Most "Why Choose Bootstrap" posts focus on the framework; how easy it is to implement, how it can save you time, how customizable it is and how it uses a responsive grid… you know the same old song and dance. As a designer myself, I wanted to write a post on why I prefer to use Bootstrap from a design perspective. I've heard a lot of designers complain about Bootstrap and how it is just homogenizing web sites and apps, and if your a designer you should be designing your own interface.
For me Twitter Bootstrap is a wonderful design tool because as a designer I don't have to focus so much on the UI components and focus more on the overall design of the app and its users. Let's face it, for the average little website Bootstrap is kind of big framework to use and it's really probably overkill. But for web based applications and large data driven and heavy interactive websites it's a fantastic design tool. We live in a web that demands more from it's designers; better visual design, better interactive design and better information architecture and Bootstrap is a great frame work to help designers and developers meet these standards.
I've put together a list of reasons why I believe you should start using Bootstrap, not only from development stand point, but from a design stand point. Along with my list of reasons I've sprinkled in some great design examples of sites and apps that are using Bootstrap to improve their designs and usability.
Fast and Flexible.
Okay, we have all heard that Bootstrap can save us time and it's very true, Bootstrap will save you time. You don't have to think about the UI as much. You don't have to design the UI structures and the foundational elements. Beyond that, the best part is that you don't have to stress of the interaction design of a combo box, a popover or transitions. Bootstrap has already designed easy to use and powerful interactions so all you have to think about is which component will best suit your users.
This can be one of the hardest design principles to implement inside a large application or website. Straight out of the box Bootstrap is consistent, not only in its visual design, but more importantly, its interaction design. Consistency is a huge factor in creating an amazing user experience and even with some customization Bootstrap will still remain consistent. Bootstrap allows you to build better relationships and trust with your users because your not changing and altering UI components between views.
Blends In and Doesn't Distract.
A great user interface is basically invisible. As a designer you don't ever want a UI that is so distracting a user can't access the content they want or accomplish their goals. Bootstrap is not real flashy, it stands out when it needs to and blends in when it needs to. Bootstrap UI feels and acts more like a tour guide than a hurdle or stumbling block.
Bootstrap is a great way to add interaction and animation to a web site or app without really doing the heavy lifting. It promotes a more intuitive and interactive web site because it has done the work for you. Look, interactions are really hard things to design, test and build. Bootstrap can solve some of these hard things since the majority of interaction has been done for you already and like I said early you can focus on the larger, more critical design elements like how a user will flow through and app and extract its contents with ease. Interactions are fun and Bootstrap is a great, simple way to add slick interactions and animations to your site and app.
Appearance Follows Behavior.
A monstrous principle of any really will craft design is "form follows function" and Bootstrap does just that. Bootstrap behaves the way it's designed and users love thing that behave the way they are designed - users like to be comfortable and not feel like they've been tricked. Bad UI doesn't correctly represent what it supposed to do with what it looks like its supposed to do. Visually, the UI components represent exactly what they are supposed to and not only from a functional standpoint, but also from a feedback stand point.
This compliments "form follows function" a bit, when the appliance follows behavior the appearance and behavior start to become predictable and predictability is a huge plus when your design needs to be usable.This, combined with the consistency of Bootstrap, make Bootstrap hugely predictable, almost boring. But this is what you want from a great UI, you want predictability, your want reliability and you want clear and fun animations and interactions - Bootstrap accomplished this.
Most of the time we don't associate UI components and hierarchy. We generally think of them as just buttons, inputs, warnings and drop downs. But when used an a site, Bootstrap does create a great sense of hierarchy - not only visually but functionally as well. From it's use of 'primary' and 'secondary' buttons to the positions and relationships between components, Bootstrap does a fine job of directing the users eye through strong visual relationships to as well as guiding the user through its interactions.
There are a lot of reasons why designers and developers have chosen to use and implement Twitter Bootstrap on their sites and apps. In every case, one of the main reasons will always be how fast and easy it is to use. But Bootstrap is not only just a quick and dirty way to create clean interactive designs, it's also a great set of design tools that can be used to improve the over all design and user experience of your application or web site. To be fair, Bootstrap is not going to be a great solution for every interaction design challenge but what it is, is a very well thought out and well designed and well tested framework that enables today's web designers to accomplish all of the many tasks and demands that are required these days.