We use twitter bootstrap as it was recommended by a developer here last year. Everything done in bootstrap kind of has a similar look to it. I feel like I am a stronger back end developer. I have alot of basic understanding of HTML/CSS, but it seems there are specialists in front end development and people like that would never use something like bootstrap, nor would they need to. We don’t have a front end development team here and we are supposed to design everything. I kind of get some negative feedback on my front end skills, but I feel like on the other hand, I’m just using this bootstrap thing as a kind of crutch otherwise I would be sort of challenged to create anything that looked half way professional.
Front end guys, especially front-end ninjas mostly don’t use CSS framework such as bootstrap and foundation, because they don’t want any limitation on their UI/UX design, for example button element design on frameworks looks typical, although it can be easily customised. Css framework is not just for amateur, I find it very helpful to speed up development.
I do both front end and back end work, although I was definitely stronger at front end when I started. I don’t use CSS frameworks, but I do have a set of css files I usually start with as my foundation and I now use SCSS quite a bit. Frameworks are very functional and can produce very professional sites, but they carry a lot of overhead and limit design flexibility. Most Rails books seem to be written by back end developers and usually don’t give this much attention. I can recommend one book, The Rails View, which does a good job if you are interested in expanding your skills in this area.
Fascinating concept. Here you disparage use of a framework for the front end design, yet you're also on a list that is all about a framework for the backend. Which level of amateur is okay, which isn't? While many folks will tell you that starting out with frameworks is a bad way to learn something, that you should learn how things work, that just doesn't seem to be the case with Rails. And yet when it comes to designing and laying out a website, no frameworks must mean a better design?
Web design, like all other visual design, has a set of rules and conventions. Having a framework support them is useful, and it may also mean some people never go beyond that point, as their interests lie elsewhere. In using something such as bootstrap, you may indeed have something of a "Paint by Numbers" approach, but bootstrap is not actually that limiting.
Let me make an analogy. As a watercolorist, I don't set out to find minerals and what not, grind my own pigments, and mix my own paints. I also don't find sable and rabbit and make my own brushes from their fur. Nor do I make my own paper, stretch it, and so on. So you see, in that regard, I can take advantage of what the modern world provides and just get on with painting.
I think your use of "amateurish" is also interesting, in that you seem to disparage the term. The word amateur derives and means someone who loves what they do. I write software and design web sites both because I am good at it and get paid for it, and because I absolutely love doing it.
If you feel your front end design skills are lacking, delve into bootstrap and see what is going on there, under the hood. But also start to look at visual design as a discipline and read about why some things work well and other things don't.
Bootstrap provides an exceptionally clean, simple front for a web site. It is an excellent starting point, and has a fair bit of depth to it.
One final thing I'll say here is that there has been quite a lot of effort spent on individuation of web sites to no avail. The designs might be interesting, but unless the site itself is about visual design, there will be little to hold any one's attention if it's all style and no substance. *Every* person I've known who has anything to say about web design and development says the same thing: content is the most important aspect; if your design fully supports that, excellent. If your design gets in the way, people will simply leave. If your design is jarring, or looks like it came out of geocities or the old myspace, or even 1993 mosaic, then people will laugh as they point it out. Using bootstrap is a hella lot better than that.