Love it or Hate it, Bootstrap is Winning the Web

bootstrap

Back in August 2013, we wrote a post called, “The Bootstrap Boom is Just Getting Started“.

At that time, we estimated that Bootstrap powered between 1.5% and 3% of the web.

2 years later, I decided to check in on Bootstrap. How popular is the framework now? Did the Bootstrap boom continue, or has it bust?

The screenshot below is of Builtwith.com’s stats from mid-2013. You can see that Bootstrap’s usage was between 1.6% and 2.8%, depending on how which measurement you used:

This next screenshot shows today’s stats from BuiltWith.com. Bootstrap is between 3 and 5 times more popular than it was in mid-2013. Close to 10% of all websites are using Bootstrap!

Next, I used Google Trends to estimate the popularity of searches for Bootstrap.

Bootstrap was open sourced in August 2011. You can searches start to increase almost immediately and they’ve continued climbing ever since:

Just in case you think these searches might be related to actual boots, here’s what Google shows as related searches:

In the WordPress world, the number of themes using Bootstrap has exploded:

  • I looked in January 2013 and only found 8 WordPress themes using Bootstrap.
  • In mid-2013, there were 30 themes on WordPress.org that support Bootstrap.
  • Today, the WordPress Theme Directory has 221 Bootstrap-based themes. That’s 11% of all their themes.

Beyond WordPress, other popular platforms use Bootstrap in a big way:

  • Joomla 3 uses Bootstrap in the core.
  • The third most popular theme on Drupal.org is “Bootstrap”. Many of the biggest Drupal sites, including NASA, use Bootstrap. There are even suggestions that Drupal should add Bootstrap to the core, as Joomla did.
  • Themeforest lists 19,645 designs and an incredible 34% of those refer to using Bootstrap.

Summary

I was genuinely shocked to see how far Bootstrap’s popularity has grown.

Bootstrap is becoming the design version of PHP.

Both offer easy experiences for newcomers, when compared to the alternatives.

Both are widely mocked by purists.

Both are winning absolutely massive market share.

Instructor

  • Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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kevinquillen

I think the numbers are somewhat inflated because deep down I feel most themers are looking for a solid grid system, not so much all of the bells and whistles that Bootstrap and Foundation provide. I have seen more cases where themers will say “wow this grid just works” then spend time figuring out how to de-engineer/de-style framework components, or try to use their own with ease and run into issues.
This is the current trend right now, but I feel in 1-3 years the next wave will be hybrid frameworks starting with a solid grid system and very little if any out of the box style, so you can build your own set of tools quickly.

steve

Good points, Kevin. There definitely are downsides to Bootstrap, like with PHP, WordPress and other dominant tools. I guess it shows just how strong they are in other areas.

sonicthoughts

Another statistic is about 350K downloads and 72K active users of [url=http://drupal.org/project/bootstrap]drupal.org/project/bootstrap[/url] however it is a constant battle to theme with drupal. Here is a great perspective on bootstrap theming…https://[url=http://drupalwatchdog.com/blog/2015/8/drupal-should-use-external-front-end-framework%5Ddrupalwatchdog.com/blog/201…[/url]

steve

What an interesting link. Thanks Shawn. That’s worth adding to the article itself.

Ivan Jaros

I prefer Foundation. Not to mention every single page that uses Bootstrap looks the same. Just like you can always spot a Drupal website 😉

kevinquillen

I spent a lot of time along with Chris Lee making the Foundation framework theme very usable, and it has been mostly successful. This is why I chose to step back and start with just a grid system, sensible defaults, and allow the themer to choose their path from there using the Neat grid system.
[url=http://www.velir.com/blog/index.php/2015/06/05/neato-a-neat-bourbon-based-theme-framework-for-drupal/]http://www.velir.com/blog/i…[/url]

steve

Ivan – agreed. I hear that a lot from pro designers. However, Foundation is a long way behind in terms of momentum and market share.

Ivan Jaros

“Market share”. Those are sales terms. I am a developer and Foundation is, in my opinion, a better when it comes to technological aspect. I haven’t used Bootstrap for a long time now so maybe it’s better now. But I don’t care. I still use Foundation everywhere. To me, Bootstrap is the shiny WordPress for everyone out there. But Foundation is the carefully thought-out Drupal that is not for everyone but for people who know better ,)
But since Drupal 8 finally removed any Drupalisms from its core I don’t care which framework will be used since no classes will be present in the core code. So if nothing is hardcoded I’m a happy camper.

steve

Yes, a sales term in some situations, but it has very practical repercussions.
It might be a sales term to say WordPress runs 25% of the web, but the practical repercussion is that most designers and developers will have to deal with it regularly. The same with Bootstrap.

silverngold

Ivan, you have to go back to the title of this article. Winning the web. Lesson here for developers is: best sales team wins the day, in many cases with an inferior product. Its been happening to me for years and years. We spend our time doing what we actually present and some hot shots come in with an inferior product, but a better sales team and gain market share.

Brad Williams

I have been developing premium WordPress themes with Bootstrap for a couple years now, I even have a course over at [url=http://BootstrapWP.com]BootstrapWP.com[/url] that goes over how to build a WordPress theme with Bootstrap step-by-step.
Bootstrap 4 is about to be released (august 2015) and I can only see it getting more popular. Flexbox FTW!

Ivan Milincic

I love using [url=http://getuikit.com/]http://getuikit.com/[/url]. Great semantics, lightweight. Agree with Kevin, most of users use frameworks only for grid system, but uikit has some nice js components to.

steve

Thanks Ivan. We agreed – we use UIKit on this site 🙂

renekreijveld

I disagree with the opinion that all Bootstrap templates look the same. You can blame the designer for that, don’t blame Bootstrap itself. We’ve built many Bootstrap based websites and they sure don’t look “bootstrapish”. Bootstrap has evolved from version 1 to 2 (used in Joomla), to 3 and now alpha 4 is available. It’s a bit a shame that these versions aren’t backwards compatible. Bootstrap 3 is much better than 2, but unfortunately Joomla outputs Bootstrap 2 based html code. Therefor to use Bootstrap 3 in a Joomla 3 based website you will have to write quite some overrides. And Boostrap 4 will be different again.
Another good thing I find about Bootstrap is that there are many many resources and extensions available. For Foundation that is a but less (which I find a nice CSS framework too).

NeonTigerUK

I agree – for many months there has been a growing number of people saying that template makers RocketTheme, YooTheme and the like are getting lazy with the monthly templates. Ok, any good designer SHOULD be able to individualise/ customise to suit the clients needs, but for the last 18 months the trend seems to be “tart up” not develop new ideas 🙁
I know RocketTheme have just released Gantry5 so development hasn’t stopped -but- releasing a new framework is t an excuse to tweak and re-release all the old templates with a new name
Let’s see some proper revolutionary designs, from the clubs and designers for both free and premium themes / templates

Rick Donohoe

A lot of them do look the same, simply because it’s easy to create a website that looks pretty good without too much work when using Bootstrap. But I agree with renekreijveld, in that the concept apples to other themes too; it’s simply down to the designer and developer and how much additional effort they are willing to put in to make their sites look unique.
We use it with many of our Drupal projects and have written a couple of in-depth tutorials for those looking for help using it with Drupal 7. Feel free to check them out and share if you find them helpful:
Setting Up Bootstrap in Drupal 7: [url=https://microserve.io/blogs/setting-bootstrap-drupal-7]https://microserve.io/blogs…[/url]
Getting Bootstrap Grid Classes Into Drupal 7 CMS Markup: [url=https://microserve.io/blogs/getting-bootstrap-grid-classes-drupal-7-cms-markup]https://microserve.io/blogs…[/url]

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