Top 20 Best Free CSS3 Frameworks for Web Development

by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at — software documentation tool

CSS3 frameworks are the equivalent of semi-made recipe kits — the ingredients are all there along with instructions; you’d just have to cook up something exotic.

Some of the CSS3 frameworks aim to provide a common, accepted, and standardized structure to developers looking to build websites.

The following free CSS3 frameworks will help you save time, obviate the need to rebuild basic web foundations from scratch, and hence save oodles of time.

Material Framework

Material Framework is a simple responsive CSS framework in Light and Dark modifications made by Tim Nguyen that allows you to integrate Material Design in any web page or web app.


Leaf is a very flexible and minimal material design framework that’s being worked on by Kim Korte; a young developer from Sweden. Leaf utilizes the CSS library approach and offers a variety of ways to integrate material design elements within your web design concepts and website pages. Browse the Components tab from within the navigation menu to learn more about Leaf’s capabilities.


While it’s clear that material design is growing in popularity, Materialize is one of those frameworks that has surpassed everything else in terms of admiration, competition, and general functionality. Materialize has got more than 15,000 stars on GitHub, making it the hottest CSS based material framework on the web.


The last material design framework on our list today is going to be Essence; a lightweight CSS framework that uses the style guide from the official Material Design Spec and integrates it with the ever-poular ReactJS library.

Tap into the potential of Essence to quickly build fast, good looking and reliable web and mobile app user interfaces. Essence’s styles and components are fueled with easy to use syntax that will get you going with your next design within a few short learning lessons.


Bootstrap 3 (the current version, since Bootstrap 4 is also coming soon) is the world’s most popular and sought after front-end development framework for building and rapid prototyping websites, web design concepts, and mobile web designs.

The CSS aspects of Bootstrap can be used to build grid systems, forms, buttons, to manage images, to utilize helpers, to work with responsive design, and many more sub-category possibilities that are required in modern web design.

Semantic UI

Semantic has grown in immense popularity in the last couple of years. It’s biggest attraction seems to be its variety of elements that can be built using Semantic — common Elements like dividers, buttons, loaders and more, but also Collections like forms and breadcrumbs, Views items like feeds and comment boxes, and sophisticated Modules ranging from popups, to dropdowns and sticky boxes.

Semantic has something to offer to all level web designers, and it’s so easy to use within your already existing styles that you will be wondering why hadn’t you started using this framework earlier.


Foundation is one of the leading front-end frameworks on the planet right now. This ultra responsive frameworks provides rapid design solutions for those wishing to build websites, email templates, and web/mobile applications without having to invest all life’s savings into hiring professional developers. Foundation is easy to learn, and with the help of its extensive tutorials section there’s nothing stopping anyone from becoming a Foundation master over the course of a couple of weeks.


Cascade offers semantic and non-semantic grid layouts, base templates, table designs, navigation elements, typography and lots, lots more. The universal approach allows designers/developers to create high-performance web pages for both old and new web browsers without having to worry about browser compatibility or other peculiarities.

Many have found Cascade so useful because of its modular approach to using specific features within your projects. Cascade allows you to choose only the most important components necessary for your projects. It’s much like Bootstrap, just with a lot more control over the way your designs flow.


Baseguide is a minimal and lightweight CSS3 framework that’s built on top of SASS. It puts together the essential components of a web design into a tiny, yet solid library. All components are fully responsive and can be scaled to your own project requirements. Control your forms only with native CSS.


Siimple is a concise, flexible, beautiful, certainly minimal, front-end CSS framework that serves as the foundation for building FLAT and clean design web pages. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a good website. The actual framework is built only with 250ish lines of code, and can be zipped down to 6KB in total size; very useful for those who perhaps are just starting out with web design and need a framework base upon which to experiment freely.

Responsive Cat

Responsive Cat is a CSS micro framework that utilizes Stylus as the foundation for building syntax. Fully responsive and compatible with all modern devices and browsers. The English version of the site is being reworked.


Sculpt is also one of those lightweight frameworks, giving priority to mobile and responsive designs, Sculpt has been built specifically to serve mobile devices with the appropriate device screen sizes, while enabling customization through Media Queries.

Clean and semantic code are Sculpt’s aspirations, and when it comes to typography — Sculpt developers understand how important it can be to provide an experience that’s loud and clear; Sculpt’s included stylesheet is based on a 25 pixel typographic baseline. All headings, paragraphs and lists are designed around this baseline and so everything lines up nicely.

Concise CSS

Concise CSS’s a lightweight front-end design framework that gives its users access to a great deal of development features, without the extra fat. Concise is built based on Object-Oriented CSS principles and keeps semantics in mind to provide a small learning curve, and a high level of customization. The framework provides a simple development environment where there is no need for extra styles to be added, giving you more space to build, rather than to observe. A library of addons is available that can be used as additional components for your projects. Written using SASS — the leading world’s pre-processor.


Dive deep within Blueprint — a CSS3 framework specifically designed to help you eliminate the extensive hours of development time necessary to build beautiful and responsive websites. It begins with an easy to use and customize grid platform to serve as the foundation for your web designs.

An in-built library of typography features will ensure all your fonts and font sizes are always in-alignment with the rest of your design. There’s a sleeve of scripts that can be used to custom-customize your designs, and no need to worry about design inflation — everything’s aimed at simplicity.


UIkit’s a module front-end design framework for helping designers built quick and rapid web interfaces that feel and bend well. UIkit’s library of components provides a very modern approach to displaying and using popular components like navigation items, common items like forms, and a huge variety of JavaScript-based components like sliders, lightboxes, search and upload features, amongst many others. UIkit offers over 30+ modular and extendible components, which can be combined with each other. Components are divided into different compartments according to their purpose and functionality.

Modest Grid

Sometimes all we really need is a reliable, responsive and modern grid template to get our project going, and this is what Modest Grid excels at — providing its users a very concise grid templating system that will work well on modern devices, and provide a great foundation to begin plugging away elements and components from other frameworks, some of which may not offer a grid layout system in the first place. The framework is under active development, so expect to see improvements as CSS itself progresses.


Schema uses a module based approach to provide a flexible front-end development experience that’s meant to help designers and developers to build sophisticated user interfaces from the very beginning of the project.

To better understand how Schema uses the latest CSS3 features to help developers build complex web pages — go straight to the documentation and read through the very easy to digest docs that will leave a better imprint of Schema’s possibilities.

Metro UI

Metro style web design has definitely attracted a number of supporters over the last couple of years. Metro UI focuses solely on the Windows Metro-Style configuration that will let you build fast-paced front-end projects using beautiful metro style features. Metro UI uses the specification of Microsoft’s own metro style to build components like grids, styles, layouts, and more. It comes packed with more than twenty components, over three hundred useful icons to choose from, and is built on top of LESS pre-processor.

Responsive Grid System

Responsive Grid System is the last grid-based framework in our list. With this one you can easily grid responsive website templates that can be styled right away. To make the process that much more easy for you, you can also use the in-built Grid Generator feature on the website itself to create grids on the fly. There’s also a library of pre-built templates for several different occasions. Brought to you by Graham Miller.


YAML has managed to stick around for over a decade now, and still functions as one of the most prominent CSS frameworks for front-end developers across the globe. YAML (Yet Another Multicolumn Layout) is a modular CSS framework for truly flexible, accessible and responsive websites. YAML is focussed on device independent screen design and provides bulletproof modules for flexible layouts. This is a perfect starting point and the key to truly responsive design.

Have a nice day!

Bradley Nice,
Content Manager at — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors