Semantic UI vs Skeleton


In the realm of web development, CSS frameworks are invaluable tools that help developers create responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and functional user interfaces with ease. Among the plethora of options, Semantic UI and Skeleton stand out for their unique approaches to design and usability. This article provides an in-depth comparison of these two frameworks, covering every aspect from their philosophies to their practical applications.

Semantic UI

Semantic UI is a comprehensive UI component framework that uses human-friendly HTML for its development approach, making it intuitive and engaging for developers. It is known for its sleek design, a wide range of components, and theming capabilities.

Key Features

  • Extensive Components: Semantic UI comes with a rich set of pre-designed components like buttons, cards, loaders, and more.
  • Theming: It allows for extensive customization through themes, enabling developers to tailor the look and feel to their project’s requirements.
  • Intuitive Class Names: The class names in Semantic UI follow natural language principles, making the code more readable and maintainable.
  • Community and Support: It has a large community and provides good documentation, which makes learning and troubleshooting easier.

Documentation and Installation

For a comprehensive guide to using Semantic UI, you can visit the official documentation. To install Semantic UI in your project, you have several options:

  • CDN: Include the CDN link in your HTML file.
  • NPM: Install via npm with npm install semantic-ui.
  • Yarn: Install via yarn with yarn add semantic-ui.

Popular Add-ons

  • Semantic-UI-React: A React integration for Semantic UI.
  • Semantic-UI-Forest: Themes and templates for Semantic UI.

Code Sample

Here is a simple example of a button in Semantic UI:

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


Skeleton is a minimalistic, lightweight CSS framework designed to provide the basic structure for responsive web designs. It’s perfect for small projects or when you don’t need the full-fledged feature set of larger frameworks.

Key Features

  • Lightweight: Skeleton is only a few kilobytes in size, making it ideal for projects where speed and performance are critical.
  • Responsive Grid: It includes a responsive grid system that adapts your website to mobile, tablet, and desktop viewports.
  • Minimalist Approach: With Skeleton, you get the bare essentials for styling, which allows for faster project starts without the overhead of excessive features.
  • No JavaScript: Skeleton is purely CSS, which means there are no JavaScript components to worry about.

Documentation and Installation

Skeleton’s simplicity is reflected in its documentation. To get started with Skeleton, you can:

  • Download: Grab the skeleton.css file from the website and include it in your project.
  • CDN: Link directly to the Skeleton CDN in your HTML.

Popular Add-ons

Skeleton is designed to be minimal, and as such, there aren’t many add-ons. However, developers often pair it with other libraries if additional functionality is needed.

Code Sample

Here’s an example of a responsive grid in Skeleton:

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="one-half column">Half</div>
    <div class="one-half column">Half</div>

Comparing Semantic UI and Skeleton

When choosing between Semantic UI and Skeleton, it’s essential to consider the scope of your project and the level of customization you need. Semantic UI offers a rich set of components and customization options, making it suitable for complex projects. Skeleton, on the other hand, is perfect for simpler applications where a lightweight framework is preferred.

Design Philosophy

  • Semantic UI: Focuses on human-friendly HTML and extensive components.
  • Skeleton: Aims to provide the bare bones needed for responsive design without additional fluff.

Community and Ecosystem

Semantic UI boasts a larger community and ecosystem, providing more resources, extensions, and third-party integrations. Skeleton’s community is smaller, given its niche as a minimalist framework.

Learning Curve

Semantic UI’s learning curve might be steeper due to its extensive features and customization options. Skeleton is straightforward and can be picked up quickly, especially if you have a good grasp of basic CSS.


Skeleton is the clear winner in terms of performance due to its small footprint. Semantic UI’s larger size means it can have a more significant impact on your site’s load time.

Use Cases

  • Semantic UI: Ideal for enterprise-level applications, complex websites, and projects where design consistency is crucial.
  • Skeleton: Best suited for small projects, prototypes, or when you need to put up a website quickly without the need for a full-scale framework.

