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Bootstrap vs. CSS — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 7, 2024
Bootstrap is a framework built on CSS for responsive design; CSS is the language for styling HTML documents.
Bootstrap vs. CSS — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Bootstrap and CSS


Key Differences

Bootstrap is a comprehensive framework that simplifies web development by providing pre-designed components and layouts. It builds on the fundamental principles of CSS, enhancing its capabilities. Conversely, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a foundational language used in web development for styling the visual presentation of HTML documents. It defines the look and layout of web pages.
Bootstrap offers a vast array of pre-built components such as navigation bars, buttons, and forms, all styled and ready to use. It ensures consistency and saves time. CSS, on the other hand, requires manual styling from scratch, offering a blank canvas for custom designs.
Bootstrap is known for its responsive design features, enabling websites to adjust seamlessly to different screen sizes. This is achieved through a grid system and responsive utilities. CSS alone does not provide these features; it requires additional rules and media queries for responsiveness.
Using Bootstrap typically results in faster development times due to its pre-made components. It's ideal for projects with tight deadlines. CSS, while offering more creative control, can be more time-consuming as each element needs individual styling.
Bootstrap has a learning curve, especially for understanding its class-based system and components. In contrast, CSS is fundamental to web design, making it an essential skill for web developers. Mastery of CSS is crucial for effective use of Bootstrap.

Comparison Chart


A framework built on CSS.
A stylesheet language.


Offers pre-designed components.
Requires manual creation of components.


Easier but with potential design limitations.
Offers greater flexibility and customization.

Learning Curve

Higher due to its own class system and components.
Fundamental, essential for web development.


Built-in responsive design features.
Requires additional media queries for responsiveness.

Compare with Definitions


Bootstrap provides a framework for building responsive websites.
The website was quickly developed using the Bootstrap framework.


Adapts content to different devices.
Media queries in CSS made the site responsive.


It offers ready-to-use UI elements.
We used Bootstrap's navigation bar for our website's header.


Uses selectors and properties for styling.
CSS selectors targeted specific elements for styling.


Ensures websites adapt to various screen sizes.
Bootstrap made our site mobile-friendly.


CSS styles HTML content.
The layout was created using CSS.


Uses classes for styling elements.
Bootstrap's 'btn' class easily styles buttons.


It customizes the visual aspects of web pages.
We used CSS to change the font and colors.


Facilitates faster website development.
Using Bootstrap, we completed the project ahead of schedule.


Offers control over the layout.
The multi-column layout was achieved with CSS.


A loop of leather, cloth, or synthetic material that is sewn at the side or the top rear of a boot to help in pulling the boot on.


An instance of starting of a computer; a boot.


(Statistics) A method of estimating a population's characteristics (such as its mean) by repeatedly subsampling from a given initial sample, thereby avoiding the use of theoretical probability distributions.


To promote and develop by use of one's own initiative and work without reliance on outside help
"We've bootstrapped our way back with aggressive tourism and recruiting high tech industries" (John Corrigan).


(Statistics) To gather information about a population from a single sample, using repeated samples drawn with replacement.


(Computers) To boot (a computer).


Undertaken or accomplished with minimal outside help.


Being or relating to a process that is self-initiating or self-sustaining.


A loop (leather or other material) sewn at the side or top rear of a boot to help in pulling the boot on.


A means of advancing oneself or accomplishing something without aid.
He used his business experience as a bootstrap to win voters.


(computing) The process by which the operating system of a computer is loaded into its memory.


(computing) The process necessary to compile the tools that will be used to compile the rest of the system or program.


(statistics) Any method or instance of estimating properties of an estimator (such as its variance) by measuring those properties when sampling from an approximating distribution.


To help (oneself) without the aid of others.
Sam spent years bootstrapping himself through college.


(computing) To load the operating system into the memory of a computer. Usually shortened to boot.


(computing) To compile the tools that will be used to compile the rest of the system or program.
Bootstrapping means building the GNU C Library, GNU Compiler Collection and several other key system programs.[]


(statistics) To employ a bootstrap method.


To expand or advance an activity or a collection based solely on previous actions, work, findings, etc.


A strap that is looped and sewn to the top of a boot for pulling it on


Help oneself, often through improvised means

Common Curiosities

Can Bootstrap work without CSS?

No, Bootstrap is built upon CSS and requires it to function.

Is CSS necessary to learn before Bootstrap?

Yes, understanding CSS is crucial before diving into Bootstrap for effective use.

What is Bootstrap?

A framework built on CSS for designing responsive and visually appealing websites.

Does Bootstrap replace CSS?

No, it extends and simplifies CSS but doesn't replace it.

Do I have more design freedom with CSS?

Yes, CSS offers more flexibility for custom designs compared to Bootstrap's pre-designed components.

What makes Bootstrap responsive?

Bootstrap's grid system and responsive utilities make it adapt to different screen sizes.

What is CSS?

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a language used to style and layout HTML documents.

How does CSS achieve responsiveness?

Through the use of media queries and responsive design techniques.

Can I use CSS with Bootstrap?

Yes, custom CSS can be used alongside Bootstrap for further customization.

Is Bootstrap easier for beginners?

Bootstrap can be easier for rapid development but has its own learning curve.

Can I use Bootstrap for any website?

Yes, but it's more suited for projects where rapid development is needed.

Do I need to know HTML for Bootstrap or CSS?

Yes, a basic understanding of HTML is necessary for both.

Is CSS enough for web design?

Yes, CSS is fundamental and can be used alone for designing websites.

Can Bootstrap components be customized?

Yes, through additional CSS or Bootstrap's customization options.

Is CSS constantly evolving?

Yes, CSS standards and features continue to evolve over time.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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