Making Bootstrap Less Bootstrap-y

in Front-end

Today’s websites share a lot of common building blocks. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a newly designed site that doesn’t feature buttons, forms, and responsive grids, among other similarities. These components have become staples of modern web design, and you’re likely to need them in every project you take on. Using Bootstrap for your front-end can definitely save a lot of time when building these features out, but it also has a tendency to make sites look a lot like Bootstrap. Thankfully, you can tailor Bootstrap to better fit your project by making a few painless changes.

We encourage you to customize and adapt Bootstrap to suit your individual project’s needs.

Bootstrap Documentation

Choose Different Fonts

One of the quickest ways to distinguish your Bootstrap site from others is by customizing the font families you use for headings and body copy. By default, Bootstrap uses Helvetica Neue, Arial, Georgia, and other tried-and-true system fonts. While these font families are often considered the web’s most reliable workhorses, users may find they feel monotonous when seen across multiple Bootstrap sites.

You can help add a distinct look and feel to your site by trying out some different font families from a provider like Google Fonts and figuring out which ones best fit the tone of your site’s content.

See the Pen Bootstrap Typography by John D. Jameson (@johndjameson) on CodePen.

For examples of custom fonts on the web, check out the always amazing Beautiful Web Type.

Change Component Styles

Bootstrap has a pre-built version of almost every user interface element you could possibly need. But, like Bootstrap’s default typography, many users have encountered these styles before and are ready for something different. For example, Bootstrap includes variables to change button colors, font weights, borders, and backgrounds, but there are other styles you can experiment with outside of what the framework offers. Try playing around with CSS properties like text-transform, letter-spacing, and box-shadow, and then see how you can reflect those changes in other Bootstrap components.

See the Pen Bootstrap Components by John D. Jameson (@johndjameson) on CodePen.

Make Bootstrap Unique

As you’re developing a website, it’s important to look at each interaction and figure out what’s best for the project. If Bootstrap doesn’t have everything you need, try not to rearrange a project’s design or content to fit within the framework. You’ll still need to get your hands dirty writing custom CSS and JavaScript from time to time, and a website’s unique design elements go a long way in helping it stand out from the crowd.

Making the decision to use Bootstrap sets up a built-to-last foundation that’s also open to any additions you may throw its way. With all of the commonplace components out of the way, you get to focus on building something new — and that’s the fun part.

Have you used Bootstrap for websites? Got any tips or tricks for customizing sites? Let us know how you’ve made your mark on Bootstrap in the comments section below! If you’re new to Bootstrap, be sure to check out Code School’s Bootstrap tutorial, Blasting Off with Bootstrap.

Code School

Code School teaches web technologies in the comfort of your browser with video lessons, coding challenges, and screencasts. We strive to help you learn by doing.

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About the Author

John D. Jameson

Front-end Developer at Code School. Geeks out over web typography, used books, and making way too many CodePen demos.

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