Foundation vs Skeleton

When it comes to CSS frameworks, developers are often faced with the decision of which one to use for their projects. Two popular choices are Foundation and Skeleton. Both have their unique strengths and serve different purposes. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the features, use cases, and differences between Foundation and Skeleton to help you make an informed decision.

Foundation: The Professional Front-End Framework

Foundation is a full-featured, responsive front-end framework developed by ZURB. It’s designed to help developers quickly create complex, responsive layouts. Foundation is widely used for building professional websites and web applications.

Key Features of Foundation

  • Responsive Design: Foundation is mobile-first and allows for the creation of responsive designs that work on all devices.
  • Modular Components: It comes with a range of pre-styled components like navigation, buttons, forms, and more.
  • Customizable: Foundation can be customized using SCSS variables to match your design requirements.
  • Accessibility: It focuses on creating accessible websites with features like ARIA roles and attributes.
  • JavaScript Plugins: Foundation offers a range of JavaScript plugins to enhance the functionality of websites.

Documentation and Resources

Popular Third-Party Addons or Libraries

  • Motion UI: A standalone library for creating CSS transitions and animations.
  • Foundation Building Blocks: A set of over 100 components and layouts that can be dropped into any Foundation project.


Foundation can be installed via npm, yarn, or a direct download from their website. Here’s an example of how to install Foundation using npm:

npm install foundation-sites

Code Sample

Here’s a basic example of a responsive navigation bar using Foundation:

<ul class="dropdown menu" data-dropdown-menu>
  <li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
    <a href="#">About</a>
    <ul class="menu">
      <li><a href="#">Our Team</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Our Services</a></li>
  <li><a href="#">Contact</a></li>

<link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/foundation.css">
<script src="path/to/foundation.js"></script>

Skeleton: A Dead Simple, Responsive Boilerplate

Skeleton is a lightweight CSS framework that provides a simple grid and basic styling for typography, buttons, forms, and lists. It’s best suited for simple projects that don’t require the extensive features of larger frameworks like Foundation.

Key Features of Skeleton

  • Lightweight: Skeleton is minimal and only includes the bare essentials for a responsive layout.
  • Responsive Grid: It comes with a simple 12-column grid that adapts to screen size.
  • No JavaScript: Skeleton is purely CSS, meaning there’s no JavaScript to worry about.
  • Rapid Development: It’s perfect for quick projects and prototypes where you don’t need a lot of complexity.

Documentation and Resources


Skeleton doesn’t require installation; you simply download the CSS file and include it in your HTML.

Code Sample

Here’s a basic example of a responsive grid layout using Skeleton:

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="one-half column">
      <h4>Half Width</h4>
      <p>This column takes up half of the container.</p>
    <div class="one-half column">
      <h4>Half Width</h4>
      <p>This column takes up the remaining half.</p>

<link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/normalize.css">
<link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/skeleton.css">

Skeleton’s simplicity means that you can get a website up and running quickly without the overhead of more complex frameworks. However, it lacks the extensive components and JavaScript plugins that come with Foundation.

When to Use Foundation

Foundation is best suited for large-scale projects where you need a robust set of tools and components to build complex layouts. It’s ideal for teams and projects that require a high level of customization and functionality.

When to Use Skeleton

Skeleton is the go-to choice for small projects, quick prototypes, or when you need a lightweight framework that won’t add unnecessary bulk to your website. It’s perfect for simple websites that don’t need complex UI components.


Both Foundation and Skeleton have their place in the world of web development. Foundation is a heavyweight contender, packed with features for professional-grade projects, while Skeleton is the lightweight champion for simple, fast-loading websites. Your choice between the two should be guided by the scale and complexity of your project.

In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into the comparison, exploring how each framework handles customization, the learning curve for new developers, community support, and real-world usage examples. Stay tuned for an even more detailed analysis of Foundation vs Skeleton.

