Do We Utilize Responsive Templates or Frameworks?

January 31, 2020

LLT Group

Having developed all sites with responsiveness in mind for at least the last 7+ years, the question is often asked by clients as to whether or not we look to use a framework (ie Bootstrap, Foundation, etc). While we have in very specific cases, the answer is almost no. For frontend frameworks we typically utilize custom media queries, regardless of whether it is a website or a web application. 

The only times we utilize a framework is if we are developing something into an existing development team that leverages that specific framework (or wants to) or if utilizes the framework helps to reduce the cost and time associated with putting up an MVP software initially.

Depending on the specific scope we actually often design custom for Desktop, Tablet and Mobile in order to best convert those UI experiences into the appropriate UX flows. The exception is when a client requests for us to use a framework and in that case it is typically Tailwind, Bootstrap or Foundation.

Below is a brief discussion of how we think about responsive frameworks in regards to a project structure.

Tony: So, do we adhere, or when do we adhere to frameworks for web design response? 

Jake: Yeah, everything we build is responsive.  You’d have a difficult time building a site these days that isn’t responsive, unless you know that 95% of your users are going to be coming in on a desktop.  Everything that we do is responsive. As far as the tools and technologies we use behind responsive design, our team is good enough to where they write all that themselves.  We know how CSS works, we know how the browser and animations and media queries, all these things happen, and so more often than not, we build those things. However, if there are tools that maybe get us a little bit farther, we’re more than willing and capable of using them.  So, like Bootstrap for example is a very popular frontend library that has components and/or responsive capabilities, and so we have clients sometimes that the UI isn’t as important, and they just need something that’s functioning, and so we might lean more on that Bootstrap. There’s also other libraries like Tailwind which is a personal favorite of mine, that’s all utility class based and it allows you to still have a custom UI but has a standardized process and utilities and how you work with all those classes.  At the end of the day it’s going to be determined by the project and the people working on it, and what they feel most comfortable with.  

Tony: Yeah, I know a huge thing is maintainability by client, because we’ve had clients in the past that they say, hey, I want Bootstrap, I want Foundation, I want a framework because the people I’m going to be having, we want to build documentation, style guide, components library, that they don’t know how to do custom media queries, and so where that change is happening and by who plays a large factor.  

Jake: That’s a big advantage of going more of the UI library approach, is that if I have a Tailwind question, I go to the Tailwind docs and there it is.  If somebody else on my team is popping into my code and sees that I’m using Tailwind, they can do the very same thing, versus as soon as you hop into something that’s a little bit more custom, you have to learn some of that.  That has advantages and disadvantages, but again, like you said, it really comes down to the team and where you’re planning on taking it.

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