Bootstrap vs Materialize

When it comes to developing responsive, mobile-first web projects, CSS frameworks are invaluable tools for web designers and developers. Among the myriad of frameworks available, Bootstrap and Materialize stand out as popular choices. Both frameworks offer a collection of reusable components and tools, but they have distinct philosophies and feature sets. In this article, we’ll delve into an exhaustive comparison of Bootstrap and Materialize, covering every aspect from their design principles to the specifics of their implementation.

Introduction to Bootstrap

Bootstrap is an open-source CSS framework that was initially developed by Twitter. It is one of the most popular and widely used frameworks in the world, known for its comprehensive set of features and components that enable developers to create responsive and mobile-first websites quickly.

Key Features of Bootstrap

  • Responsive Grid System: Bootstrap includes a flexible grid system that adapts your website to mobile, tablet, and desktop screens.
  • Predefined Components: It comes with a range of pre-styled components such as navigation bars, modals, and dropdowns.
  • JavaScript Plugins: Bootstrap offers jQuery-based JavaScript plugins to add functionality to components.
  • Customizability: It allows extensive customization through SASS variables and mixins.
  • Community and Support: A large community and extensive documentation make it easy to find support and resources.

Bootstrap Documentation and Installation

The Bootstrap documentation is a comprehensive resource that provides guidelines on how to get started, use the grid system, components, utilities, and customize the framework.

To install Bootstrap, you can follow the instructions on the installation page.

Popular Third-Party Addons for Bootstrap

  • BootstrapVue: Integrates Bootstrap with Vue.js.
  • React-Bootstrap: Adapts Bootstrap components for React.
  • Bootstrap Icons: An official icon library designed for Bootstrap.

Introduction to Materialize

Materialize is a responsive front-end framework based on Material Design by Google. It provides a more opinionated design philosophy compared to Bootstrap, focusing on providing a consistent look and feel according to Material Design principles.

Key Features of Materialize

  • Material Design Standards: Materialize is built with Material Design principles offering a modern, clean look.
  • Responsive Design: Like Bootstrap, Materialize offers a responsive grid system.
  • Components: It comes with a set of components that are styled according to Material Design.
  • No jQuery Dependency: Materialize does not rely on jQuery for its JavaScript components.
  • Ease of Use: It is designed to be straightforward to implement, with minimal setup required.

Materialize Documentation and Installation

The Materialize documentation provides all the necessary information to start using Materialize, including setup, components, and customization options.

You can install Materialize by following the instructions on their installation page.

Popular Third-Party Addons for Materialize

  • Materialize-Sass: A Sass-powered version of Materialize for those who prefer to use Sass.
  • Angular Materialize: Integrates Materialize with Angular applications.

Design and Aesthetics

Bootstrap and Materialize differ significantly in their design philosophies. Bootstrap’s design is more neutral and generic, which makes it versatile for any type of project. On the other hand, Materialize strictly follows Google’s Material Design guidelines, which means it has a more specific and modern look but might be less flexible for projects that require a unique brand identity.

Comparing the Grid Systems

Both Bootstrap and Materialize use a 12-column grid system, which is a standard among CSS frameworks. However, the implementation and class naming conventions differ.

Bootstrap Grid Example

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="col-md-4">One of three columns</div>
    <div class="col-md-4">One of three columns</div>
    <div class="col-md-4">One of three columns</div>

Materialize Grid Example

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="col s4">One of three columns</div>
    <div class="col s4">One of three columns</div>
    <div class="col s4">One of three columns</div>

In Bootstrap, the grid classes are prefixed with col-md-, col-sm-, etc., to indicate the breakpoint at which the columns take effect. Materialize uses col and s, m, l, xl to denote screen sizes, with s standing for small.

Components and JavaScript

Both frameworks offer a wide range of components such as navigation bars, cards, and modals. However, the styling and JavaScript functionality may vary between the two.

Bootstrap Navbar Example

<nav class="navbar navbar-expand-lg navbar-light bg-light">
  <a class="navbar-brand" href="#">Navbar</a>
  <button class="navbar-toggler" type="button" data-toggle="collapse" data-target="#navbarNav" aria-controls="navbarNav" aria-expanded="false" aria-label="Toggle navigation">
    <span class="navbar-toggler-icon"></span>
  <div class="collapse navbar-collapse" id="navbarNav">
    <ul class="navbar-nav">
      <li class="nav-item active">
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">Home <span class="sr-only">(current)</span></a>
      <li class="nav-item">
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">Features</a>
      <li class="nav-item">
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">Pricing</a>
      <li class="nav-item">
        <a class="nav-link disabled" href="#" tabindex="-1" aria-disabled="true">Disabled</a>

Materialize Navbar Example

  <div class="nav-wrapper">
    <a href="#" class="brand-logo">Logo</a>
    <ul id="nav-mobile" class="right hide-on-med-and-down">
      <li><a href="sass.html">Sass</a></li>
      <li><a href="badges.html">Components</a></li>
      <li><a href="collapsible.html">JavaScript</a></li>

In Bootstrap, JavaScript functionality is tied to components through data attributes like data-toggle. Materialize, on the other hand, typically initializes components using JavaScript directly.