Customization: Tailoring Foundation and Skeleton to Your Needs

One of the most critical aspects of choosing a CSS framework is its ability to adapt to the specific needs of your project. Let’s dive into how Foundation and Skeleton handle customization.

Foundation Customization

Foundation is built with Sass, which allows for extensive customization through variables, mixins, and functions. Developers can easily change the color schemes, grid settings, button styles, and more by adjusting the Sass variables before compilation.

For example, to customize the primary color in Foundation, you can set the $primary-color variable in your Sass file:

$primary-color: #ff6f69; // Custom primary color
@import 'foundation';

This level of customization means that with Foundation, you can fine-tune almost every aspect of your design without writing extensive custom CSS.

Skeleton Customization

Skeleton, on the other hand, is much more limited in terms of built-in customization options. Since it’s a plain CSS file, you would need to override the default styles to customize the design. This can be done by writing additional CSS rules after you’ve included the Skeleton stylesheet.

For instance, to change the primary color in Skeleton, you would add a new CSS rule:

/* Custom primary color */
a {
  color: #ff6f69;

While Skeleton’s simplicity makes it easy to understand and use, it also means that you might end up writing more custom CSS to achieve the desired look and feel compared to Foundation.

Learning Curve for New Developers

The learning curve for a new developer is an important consideration when adopting a new framework. Both Foundation and Skeleton have their own learning curves, which are influenced by their complexity and documentation.

Foundation Learning Curve

Foundation offers a comprehensive set of components and utilities, which can be overwhelming for beginners. However, its extensive documentation, tutorials, and building blocks make it easier for new developers to get started. The use of advanced Sass features may require some additional learning for those unfamiliar with pre-processors.

Skeleton Learning Curve

Skeleton is much simpler and more straightforward, making it an excellent choice for beginners. With fewer components and a clear focus on the grid system, there’s not much to learn before you can start building. The lack of JavaScript also means that developers can focus solely on HTML and CSS.

Community Support and Ecosystem

A strong community and ecosystem can be invaluable for getting help, finding resources, and extending the capabilities of a framework.

Foundation Community Support

Foundation has a large and active community. It has been around for a longer time, which has allowed for the development of a robust ecosystem. There are numerous third-party addons, UI kits, and integrations available. The Foundation Forum and GitHub repository are active places for getting support and contributing to the project.

Skeleton Community Support

Skeleton’s community is smaller, primarily because the framework itself is more niche and minimalistic. While there may not be as many third-party addons specifically for Skeleton, its simplicity means that it can be easily integrated with other tools and libraries. Support can be found through various online forums and the GitHub repository.

Real-World Usage Examples

Seeing how real-world projects utilize Foundation and Skeleton can provide insight into which framework might be the best fit for your needs.

Foundation in the Wild

Foundation has been used by a wide range of websites, from small businesses to large enterprises. Its flexibility and feature set make it suitable for complex projects. Companies like Disney, HP, and Adobe have used Foundation for their websites, showcasing its capability to handle demanding requirements.

Skeleton in the Wild

Skeleton is often used by developers for personal projects, portfolios, and small business websites where speed and simplicity are paramount. It’s a favorite for projects that need to be developed and deployed rapidly.


In comparing Foundation and Skeleton, we’ve seen that Foundation is a feature-rich framework suited for large-scale, complex projects, while Skeleton is a minimalist framework perfect for simple, quick sites. The choice between the two will depend on the specific needs of your project, your comfort with CSS and Sass, and the level of customization you require.

Foundation offers a comprehensive suite of tools for developers who need to build detailed, interactive, and accessible websites. Its extensive documentation and active community make it a reliable choice for professional development.

Skeleton, with its lightweight approach, is ideal for developers who value speed and simplicity over a wide range of features. It’s perfect for those who want to avoid the overhead of larger frameworks and focus on the essentials.

No matter which framework you choose, both Foundation and Skeleton provide solid foundations for building responsive, modern websites. Consider the scope of your project, your design goals, and your personal or team proficiency with CSS and responsive design principles when making your decision.

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