Pure.css vs Skeleton

When it comes to developing responsive, mobile-first web projects, choosing the right CSS framework can significantly streamline the process. Among the myriad of options available today, Pure.css and Skeleton are two lightweight frameworks that have gained popularity for their simplicity and ease of use. In this article, we will delve into a detailed comparison of Pure.css and Skeleton, exploring their features, strengths, and limitations to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

Pure.css: An Overview

Pure.css, also known simply as Pure, is a minimalistic CSS framework created by Yahoo. It is designed to be a starting point for web projects, providing a set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in any web project.

Key Features of Pure.css

  • Modular Structure: Pure is broken down into small, responsive modules. You can include the entire framework or individual modules like grids, forms, buttons, tables, and more, depending on your needs.
  • Minimal Style: Pure’s styles are unopinionated and minimal, making it easy to customize and integrate into your project without having to override a lot of pre-existing styles.
  • Mobile-First: The framework is designed with a mobile-first approach, ensuring that your web applications are responsive and accessible on all devices.
  • Lightweight: Pure is incredibly lightweight, with the entire set of modules clocking in at just 3.8KB minified and gzipped.

Documentation and Installation

The documentation for Pure.css is comprehensive and easy to follow. You can find it on the Pure.css documentation page. To get started with Pure, you can either download the framework from the Pure.css installation page or include it directly from a CDN.

Popular Add-ons and Libraries for Pure.css

While Pure.css is designed to be minimal and doesn’t have a vast ecosystem of add-ons, the community has developed some tools and extensions for the framework. These include:

  • Pure.css Layouts: Pre-built layouts provided by Pure.css, which can be a great starting point for your designs.
  • Skinny.js: A small collection of jQuery plugins designed to work seamlessly with Pure.

Code Sample: Using Pure.css Grids

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://purecss.io/css/pure-min.css">

<div class="pure-g">
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-3">
        <p>This is a third on medium screens and 100% on small screens.</p>
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-3">
        <p>This is also a third on medium screens and 100% on small screens.</p>
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-3">
        <p>This is the last third on medium screens and 100% on small screens.</p>

Skeleton: An Overview

Skeleton is another lightweight and simple CSS framework that is designed to be a dead simple starting point for any web project. It provides a basic grid and a handful of other styles that you can build upon.

Key Features of Skeleton

  • Barebones Structure: Skeleton is not a UI framework but rather a small collection of CSS files that can help you rapidly develop sites that look beautiful at any size.
  • Responsive Grid: Skeleton includes a fluid-grid system that scales with the browser/device at max-widths of 550px, 750px, 960px, and 1200px.
  • Minimalist Approach: The framework comes with basic styling for common HTML elements like buttons, lists, tables, forms, and more, which are easy to customize.
  • Lightweight and Fast: Skeleton is very lightweight, with the entire framework being only around 400 lines of code.

Documentation and Installation

Skeleton’s documentation is straightforward and can be found on the Skeleton documentation page. Installation is as simple as downloading the skeleton.css file from the Skeleton GitHub repository or linking to it directly from a CDN.

Popular Add-ons and Libraries for Skeleton

Skeleton’s simplicity means there is not a large ecosystem of add-ons or libraries specifically for it. However, due to its basic nature, it’s easy to integrate with other tools and frameworks.

Code Sample: Using Skeleton Grid

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/skeleton/2.0.4/skeleton.min.css">

<div class="container">
    <div class="row">
        <div class="one-third column">
            <p>This is one third of the container's width.</p>
        <div class="one-third column">
            <p>This is also one third of the container's width.</p>
        <div class="one-third column">
            <p>This is the last third of the container's width.</p>

In the first half of this article, we have introduced both Pure.css and Skeleton, highlighting their features, documentation, popular add-ons, and provided code samples for their grid systems. In the next section, we will continue to explore more nuanced differences, compare customization options, community support, and real-world applications to give you a deeper understanding of which framework might be the best fit for your project.

Customization and Flexibility

When choosing between Pure.css and Skeleton, it’s important to consider how much customization you’ll need for your project. Both frameworks offer a clean slate for styling, but they differ in their approach to customization.

Customizing Pure.css

Pure.css is modular, which means you can pick and choose which parts of the framework you want to use. This can be particularly useful if you’re looking to keep your website lightweight by only including the necessary styles. Customization can be done by overriding the default styles with your own CSS, and because Pure.css is minimalistic, there is less risk of running into specificity issues.

.pure-button {
    background-color: #1f8dd6;
    color: white;
    border-radius: 4px;
    /* Add your custom styles here */

Customizing Skeleton

Skeleton is even more barebones than Pure.css, which in many ways makes it easier to customize. You are encouraged to add your own styles on top of Skeleton’s base, and there is very little to override. However, this also means that if you need more complex components, you’ll have to build them from scratch.

.button-primary {
    background-color: #33C3F0;
    color: white;
    padding: 8px 12px;
    /* Add your custom styles here */

Community Support and Resources

The level of community support and resources available can be a deciding factor when choosing a CSS framework. Both Pure.css and Skeleton have been around for several years and have built up communities around them, but their levels of activity differ.

Community Support for Pure.css

Pure.css, being developed by Yahoo, has a certain level of credibility and has been used in various Yahoo properties. The community support includes a dedicated Gitter chat for discussions and questions. There are also numerous tutorials and third-party articles available online.

Community Support for Skeleton

Skeleton, on the other hand, is a smaller project and does not have the same level of corporate backing. However, it has a dedicated following and there are many developers who appreciate its simplicity. The Skeleton GitHub repository is the main place for community interaction, where users can file issues, make contributions, and ask for help.

Real-world Applications

Both frameworks are suitable for small to medium-sized projects that require a lightweight, responsive foundation without the overhead of larger frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation.

When to Use Pure.css

Pure.css is great when you want a bit more structure to your project without the bloat. It’s well-suited for web applications that need a responsive grid and a few UI components but don’t require extensive built-in styling or JavaScript components.

When to Use Skeleton

Skeleton is ideal for truly minimal websites, landing pages, or prototypes where you want almost complete creative control. It’s perfect for developers who want a grid and some basic styles to start with, but plan to write most of the CSS themselves.


In conclusion, both Pure.css and Skeleton offer unique advantages depending on the requirements of your project. Pure.css provides a modular approach with a slightly larger set of pre-styled components, which can be a time-saver for developers. Skeleton, with its ultra-minimalist approach, offers maximum flexibility and is perfect for projects where every byte counts.

Ultimately, the choice between Pure.css and Skeleton comes down to your project’s needs and your personal preference for styling. If you need a lightweight framework with a few more built-in styles, Pure.css might be the way to go. If you want the absolute minimum starting point for an even lighter footprint, Skeleton could be your best bet.

Remember, the best way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each framework is to try them out in your own projects. Experiment with the code samples provided, check out the documentation, and join the community discussions to see which framework aligns best with your development workflow.

More Pure.css Comparisons


What do you think?