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Parul Verma
Parul Verma

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Choosing the Right CSS Approach: Tailwind CSS vs Bootstrap vs Vanilla CSS

Gone are the days of plain HTML and basic CSS ruling the web development realm. With the ever-growing demand for visually stunning user interfaces, the landscape has shifted towards the adoption of CSS frameworks. These frameworks have not only simplified development but have also empowered developers to create captivating web applications effortlessly.

In this article, we delve deep into the 3 prominent CSS approaches: Tailwind CSS, Bootstrap, and Native CSS. Each possesses its own set of unique features and advantages, catering to different development needs and preferences.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind CSS operates on a unique premise of utility-first classes, revolutionizing the way developers approach styling in web development. With its granular control over elements, Tailwind CSS empowers developers by allowing them to simply add classes to style elements, eliminating the need for traditional CSS.


  1. Flexibility: Tailwind CSS offers immense flexibility, providing developers with full control over element styling. This framework allows developers to tailor styles precisely to their requirements, offering a truly customizable approach to web design.
  2. Consistency: By leveraging utility classes, Tailwind CSS ensures design consistency across applications. Developers can easily reuse the same classes for similar elements, maintaining a cohesive and unified design language throughout the project.

  3. Small File Size: One of Tailwind CSS’s standout features is its ability to optimize bundle size. By bundling only the classes utilized in the application, Tailwind CSS ensures minimal file size, enhancing performance without compromising.


  1. Customization Challenges: While Tailwind CSS offers extensive utility classes for styling, customization beyond the predefined classes can be challenging. Developers may find themselves limited by the framework’s predefined styles, requiring additional effort to implement custom designs.

  2. Learning Curve: Adopting Tailwind CSS entails a learning curve for developers accustomed to traditional CSS methodologies. Navigating the extensive utility classes and mastering the framework’s conventions may require time and effort, especially for those new to utility-first approaches.

When to choose Tailwind CSS:

  1. Rapid Prototyping: In situations demanding swift iterations, Tailwind CSS shines. Its utility-based approach facilitates quick incorporation of changes, expediting the prototyping process without the need for extensive custom CSS.

  2. Design Consistency: For projects requiring consistent design language, Tailwind CSS proves invaluable. Leveraging its utility classes, developers effortlessly maintain design coherence across the application, eliminating the need for cumbersome custom CSS solutions.

  3. Small to Mid-sized projects: Tailwind CSS is well-suited for small to medium-sized projects where maintaining a small bundle size and optimizing performance are priorities. Its ability to generate minimal CSS output based on used utility classes makes it ideal for projects where file size matters.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap is one of the most popular CSS frameworks which is known for its ready to use components.


  1. Ready-to-Use Components: Bootstrap comes with a complete set of pre-built components that you can easily integrate into your project. These components are well-designed and styled, saving you time and effort in development.

  2. Large Community Support: With Bootstrap being in the market for a significant amount of time, it boasts a large and active community of developers. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, you’ll find ample resources, tutorials, and forums to seek assistance from when encountering issues.

  3. Responsive Grid System: One of Bootstrap’s standout features is its responsive grid system, which divides the layout into 12 columns. This grid system simplifies the process of arranging and aligning content, ensuring that your website looks great across various devices and screen sizes.


  1. Customization Limitations: While Bootstrap offers a wide range of components and styling options out-of-the-box, it can be challenging to customize these elements to fit your specific design requirements. Customizing Bootstrap components may require overriding default styles or delving into the framework’s Sass files, which can be time-consuming and complex.

  2. Large Bundle Size: Incorporating Bootstrap into your project can significantly increase its file size, leading to longer loading times and potentially affecting performance, especially on slower internet connections. This large bundle size may also include unused components, contributing to unnecessary bloat in your project.

When to use Bootstrap

  1. Bundle Size is Not an Issue: Bootstrap is suitable for applications where optimizing bundle size is not a priority. Its extensive library of components and styles facilitates rapid development without significant concern for file size.

  2. Minimal Customization Requirements: Projects that align closely with Bootstrap’s default design patterns benefit from its ease of implementation and consistent user interface. It’s ideal for developers seeking quick prototyping and maintaining a cohesive look and feel across their applications.

  3. Rapid Prototyping and MVPs: Bootstrap is particularly advantageous for rapid prototyping and building Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). Its ready-to-use components enable swift development, making it an excellent choice for projects with tight deadlines or evolving requirements.

Vanilla CSS: Vanilla CSS, the core styling language of the web, offers a versatile alternative to CSS frameworks like Bootstrap.


  1. Customization Flexibility: Unlike CSS frameworks with predefined styles, Vanilla CSS provides complete control over styling, allowing for unlimited customization to fit your specific design requirements. With Vanilla CSS, you have the freedom to create unique and tailored designs.

  2. Minimal Footprint: Vanilla CSS has a minimal footprint compared to CSS frameworks like Bootstrap, resulting in smaller file sizes and faster loading times for your web pages. By only including the styles you need, you can optimize performance and enhance the user experience, especially on slower internet connections.

  3. Scalability and Maintainability: While CSS frameworks can offer convenience for rapid prototyping, Vanilla CSS promotes a modular approach to styling, making it easier to scale and maintain your codebase as your project grows. With well-organized CSS files and a consistent naming convention, you can ensure readability and ease of maintenance over time.


  1. Increase in Development Time: Unlike Bootstrap, Vanilla CSS does not come with a pre-built library of components, requiring developers to create or source components from scratch. This can increase initial development time, especially for complex UI elements or interactions that are readily available in CSS frameworks.

  2. Steep Learning Curve for Beginners: Working directly with Vanilla CSS requires a solid understanding of CSS principles and best practices. For beginners, the lack of predefined styles and structure provided by CSS frameworks may pose a steeper learning curve, requiring additional time and effort to master.

When to Use Vanilla CSS:

  1. Complete Design Control: Vanilla CSS is ideal for projects that demand full design control and customization. If your project requires a unique visual identity or specific design elements that cannot be achieved with pre-built components, Vanilla CSS empowers you to craft a tailored solution from scratch.

  2. Performance Optimization: Projects prioritizing performance and efficiency can benefit from using Vanilla CSS to minimize file sizes and reduce unnecessary code bloat. By optimizing styles and only including what is needed, you can achieve faster load times and improved site performance, particularly on resource-constrained devices or networks.

  3. Learning and Skill Development: Developers looking to deepen their understanding of CSS and sharpen their styling skills may choose Vanilla CSS as a learning tool. By working directly with core CSS concepts and techniques, developers can gain valuable insights and proficiency that extend beyond the confines of a particular framework.


In conclusion, choosing between Tailwind, Bootstrap, and vanilla CSS depends on various factors such as project requirements, development preferences, and team expertise. Developers should carefully consider factors such as project scope, timeline, design requirements, and team expertise when selecting the most appropriate approach for CSS styling.

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