Bootstrap has proven enormously popular among web app developers, and with good reason. For anyone just getting started, here’s what you need to know about the essential components and the role they play in designing web apps.
Every web app needs buttons in some form. Transitioning to a world full of touchscreen devices required many app developers to rethink their approach to user interaction.
But whether we are interacting with our devices via keyboard and mouse or by using our fingers on a touchscreen, we are almost always using buttons to do so. There is no component more fundamental to any app than the button.
Bootstrap offers its users a buffet or different buttons and makes it easy to customise them without the need for much CSS.
The buttons are also universal – their behaviors and appearance will be the same across devices with automatic scaling for different displays.
Bootstrap’s button classes are easy to understand, but if you want to add custom icon fonts for your buttons, then you need to first embed them into your project.
It also doesn’t have icon fonts as part of its core package, so you will have to add your own.
The easiest way of designing buttons in Bootstrap is by using an online button generator. These generators let you design your buttons with a GUI and then export the necessary CSS code to copy and paste into Bootstrap.
One of the most important aspects of app design is user navigation. For web apps built using Bootstrap, the navigation bar, or navbar, is the main navigation component.
A well-designed navbar will make it easy for a user to breeze between the different parts of your web app. The Bootstrap navbar can be configured to extend or collapse according to the display it is being shown on.
Navigation is much harder to get right than many people realise. The impact that poor navigation has on the user experience can’t be overstated; it has completely ruined apps in the past.
If you want to be certain of creating an optimal user experience through the design of your website, then you should hire a professional web designer. Look for businesses like WSI Digital Web Design that have prior experience using Bootstrap and know how to get the most out of features like the navbar.
There are three primary components to the Bootstrap navbar – the container, the header, and the collapse.
In order to reliably create effective navbars for your web apps, you need to understand what these components are and the role they each serve in the overall design. Bootstrap also provides a suite of navbar utilities.
- Container: The container is, as the name suggests, the component that wraps around all the other components of your navbar. The navbar is contained within this component.
- Header: The header is the component that wraps both your brand and the navbar toggle button. The brand doesn’t have to be your brand logo or name, but this is what it will be in the majority of cases.
The toggle button is used to toggle between the navbars expanded and collapsed modes, enabling the user to reveal more options and hide the navbar away as they wish.
- Collapse: The navbar collapse is the component that wraps everything except the navbar header. The collapse also contains the navbar menu and any buttons or forms that are contained within the navbar.
The navbar utilities are a range of premade classes included with Bootstrap. These utilities can be used to control the alignment and position of both the navbar itself and the components within it.
Forms And Input Groups
For most apps, the majority of user input will be in the form of button presses. However, there are also plenty of circumstances where you will want to ask the user to input information manually to respond to a question you give them.
Whatever the reason is, if you want the user to be able to type and submit responses, then you need to give them a form or input field to use. Input groups also include things like checkboxes, which are commonly used to solicit a response from a user.
Bootstrap makes it easy for you to add new input groups as you need them. The best way of approaching your use of forms and other input methods will depend on what you are trying to achieve.
For example, if you want to give your users the ability to leave reviews of products on your website, then you will need to create several elements. As well as the main input field for their review, you may well also ask users to select a star or number rating from a list of available options.
If you want to restrict this feature to registered users, then you will also need to give them a way of logging in without leaving the page they’re on.
As with buttons, you can code your own input elements directly in Bootstrap, or you can use an online drag & drop tool to build your own forms.
If your web app is going to be relying heavily on user text input, radio buttons, checkboxes, or file uploading, a drag & drop interface can save a lot of time.
Alerts are an important but often overlooked tool. For Bootstrap web apps, they should be considered a core component, as every app should include them.
Alerts enable you to provide your users with contextual feedback. This could mean letting them know that a new message is in their inbox or informing them that they are trying to access a feature that they don’t have access to, alerts.
Alerts will prevent dead ends in your web app, and will also enable you to direct the user to some extent.
For example, if a user submits a form that is supposed to consist of only numbers but includes other characters, an alert lets them know there is an issue. Without an alert, it can look to the user as if nothing is happening at all.
Bootstrap makes designing web apps easier, but it doesn’t do all the work for you. If you want to produce effective web apps with Bootstrap, you need to get to grips with these components.