Picture this: You’re working hard to learn a back-end language like Python, and you’re focusing on frameworks like Flask or Django. You want to showcase your website’s functionality, but you don’t have a lot of time to learn front-end web design along with the back-end skills you’re working on. Oh, and you also need this front-end to be mobile-first and responsive — a no-brainer in an age when more and more people are viewing your website on their mobile devices.
What to do?
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In this guide, we’ve put together ideas for how you can start to use Bootstrap for your web development projects.
What is Bootstrap?
Bootstrap works by using a 12-column grid system. There are 12 columns and a website element can take up all of them. For example, an entire paragraph could take up 12 columns, or you could have an image take up four columns and some text take up eight columns.
What are the Main Features of Bootstrap?
Bootstrap is mobile-first and uses responsive design principles. “Mobile-first” means that the CSS is written with mobile devices as the primary viewport size. More people are consuming content on their mobile devices, so it’s crucial that any website you build prioritizes mobile users, meaning that your front-end can be easily navigated using a mobile device.
“Responsive design” means that a website can adjust its formatting to accommodate the size of the viewport. “Viewport” refers to the size of the space a user is viewing the website on. Common viewports include desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices. If a user is viewing your website on a mobile phone, they’ll have a different experience than if they’re viewing it on a desktop.
“Mobile-first” means that this experience will be as high-quality as it would be on a desktop, not an afterthought. Bootstrap’s 12-column grid system allows elements on your web page to adjust and “stack” as needed when a user is viewing your website on a mobile device.
Bootstrap is a great skill to have as a web developer. It’s used to ensure that your front-end website is mobile-first, responsive, and has all the elements of a fully-functioning website.
If you want to be a web developer, knowing Bootstrap can be a great advantage. This is true whether your focus is front-end web design or back-end development. Bootstrap can save you time and ensure that your websites are responsive and mobile-first.
Why Should I Learn Bootstrap?
There are many reasons why you should learn Bootstrap.
Bootstrap ensures you have a responsive, mobile-first website. Enabling users to navigate through content on their phones is crucial in anything you build as they generally access websites on their phones more than desktops these days.
Bootstrap’s 12-column grid system stacks elements so users are not scrolling horizontally when they’re on their phones. “Responsive” refers to how a website responds to the size of the screen users are viewing it on.
Bootstrap is great for prototyping. You may be working on a large project and need to develop a minimally viable project quickly. With Bootstrap, you can develop a simple user interface without having to spend too much time working on design. Later, you can apply additional styles to your design, when you are ready to do so.
Bootstrap has a friendly community of developers. You can easily get involved with the Bootstrap community by joining Bootstrap-related discussions on sites such as StackOverflow. The Bootstrap team also has a blog and Twitter account.
Bootstrap is a valuable job skill. There are over 6,000 job results on LinkedIn that mention Bootstrap for roles in the United States. These job postings include titles such as “UI Developer”, “Web Designer – Bootstrap”, and “Front-end Developer”.
Bootstrap is also valuable to learn if your work includes web development and another aspect of business, such as marketing. For example, one job posting on LinkedIn is titled “Digital Marketing Web Developer”. The company that posted the vacancy is looking for someone with an understanding of marketing strategies like SEO and an ability to apply those principles to front-end development.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Bootstrap?
Bootstrap does not take a lot of time to learn. Depending on how much you are customizing the style sheets, Bootstrap can take you just a day or two to set up. Beyond the initial set-up, you can get proficient at using Bootstrap in about four weeks, assuming that you are working on your project two hours a day.
When you are setting up Bootstrap, you can either download all the source files inside your root folder or use the CDN (Content Delivery Network) method. The CDN method allows you to load files faster, because when a user accesses your website, all the Bootstrap files will be loaded from a server.
Bootstrap is customizable and you can override Bootstrap styling with your own CSS. Depending on your project, you may need to take more time to customize Bootstrap to fit your needs.
A word of caution here: If you’re trying to create a unique front-end, Bootstrap might not be the best option. Customizing Bootstrap to fit your vision of what a front-end should look is more tedious than hard-coding the CSS yourself. As with any technology, it’s important to identify your use case and ensure the use of the right tool for the job.