Conclusion of the First Half

Both Semantic UI and Skeleton serve their purposes in the web development ecosystem. Semantic UI provides a robust, feature-rich environment for building complex user interfaces, while Skeleton offers a lean solution for projects that require speed and simplicity. Your choice between the two should be guided by the specific needs of your project, your familiarity with CSS, and the importance of performance versus functionality.

In the next section, we will delve deeper into customization, responsiveness, browser compatibility, and real-world applications of both frameworks, providing code samples and practical insights to help you make an informed decision.

Customization and Flexibility

Customization is an important aspect to consider when choosing a CSS framework, as it determines how much you can tailor the design to meet your needs.

Semantic UI Customization

Semantic UI offers a high degree of customization through its theming system. You can change the look and feel of components using theme variables and override styles with your own CSS. Semantic UI’s theming engine is built with LESS, a popular CSS pre-processor, which allows for more dynamic and manageable stylesheets.

Code Sample for Semantic UI Theming

@import "definitions/globals/site.variables";

@buttonColor: #20B2AA; // LightSeaGreen
@buttonHoverColor: darken(@buttonColor, 10%);

.ui.button {
  background-color: @buttonColor;
  &:hover {
    background-color: @buttonHoverColor;

Skeleton Customization

Skeleton is minimal out of the box, which means it’s meant to be customized. It doesn’t have a built-in theming system like Semantic UI, but its simplicity makes it easy to override styles. You can create your own CSS file and include it after Skeleton’s stylesheet to customize the design.

Code Sample for Customizing Skeleton

/* Custom styles.css */
.button-primary {
  background-color: #30aabc;
  border-color: #259dab;
  color: white;
.button-primary:hover {
  background-color: #259dab;


A responsive design ensures that your website looks good on all devices, from desktops to smartphones. Both Semantic UI and Skeleton offer responsive design features, but they approach it differently.

Semantic UI Responsiveness

Semantic UI uses a flexbox-based grid system that provides a high level of control over layout and alignment of elements. It includes predefined classes for different device sizes, which makes it easy to build responsive designs.

Code Sample for Semantic UI Grid

<div class="ui three column stackable grid">
  <div class="column">...</div>
  <div class="column">...</div>
  <div class="column">...</div>

Skeleton Responsiveness

Skeleton’s grid is based on a simple 12-column fluid grid. It’s less feature-rich than Semantic UI’s grid but is sufficient for basic responsive layouts.

Code Sample for Skeleton Grid

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="one-third column">...</div>
    <div class="one-third column">...</div>
    <div class="one-third column">...</div>

Browser Compatibility

Browser compatibility is crucial for ensuring that your website works well across all browsers.

Semantic UI Browser Support

Semantic UI supports a wide range of browsers, including the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. It also provides some support for Internet Explorer 11, though some features may not work perfectly.

Skeleton Browser Support

Skeleton is also compatible with modern browsers and offers support for older browsers like Internet Explorer. Due to its simplicity, it’s less likely to run into compatibility issues.

Real-World Applications

When choosing between Semantic UI and Skeleton, consider the scale and complexity of your project.

When to Use Semantic UI

  • Large-scale applications with complex UI components.
  • Projects that require a consistent design across various elements.
  • When you need a wide range of pre-designed components and layouts.

When to Use Skeleton

  • Small to medium-sized projects that need a quick start without the bloat of a full framework.
  • Websites that require a minimalistic approach with fast loading times.
  • When you prefer to write more custom CSS and need a simple grid system as a foundation.


Semantic UI and Skeleton both offer unique benefits and cater to different project needs. Semantic UI is feature-rich and suitable for developers who want a broad set of UI components and extensive customization options. Skeleton, on the other hand, is ideal for those who need a lightweight, no-frills framework that can be easily customized and quickly deployed.

In the end, the choice between Semantic UI and Skeleton boils down to the specific requirements of your project and your personal or team’s preference in workflow. It’s always a good idea to experiment with both frameworks on smaller projects to get a feel for their capabilities and limitations.

By understanding the strengths and use cases of Semantic UI and Skeleton, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your development goals and leads to the successful implementation of your web design projects.

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