I think the real issue is the 'lean startup' obsession with shipping a minimum viable product. Bootstrap enables developers to reach MVP stage really fast, then get customers using the product. I suspect most of the startups you call out recognise their sites look generic, but they have more important things to do before they focus on design. You've called out AppFeed as an "offender", for example, but AppFeed seems to be a one-man operation run by a single developer with no web design experience, working in slivers of his free time. I suspect he's unhappy with the site design, but his priorities lie elsewhere... and, honestly, I think that's okay.
Yep, Bootstrap looks generic, and if you have the time and money, you get a designer on board. But I don't think anybody should be called out for using a theme or template if they can't reasonably afford anything better. Many of these Bootstrap users will "upgrade" to a custom design at a later date, anyway.
Agreed. And I prefer to see hundreds of MVPs with Twitter Bootstrap than having completely awful and crazy hard to use websites in teams that don't have any designer or a coder who can choose colors. And I also agree that Boostrap is completely overused, and as has been said, it's a good starting point, but definitely something that should be that, a starting point for something more. For all I care even Designer News could be Twitter Bootstrap, but with a good design and a couple of styles.
Agreed. There are plenty of small products solving actual real world problems, that were only able to be built by developer not having to focus on frontend work.
I'm not saying you need a designer, or even to spend a lot of money. There are plenty of free and very inexpensive options out there that will at least take you a step beyond 'default Bootstrap'. A prototype—as I mentioned—would be an appropriate use case, but beyond that, a little effort would be good.
The reality is that, for non-designers, even picking out something as "simple" as a colour scheme can be intimidating, time-consuming and extremely difficult. It's actually a waste of their time, because their expertise lies elsewhere. I've seen developers I've worked spend hours trying to match colours, and they found it incredibly frustrating, because they wanted to work on the stuff they enjoyed.
I can understand what you're saying, but what you consider "a little effort" is only "a little effort" because you're already design professional... you've acquired your skills over a period of many years. To a non-professional, design is intimidating. If you really believe that it's easy and cheap to use a couple of tools to whack together a great-looking website with a custom style that fits the brand, you're undervaluing your own skillset.
Agreed - either stop or put in the effort to style it.
It should be a starting point, not a plug and play website.
I strongly agree with this. Most people seem to ignore their site after they have a product and are getting money. Doesn't make any sense.
I think it makes sense (putting myself in their shoes) what is the most important thing that is going to push the needle forward? Do more of that. I think there is a tipping point in a companies life where they can move far beyond bootstrap.
Bootstrap technically forces companies to be more focused, which is a good thing in my book.
That's a great point. YCombinator ask their startups to focus on doing whatever it is that will increase revenue over the coming week. If visual tweaks and customisation are unlikely to have the biggest impact that week, focus on something else.
Man, I've been preaching this for months and none of my articles ever picked up. Ah well...
But because this annoyed me so much and because I wanted nice-looking components that were customizable, I made this: http://roots.cx/css - this is been a great solution for me. I get nice looking defaults that are quickly and easily customizable and don't dirty the html with junk classes.
Oh man, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.
Bootstraps power lies in its ability to be manipulated. Yes, it's very heavy for a framework, but then again, you are granted the freedom to cherry pick the components you want, and throw out everything else!
Are you also against using a standard grid? This article is way off target.
I've never had a problem with it. I think there are plenty of people who see the value in custom design. If you don't , I am not going to tell you how to run your business. Also, Bootrap is designed to get you started and actually perfectly easy to customize. I don't see a problem with it. Its like saying Stop using Wordpress...Plenty of people do, some don't. Its a just another tool that devs and designers can use. Its free and its well-done.
The problem here is that before Bootstrap, the only way for a non-designer to get something decent was to hire a designer. Now thanks to Bootstrap there's a whole new middle-ground of gets-the-job-done design that doesn't suck but is also very, very generic.
I still think on the whole we're better off than before because in most cases Bootstrap replaces things that were even uglier.
It's just a little disappointing sometimes when you see a company that clearly has the means to develop its own identity and design settle for generic Bootstrap.
AKA please waste 2 months of your life designing a custom solution that wont even work. Come on, man, stop telling what other should do, there is room for everybody here. If you hate Bootstrap, that's fine, I hate it too. But not for that I will be telling others that they should not use it.
I'm still not over the ugliness of the non-bootstrap stuff. Yes, it can get repetitive, but it's still much better than lots of those developers making their own crap out there.
Agreed. Still useful though for newbies and people who can't be bothered.
I'm getting tired of this kind of frameworks, that do everything, there is one now for iphone, you just buy it, make some stuff and bang, iphone app done, lame-o ... doesn't matter if you are make money, it's lame-o :P it's cheating. And cheating is lame-o. It's ok to be lame-o when you are starting out, It's ok to stink a bit, but after it, it's bad specially if you are using a pre made css. At least hire a designer to make your css. And don't act like you are the king of the world, you are lame and people wont take you seriously, period.
Do you really think, 100+ years from now we will be doing this archaic thing called "coding"
I bet front-page had the same thoughts when it was built some years ago... We still code today, for the same reasons that we will still code years from now.
Once upon a time, people thought it was impossible to create a high-level language that abstracted away the details of assembly language across platforms… and yet now we write in languages that are interpreted by languages that are compiled into other languages to run on a CPU.
Don't be so quick to dismiss things, or the future will pass you by :)
I'm not that kind of guy ;) and I have no idea what will happen 100+ yrs from now, what I know now is that different solutions need different coding and you can't generalize everything now, just because you have a framework on the web that lets you be lazy about your work. That is a trend. Framework on top of framework on top of framework, for a simple site? c'mon... It's like using windows programs just to look like you are working on something really complex and you have to do all this and this and that just to produce some lines of text... It looks cool and it will make you look busy I know, but that was long time ago. And no one is mad about a simple guy that want to test something out to see if it makes money or not, people are mad because thats becoming an excuse to make everything now, and companies are paying attention to it and then they will want to make everything work on that shit, yes people are that lazy.
It doesn't matter if I make money? If I use one of these frameworks to make an app that pulls in five figures every month, and you write one from scratch that doesn't make any money… would you really rather be in your position?
The bar is lowering for creating half-decent layouts without much design experience. That's a good thing! As designers, we shouldn't be complaining—we should be figuring out how to push the envelope even further.
I honestly can't tell if you're being sarcastic. Frameworks are great. If designers and coders didn't make use of frameworks, we'd spend 99.9% of our time reinventing the wheel for every project.
You "cheat" when you steal somebody else's IP and attempt to pass it off as your own. You're not "cheating" if you build upon open source work... particularly if, in doing so, you can more efficiently solve a problem that needed solving.
This prescriptive whimper might stop a few people from using or in your perspective, abusing twitter bootstrap, but nothing towards the scale that you're looking for.
I'm assuming, "you", in this post refers to competent and capable designers. People who may be an ah ha moment away from understanding that their design could have been conceived without bootstrap. I'd also say that differentiating your design in a sea of bootstrap sites, without a nicely packaged framework, seems to be your goal you want the reader to achieve. Show them how to do that. Make it your life long mission if you are so passionate about this issue.
Most people don't know the difference between a Corolla and a Civic, and it's the same thing with two Bootstrapped sites. While I agree that, as a designer, seeing Bootstrap over and over again does grow tiresome, most people won't be able to tell, and even moreso, they just won't give a damn. Le sigh.
It should be interesting to see how the comments on this article on Hacker News compare to the ones here…