Is It Hard to Learn Bootstrap?
You don’t need to memorize the CSS classes in Bootstrap, but you must be able to navigate the Bootstrap documentation to figure out what classes you need.
How to Learn Bootstrap: Step-by-Step
There is no single way to learn Bootstrap. Some learners prefer to read the documentation on the Bootstrap website first, while others like to watch videos or do online courses before starting projects.
Learning a new technology requires understanding in some introductory concepts first before you start downloading files and configuring a framework. Beyond that, your learning journey may differ from that of other learners. However, know that there are common big-picture principles you can apply as you learn Bootstrap.
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Here are some general steps you should follow while learning Bootstrap:
- Decide why you want to learn Bootstrap. What’s your main motivation for learning Bootstrap? Do you want to just have it as a skill in case you need it? Do you want to build a back-end project? Are you working to become a front-end developer?
- Decide whether to download the Bootstrap files or use the CDN. Check out the Bootstrap website for specifics on how to access Bootstrap and decide which method works best for you.
- Build a sample project to get started. Check out the examples on the Bootstrap website to help you quickly get started with building your own components.
- Figure out how many customizations to make. Depending on your project, you may need just a few or many modifications.
- Keep learning. Keep watching tutorial videos, reading articles, and doing projects to keep your skills sharp.
- Share your skills with others. One of the best ways to cement learning is to teach someone else how to do something. Talk to someone else on your team who is also building a website or do a YouTube tutorial sharing what you’ve learned.
The Best Bootstrap Courses
There are many resources for learning Bootstrap, and it can be difficult to know which courses to invest in. Here are our top picks for the best Bootstrap courses.
Coursera: Portfolio Building for Beginners using Bootstrap
Cost: Coursera membership (varies)
This Guided Project offered by Coursera is a two-hour experience for those just starting out with Bootstrap. In this project, you’ll learn how to build a portfolio using Bootstrap. Elements of this portfolio include a navigation bar (also called a “navbar”), and “About Me” section, and an email form.
Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding Specialization
Cost: Coursera membership (varies)
Udemy: Bootstrap – Create 4 Real World Projects
In this course, you will learn Bootstrap by creating four projects. You’ll also learn about CSS Flexbox. Flexbox is a one-dimensional layout method that you can use for your formatting needs. Knowing Flexbox is important in case you want to use it along with Bootstrap components. This course includes 10 hours of video content plus other resources and a certificate of completion.
Codecademy: Learn Bootstrap
Cost: Codecademy Pro Membership ($19.99/month)
This course will take approximately three hours to complete. You’ll learn how Bootstrap makes it easy to create interactive and responsive websites. You should know basic HTML before doing this course, and some familiarity with CSS is helpful.
‘Bootstrap: Responsive Web Development’ by Jake Spurlock
This book will help you design top-notch interfaces and responsive websites with Bootstrap. You’ll learn about HTML elements for typography, tables, forms, buttons, and images. This book also teaches you principles of website navigation, breadcrumbs, and custom modal windows. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive book on responsive web development, it’s this one.
‘Practical Bootstrap: Learn to Develop Responsively with One of the Most Popular Frameworks’ by Panos Matsinopoulos
Online Bootstrap Resources
W3Schools.com Responsive Web Design Tutorial
W3Schools.com has a Responsive Web Design Tutorial with lessons covering topics such as viewports, media queries, and frameworks. Work through the exercises at your own pace and get a solid foundation in responsive web design.
Start Bootstrap: Bootstrap Resources – Templates and Themes
If you feel you’ve mastered the basics of Bootstrap, this is a great resource for you. This website provides curated lists of places where you can purchase Bootstrap themes.
Bootstrap is a CSS framework designed to help you build responsive, mobile-first websites. This framework can be very useful to you in your web development career. Bootstrap can help you build a website that you are proud to showcase on your portfolio.
Whatever your purposes are for learning Bootstrap, you’ll find that there are plenty of resources to help you in your quest. These include online courses, books, tutorials, and the Bootstrap community.
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