Hacking Bootstrap for Better Looking Sites

Bootstrap has held a lot of fullstack devs hands when it comes to creating sites. A lot of us don’t know how to use Figma, are unsure of what good “design” is, and are not proficient with CSS properties.

But damn are we good at whipping up a database schema, building our controllers and models, slapping a bootstrap theme we found on Google on our views, and calling it a day.

The end result usually leaves a person satisfied with the efficiency they created their site but unsatisfied with the result.

“It looks ok but not like that awesome site from some amazing designer I saw recently” -- generic fullstack dev.

This article is a tutorial of actionable design tips to achieve satisfaction with the look of your bootstrap themed site.

Setup

I’m going to be starting with this free bootstrap theme. Now lets improve it!

Expand your colors

Update your color palette

Bootstrap comes with a whole color pallet you might not have known about. Take advantage of it to look different than the other cookie cutter bootstrap sites. Boostrap colors

To get access to these color, we just need to add them to our scss/_variables.scss bootstrap file.

$theme-colors: (
  "primary":    $teal-300,
  "secondary":  $secondary,
  "success":    $success,
  "info":       $info,
  "warning":    $warning,
  "danger":     $danger,
  "light":      $light,
  "dark":       $dark
) !default;

Or if your using an npm setup for Bootstrap, update your custom sass file that gets compiled.

@import "../node_modules/bootstrap/scss/functions";
@import "../node_modules/bootstrap/scss/variables";
$custom-colors: (
    primary: $teal-300,
);
$theme-colors: map-merge($theme-colors, $custom-colors);
@import "../node_modules/bootstrap/scss/bootstrap";

Now we can update that gross bootstrap primary blue to a nice soft teal for our get started button. We’ll also want to change the text from white to black by removing the text-white class on it. This is for readability on the lighter background color. Boostrap button color change

Add a color hint to the top of your hero section

We can add a small border to the top of the nav to bring some extra life to our page with the new teal primary color via border-primary. Boostrap border top page

Text

Change line heights for common elements

A subtle change a lot of people don’t know about is reducing your line heights the larger the text is. Let's override the default line heights for common html elements in our css file.

h1 {
    line-height: 1.1;
}

h2 {
    line-height: 1.125;
}

h3 {
    line-height: 1.25;
}

p {
    line-height: 1.5;
}

Boostrap reduce line height

Update Letter Spacing

Large headlines generally have to much letter spacing by default. Condense the letter spacing of your h1 and h2 tags by updating our css file like we did for line height.

h1 {
    line-height: 1.1;
    letter-spacing: -0.05em;
}

h2 {
    line-height: 1.125;
    letter-spacing: -0.025em;
}

Boostrap less letter spacing for headlines

Heavier headline supporting text

Now we can beef up the supporting text in the hero. The contrast between it and the H1 tag is to extreme. We'll remove the lead class and give it a fs-5 class. This comes with a thicker font-weight. Heavier headline supporting text

Summary

Where were at so far... Bootstrap hero updates I wanted to do this theme refactor in 1 blog post but it's just to much content. So i'm splitting it up into several articles.

Check back next week for article 2 or subscribe to my newsletter below to get alerted when it comes out. I'll be updating the feature section of the theme and will have some 🔥 tips for you.

I also highly recommend checking out Refactoring UI. It completely changed my perspective on design as a dev.

✌️

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