Semantic UI vs Pure.css

When it comes to building modern, responsive websites, CSS frameworks are an invaluable tool for web developers. They provide a set of pre-designed components and utilities that can greatly speed up development time and ensure consistency across different browsers and devices. In this article, we will delve into an in-depth comparison of two popular CSS frameworks: Semantic UI and Pure.css. We’ll explore their features, performance, community support, and more to help you decide which framework is best suited for your next project.

Introduction to Semantic UI

Semantic UI is a feature-rich, component-based framework that emphasizes human-friendly HTML. It provides a comprehensive collection of elements, collections, views, modules, and behaviors that allow developers to create beautiful, responsive layouts with ease.

Semantic UI uses human-friendly HTML and leverages a declarative style of coding. This makes it easier for anyone reading the code to understand what each part of the website is supposed to do. It’s built on jQuery and LESS, and it offers a wide range of pre-styled components that you can customize through themes.

Popular Add-ons for Semantic UI

  • Semantic UI React: Semantic UI React is the official React integration for Semantic UI.
  • Semantic UI Fomantic: Fomantic UI is a community fork of Semantic UI that adds new features and components.

Semantic UI Code Sample

Here’s a simple example of a Semantic UI button:

<button class="ui button">Click Here</button>

Introduction to Pure.css

Pure.css, often referred to as Pure, is a minimalistic approach to CSS frameworks. It’s a set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project.

Pure is developed by Yahoo and is incredibly lightweight. It’s perfect for projects that require a clean, efficient, and highly customizable framework. Pure is built with mobile-first principles in mind, ensuring that your project is responsive on all devices.

Popular Add-ons for Pure.css

While Pure.css is designed to be minimal and doesn’t have an official set of add-ons, the community has created various resources to extend its functionality:

  • Pure.css Layouts: Pure.css Layouts provide starting points for various design patterns.
  • Pure.css Themes: The community has developed various themes that can be found on GitHub and other repositories.

Pure.css Code Sample

Here’s an example of a Pure.css menu:

<div class="pure-menu pure-menu-horizontal">
    <a href="#" class="pure-menu-heading pure-menu-link">Brand</a>
    <ul class="pure-menu-list">
        <li class="pure-menu-item"><a href="#" class="pure-menu-link">Home</a></li>
        <li class="pure-menu-item"><a href="#" class="pure-menu-link">About</a></li>
        <li class="pure-menu-item"><a href="#" class="pure-menu-link">Contact</a></li>

Comparing Features

Design Components

Semantic UI:
Semantic UI comes with a vast array of components out of the box. This includes buttons, icons, loaders, cards, and much more. Each component is highly customizable and follows a consistent design language.

Pure focuses on being as minimal as possible, which means it offers fewer components than Semantic UI. However, the components it does provide, such as grids, forms, buttons, and menus, are well-designed and easy to work with.


Semantic UI:
Semantic UI allows deep customization through its theming system. You can tweak the design variables using LESS, making it possible to tailor the look and feel of your site to match your brand identity.

With Pure, customization is done primarily through CSS overrides. Since Pure is minimal by design, it acts as a thin layer that can be easily styled to fit your design requirements.

Community and Support

Semantic UI:
Semantic UI has a large community and a significant number of contributors on GitHub. The community provides support through various channels, including Stack Overflow and the official GitHub repository.

While Pure.css may not have as large a community as Semantic UI, it still has a dedicated following. Support can be found through Stack Overflow, GitHub, and other online forums.


Semantic UI:
Due to its comprehensive list of features, Semantic UI is larger in size compared to Pure. This can impact the load times of websites, especially if only a subset of the components is used.

Pure is incredibly lightweight, which means it has a minimal impact on performance. It’s an excellent choice for projects where speed and efficiency are a priority.


Both Semantic UI and Pure.css have their strengths and are suited to different types of projects. Semantic UI’s rich component library and customization options make it ideal for developers who want a comprehensive framework with a lot of built-in functionality. On the other hand, Pure.css is perfect for those who prefer a lightweight, minimalistic approach that can be easily extended.

