in its features, installation process, and other aspects. However, you can apply Bootstrap to create a custom WordPress theme by hooking it to the CMS in several ways.
For example, you can place links in your project files to retrieve Bootstrap’s compiled CSS and JS from CDN (Content Delivery Network).
To develop a WordPress theme with Bootstrap, you also need to create a specific project structure, and go over some other essential steps. However, we are not going to look into this here.
What does matter is that once you have tied Bootstrap and WordPress together, you can use all the great features of the framework including its built-in classes and the grid system with flexbox. The result will be an all-browser-compliant theme that renders to perfection regardless of the screen resolution of a specific device.
You can also take advantage of many WordPress Bootstrap plugins. These can significantly widen the range of functions your site can use. For instance, you can add the Bootstrap carousel feature with the corresponding plugin. If you need to turn the conventional navigation menu to the Twitter-style one, install the WP Bootstrap Menu plugin. The list goes on.
Is WordPress Theme Development with Bootstrap Problem-Free?
Despite so many benefits that the framework offers to WordPress site owners, it’s not devoid of shortcomings. Here are the most notorious ones.
A lot of extraneous code
Bootstrap is a treasure trove of classes used to create all kinds of web page components. This can become a hindrance, though. There’s hardly a project that requires each and every class the framework exposes. Why use all of them if you only need a few?
The framework uses predefined breakpoints in media queries. Changing those to custom values involves a great deal of work on the part of developers. Thus, if you have to meet a unique design requirement, you are in for an unpleasant surprise.
Uniform look of many themes
Easy WordPress theme development with Bootstrap has a flip side. Since the framework is comparatively simple in installation and operation, it enjoys great popularity and is used by many people who want just a basic theme that functions well. They don’t want to dive deep and try to make the theme truly unique. This results in a lot of themes that look like twins.
These drawbacks should not put you off Bootstrap. Experienced and skilled developers such as the PSD2HTML front-end professionals can easily overcome all of the issues.
Just like other technologies, the Bootstrap framework is good for specific business scenarios. Apart from other applications, Bootstrap can also be used for WordPress theme development. It’s quite easy to hook it to the CMS, and its predefined classes enable developers to create custom, responsive WordPress themes very fast: time and money saver.
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WordPress Bootstrap Frequently Asked Questions
Is Bootstrap different from WordPress?
Yes, these are two different tools. WordPress is a content management system. It allows people with little or no web development skills to create, launch, and manage websites.
Bootstrap, on the other hand, is a design framework. Its main purpose is building user interfaces that render well no matter the screen size.
Is WordPress Bootstrap theme development possible?
Yes, it is. While these two technologies are not supposed to work with one another, developers can integrate the Bootstrap framework into WordPress core to build a custom theme. There are several ways to add Bootstrap to WordPress. One is to place a link to the Bootstrap CDN.
Is Bootstrap 4 the latest edition of the framework?
On June 16, 2020 the release of Bootstrap 5 Alpha was announced. It has many exciting enhancements such as the use of CSS custom properties. However, since it’s the Alpha version, it can still be unstable. Therefore, we recommend WordPress theme development with Bootstrap 4 until version 5 becomes fully functional.
What are the main advantages of using Bootstrap for WordPress theme development?
- The framework (version 4) has many jQuery components integrated in its core (in Bootstrap 5, jQuery has been deprecated). This allows you to forget about external plugins.
- Bootstrap considerably speeds up the development process thanks to a host of predefined classes you can add to any HTML element.
- The framework has a flexible grid system built atop flexbox.