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Twitter Bootstrap17 December 2012

Twitter Bootstrap takes some flack. Some horrible flack, which I’m certainly guilty of dishing out in the past.

But this, after much thought and a recent plethora of negative activity and animosity in the web community, I realised that it’s not Twitter Bootstrap that’s the problem; it’s developers and designers not willing to go that extra mile.

24 Ways recently published this article. I’ve never read a more half assed title - “How to Make Your Site Look Half-Decent in Half an Hour”. Come on. “Half-decent”. Is this what you want to output? To be known for? I can’t understand why, if you have an ounce of pride, you’d not want everything you release to be the best you could do?

Twitter Bootstrap was made by @mdo and @fat for internal use at Twitter and released it because they thought it’d be useful for rapid prototyping of web elements or UI components (correct me if I’m wrong). Twitter Bootstrap can be likened to the default drop shadow setting in Photoshop. It’s not that people hate their existence, it’s that people see it in use and immediately think “you haven’t tried”. Developers will hide behind the fact that they can’t design. Well, you could have made the greatest plugin, web application or library in the world but the moment you slap Twitter Bootstrap on your site for it, all initial value is lost and people just see a “cookie cutter website”. If you’ve made a great product and you can’t design, find a designer, there is a deluge of designers out there looking for a collaboration. There’s no excuse. I had the same conflict when I made SVGeezy. I had written a plugin and was a little disenchanted that it wouldn’t have a sweet landing page to accompany it. Luckily, the delightful Jack Smith had a free evening and said he’d put together a landing page, he went off muttering something about a “kanye west hover effect on the title”. So my fairly simple plugin had a great landing page and I felt proud sending the link around. I wonder if I’d have felt the same had I have just whacked Twitter Bootstrap on it?

My underlying thought on this is, people will always make tools to make people’s life easier. Use them wisely. Don’t be “just another Twitter Bootstrap site” and don’t strive to make your site “half-decent looking”.

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