In the next section, we will dive deeper into code examples, explore how to customize themes in both frameworks, and discuss best practices for integrating Semantic UI and Pure.css into your development workflow. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis and practical tips.

Advanced Customization and Theming

Semantic UI Theming

Semantic UI’s theming system is one of its most powerful features. It allows developers to build a brand-specific look by modifying the underlying variables of the framework. Semantic UI uses LESS, a pre-processor that extends the capabilities of CSS with variables, mixins, and functions.

To customize a theme in Semantic UI, you can modify the theme.config file. This file acts as a central control for theming and lets you specify which theme to use for each type of component.

Here’s an example of how to change the button’s theme:

/* theme.config */
@button : 'my-custom-theme';

Then, in your custom theme file, you can override the default styles:

/* site/themes/my-custom-theme/elements/button.less */
.ui.button {
  background-color: @myBrandColor;
  border-radius: @myBrandBorderRadius;

By using the theming system, you can maintain a consistent style across your project while leveraging all the components Semantic UI offers.

Pure.css Customization

While Pure.css doesn’t offer a built-in theming system like Semantic UI, its minimal footprint makes it easy to customize with your own CSS. Since Pure.css is meant to be a starting point, you can create your own stylesheets that override the default styles of Pure components.

For example, to customize a button in Pure.css, you simply write your CSS as you would normally:

.pure-button {
    background-color: #1a8cff;
    color: white;
    border-radius: 4px;
    padding: 0.5em 2em;

This approach gives you complete control over the styling of your components, and since Pure.css is so minimal, there’s less risk of running into specificity issues.

Code Examples and Best Practices

To give you a better idea of how Semantic UI and Pure.css can be used in practice, let’s look at a more complex code example for each framework.

Semantic UI Example: Creating a Responsive Navbar

Semantic UI’s responsive design makes it easy to create a navbar that adapts to different screen sizes. Here’s an example of a simple responsive navbar using Semantic UI:

<div class="ui stackable menu">
  <div class="item">
    <img src="logo.png" alt="Brand Logo">
  <a class="item">Home</a>
  <a class="item">About</a>
  <a class="item">Contact</a>
  <div class="right menu">
    <div class="item">
      <div class="ui primary button">Sign Up</div>
    <div class="item">
      <div class="ui button">Log In</div>

This code will create a navbar that stacks the menu items vertically on smaller screens and displays them inline on larger screens.

Pure.css Example: Creating a Responsive Grid

Pure.css is known for its lightweight grid system that can be used to create responsive layouts. Here’s how you can create a responsive two-column layout with Pure.css:

<div class="pure-g">
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-2">
        <!-- Content for the first column -->
        <p>This is the first column.</p>
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-2">
        <!-- Content for the second column -->
        <p>This is the second column.</p>

In this example, each column will take up the full width of its container on small screens and half the width on medium screens and up.

Integrating Semantic UI and Pure.css into Your Workflow

When incorporating Semantic UI or Pure.css into your development workflow, there are some best practices to follow:

  • Semantic UI: Use a build tool like Gulp or Webpack to compile your custom LESS files. Take advantage of Semantic UI’s built-in gulp tasks to streamline your development process.
  • Pure.css: Since Pure.css is just CSS, you can link to it directly in your HTML or import it into your own CSS files. Keep your overrides separate from the Pure.css source files to make future updates easier.


In conclusion, both Semantic UI and Pure.css offer unique benefits that cater to different project needs. Semantic UI is ideal for those who want a full-featured, customizable framework with a wide range of components. Pure.css is perfect for developers looking for a lightweight, minimalistic approach that can be easily extended.

By understanding the strengths and capabilities of each framework, you can make an informed decision about which one will best serve your project’s requirements. Whether you choose Semantic UI’s rich interactive components or Pure.css’s streamlined efficiency, both frameworks can help you build beautiful, responsive websites with less effort.

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