When you’re trying to get your project up and running, whether a website or app, bootstrap templates are a fast way to skip some of the intense coding that goes into the framework of a new site. However, not all of them are created equal. You want one that has all the basics you need without any error in the coding or things that might slow down an app or a website. Bootstrap is a combination of HTML5 and CSS3, which is responsive to mobile devices and easily customizable.
There are approximately 1.7 billion websites online, but not all of them are active. Still, you can see where you’re competing with more and more information all the time. Using bootstrap templates gives website designers and backend developers an advantage because you can focus on the user experience (UX) of the site and creative elements to engage your visitors or app users.
To save you a bit of time hunting through the numerous bootstrap templates out there, we’ve narrowed the choices down to our 12 favorites. They will help you get started no matter what type of site you’re designing.
If you’re looking for a simple, multipurpose bootstrap theme that is one page and doesn’t have bursts of color or anything to distract from the content, Grayscale is an excellent choice. One of the advantages of simple bootstrap templates is the ability to get your site up and running in a single day. Note the grayscale photograph in the hero image. This could easily be replaced by something pertinent to your business.
The scrolling is smooth in this theme, so the focus remains on the image as the user moves down the page. You can easily customize buttons and other features on the page.
A digital portfolio allows interested parties to access your past work with a few simple clicks. This portfolio template features a bootstrap framework. You can choose from six different color schemes, and it is fully responsive to all major device types. It offers three different levels for this theme. You can use it for free, but if you want extra features, you’ll pay $12 for lifetime access. You’ll gain the ability to remove the footer credit, add a contact form and access premium support.
For blogs, use personal bootstrap templates such as this one on Theme Fisher. It is free to download and features post pages and a CMS structure. The template also has a search bar so visitors can find the information they need quickly. It was made for beginning designers and should install and customize easily. You can choose from two different types of homepages and add a contact form.
Do you want to create the design yourself and just want the wireframe for the website? W3Schools offers several basic templates featuring a grid structure without the colors, images or other details more developed bootstrap templates have. For example, the webpage layout provides a header, two sidebars, the body and a footer. There is also a portfolio layout with grids for images. The blog layout also features a single left sidebar, footer and body.
Need to create an administrative dashboard for a website or app? SmartAdmin bootstrap gives you the framework, and you then customize it to suit your needs. A single license starts at $34 and contains reusable components for your user interface (UI). It ingrates with jQuery plugins so you can add unlimited features to your dashboard. The theme is updated regularly.
If you need a template that serves multiple purposes for both a website and mobile devices, then Serenity is a good one to look at. It works well for businesses, personal use, agencies or even for portfolio-style websites. Some of the features of this template include:
- 140 sprite icons
- Color palette in a single CSS file, so it’s easy to change and customize
- Sequence slider
- Zoom portfolio items
Basic features are free. Gain access to all of them for a one-time $12 fee.
Looking for a simple dashboard for your users? The Light Bootstrap Dashboard template comes with a collection of elements you can swap around to create a beautiful and intuitive admin panel. It works with a CMS or CRM. The basic version is free, or you can upgrade to the pro version and receive 120 more components, 15 plugins and four example pages. You’ll also gain access to full documentation, SASS files and Sketch files for better customization.
Do you want to get an e-commerce website up and running but aren’t sure which bootstrap templates work best? This one is made specifically for online stores. It is responsive to any type of device and powered by Bootstrap 3. There are pages ready to go, so you can use them as your template and hit the ground running. Add a slider to feature top products, fill in the detailed product listing, and implement the shopping cart and checkout page to meet your specifications. The template is free to download.
Landing pages allow you to convert site visitors into customers. Building a landing page is more about the content and grabbing a user’s attention, but what if you could cut down on the time spent designing the page by using one of the landing page bootstrap templates out there? We like this free version because it is simple and keeps the focus on the purpose of the page. You can use it to link to other pages and add or remove blocks to the page. The template is free.
If you’re designing a site for a post-secondary school, users expect a certain layout and look. This template allows you to get the basic structure right and then simply plug in new photos and details to match the school and its colors. Yes, it might look a little like other education sites out there, but users expect all university websites to be similar. This allows the potential student to see what the school offers at a glance and easily find different features. A single-use license is only $16.
If you need a landing page for a new app you’re designing, this is a time-saver. The landing page is designed with a mobile-first approach and is a one-page design with parallax scrolling. Features include HMTL5 and CSS3, Twitter Bootstrap and SASS, and three different variations on the landing page design. The template is compatible with multiple browsers including Safari, Chrome, Firefox and IE9.
If you need an industrial theme, this one offers a simple, but modern design easily customized to reach your intended audience. Swap out the hero image on the top left with a picture of the actual factory. Note the use of primary colors for the blocks. You can certainly adjust those color choices, but make sure you keep the contrast between the background and text strong and that the shades emphasize the ones in your photo. The theme runs $39, or you can upgrade and gain access to multiple choices and bootstrap templates for just over $159.
Using Bootstrap Templates
Figuring out the best places to utilize bootstrap templates isn’t always easy. You want unique designs that have a stamp of customization, but you also need to save time and money. Think about how you can use what is already available but make it your own. The best use of bootstrap won’t sacrifice design quality.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.