Customization and Theming

Customization is an essential aspect of choosing a CSS framework, as it determines how easily you can tailor the framework to fit your design needs.

Bootstrap Customization

Bootstrap can be customized using SASS variables, mixins, and functions. You can override the default styles by changing the values of these variables before compiling your SASS.

Materialize Customization

Materialize also allows customization through SASS. You can change colors, fonts, and other elements by modifying the SASS variables provided by the framework.

This completes the first half of the article. We have introduced both Bootstrap and Materialize, discussed their key features, design philosophies, grid systems, components, and customization options. In the second half, we will continue to explore more advanced topics, including performance considerations, accessibility, community and ecosystem, real-world usage examples, and a final verdict on which framework might be the best fit for your project.

Performance Considerations

When choosing between Bootstrap and Materialize, it’s important to consider the impact on performance. Both frameworks can affect page load times and overall website performance due to the size of their CSS and JavaScript files.

Bootstrap Performance

Bootstrap is a relatively heavyweight framework, especially if you include all of its JavaScript plugins. However, it offers a customizer that allows you to select only the components you need, which can significantly reduce the file size. Additionally, Bootstrap 5 has dropped the jQuery dependency, which results in a lighter footprint.

Materialize Performance

Materialize is also quite comprehensive, but since it doesn’t rely on jQuery, its JavaScript files are generally smaller compared to Bootstrap’s. However, like Bootstrap, including all components and features can lead to larger file sizes. To optimize performance, only import the components and scripts you need.


Accessibility is a crucial factor in web development, ensuring that websites are usable by people with disabilities. Both frameworks have made strides in this area, but they have different approaches.

Bootstrap Accessibility

Bootstrap places a strong emphasis on accessibility and includes features like ARIA attributes and keyboard support in its components. The framework’s documentation provides guidance on making accessible web content, which is a testament to its commitment to inclusivity.

Materialize Accessibility

Materialize also incorporates some accessibility features, but its adherence to Material Design means that some components may not be as accessible as their Bootstrap counterparts. Developers may need to put in extra effort to ensure Materialize-based websites meet accessibility standards.

Community and Ecosystem

A strong community and ecosystem can be invaluable for getting support, finding resources, and extending the functionality of a CSS framework.

Bootstrap Community

Bootstrap has a large and active community. There are tons of third-party themes, templates, and plugins available, making it easier to find solutions to common problems. The community also contributes to the framework’s development, ensuring it stays up-to-date with web standards and trends.

Materialize Community

Materialize has a smaller community compared to Bootstrap, but it is still active and growing. While there may be fewer third-party resources available, the community provides support through forums and social media.

Real-World Usage Examples

Both Bootstrap and Materialize are used in a wide range of websites, from small personal projects to large enterprise applications. Here are some real-world usage examples for each:

Bootstrap Usage Examples

  • Twitter: Bootstrap originated from Twitter, and its influence is seen across various aspects of the site.
  • Lyft: The popular ride-sharing service uses Bootstrap for its website.
  • Vogue: The online presence of the iconic fashion magazine utilizes Bootstrap for its responsive design.

Materialize Usage Examples

  • Firebase: Google’s Firebase uses Material Design and elements of Materialize in its console.
  • Back Market: The refurbished electronics marketplace uses Materialize for its clean and modern interface.

Final Verdict

Choosing between Bootstrap and Materialize ultimately depends on your project’s needs, design preferences, and familiarity with the frameworks.

  • Choose Bootstrap if:
  • You need a highly customizable framework with a vast array of components.
  • You want strong community support and extensive resources.
  • You prioritize accessibility and need a framework that provides robust guidelines.
  • Choose Materialize if:
  • You prefer the aesthetic of Material Design and want a framework that adheres to those principles.
  • You want a framework that is easy to use with minimal setup.
  • You do not require jQuery and prefer a lighter JavaScript footprint.

Both Bootstrap and Materialize have their strengths and weaknesses, and the decision between them should be made based on the specific requirements of your project. It’s also worth noting that you can combine aspects of both frameworks or even switch between them as your project evolves.

In conclusion, Bootstrap and Materialize are powerful tools for web development. By understanding their differences and evaluating your project’s needs, you can make an informed decision on which framework will serve you best. Whether you prioritize design, performance, community, or ease of use, both frameworks offer a solid foundation for building responsive, modern web applications.

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