Vanilla CSS vs Bootstrap vs Tailwind: An Analysis

Victoria Lo
5 min readSep 13, 2020

Hello everyone! Today’s article is something I’ve always wanted to discuss. I remembered when I first learned CSS and hearing about Bootstrap and other frameworks like Materialize. At that time, I was unsure if I should learn these frameworks but I ended up with Bootstrap for a team project and it stuck around. And now Tailwind CSS seems to be rising in popularity, which makes me ponder if I should learn once again.

In this article, we will be looking at Vanilla CSS, Bootstrap and Tailwind CSS; analyzing their pros and cons and determining which one is best to learn in 2020. So let’s begin!

CSS

My experience with CSS is that it is easy to pick up but hard to master. I do like CSS because I like to create custom styles that feels like my own. Also, it minimizes code as you are only writing styles that your site needs. Loading large chunks of CSS can slow down page loading time so by writing vanilla CSS, you reduce unnecessary code and boost your page’s speed.

However, writing CSS from scratch can be daunting and tedious for many developers. This is especially true when the product you’re making does not need custom designs but just a basic, simple look. In this case, it may be better to just use a framework, like Bootstrap, so let’s take a look what it has to offer.

Bootstrap

When I first discovered Bootstrap, I really love how fast I can make website templates with it. A simple blue button can be written as:

It’s easy to learn, fast to implement and have a well-designed library of elements to use. It is also consistent across any devices or browsers, which means the website will remain looking good in terms of cross-device or cross-browser.

The downside is that it is so popular that many websites use it; so unless you override some styles with custom ones, your website will look very similar to other websites. Like a copy-paste.

Another con is that using Bootstrap means that we are importing large chunks of CSS code, whether we use it or not. For example, if our website don’t have card or dropdown elements on it, we will still import the styles of unused elements when using Bootstrap. That can impact page performance, even with…

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Victoria Lo

A nerd in books, tea and programming. I publish weekly on my personal blog: https://lo-victoria.com/