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Material Design vs Semantic UI: What are the differences?

Material Design: Google's Material Design. Material Design is a unified system that combines theory, resources, and tools for crafting digital experiences; Semantic UI: A UI Component library implemented using a set of specifications designed around natural language. Semantic empowers designers and developers by creating a shared vocabulary for UI.

Material Design and Semantic UI belong to "Front-End Frameworks" category of the tech stack.

"They really set a new bar in design" is the top reason why over 2 developers like Material Design, while over 134 developers mention "Easy to use and looks elegant" as the leading cause for choosing Semantic UI.

Semantic UI is an open source tool with 45.9K GitHub stars and 4.84K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Semantic UI's open source repository on GitHub.

Snapchat, Reviewable, and ThirdPartyTrust are some of the popular companies that use Semantic UI, whereas Material Design is used by Google, SkyQuest, and GEMServers. Semantic UI has a broader approval, being mentioned in 77 company stacks & 55 developers stacks; compared to Material Design, which is listed in 25 company stacks and 38 developer stacks.

Advice on Material Design and Semantic UI
Ashish Sharma
Sr. UI Associate at Daffodil Software · | 5 upvotes · 628.6K views

I am a bit confused when to choose Bootstrap vs Material Design or Tailwind CSS, and why? I mean, in which kind of projects we can work with bootstrap/Material/Tailwind CSS? If the design is made up on the grid, we prefer bootstrap, and if flat design, then material design. Similarly, when do we choose tailwind CSS?

Any suggestion would be appreciated?

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Replies (4)

I don't know about material design.

You would go with Bootstrap if you want to prototype / build something without bothering about the design at all and you are OK if everything looks kinda template-y, using bootstrap out of the box components.

Go with Tailwind if you need a sleek design, a user interface where building with components will be important (because tailwind strongly favors component-based UI), and you know you will need to extend the built-in classes with your own (because tailwind is very easy to extend)

I would personally recommend tailwind over bootstrap any day of the week.

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Hi Ashish,

If you need minimal work to be done from your end and like most of the components / design available out of the box - go with Bootstrap. This is the oldest and has the widest adoption and a whole range of components built out by others.

If you like Material design, this is a good choice too. Please note that Bootstrap also has a Material theme, though it is not as native.

Both of these above frameworks are bulky and has more than what you may need.

If you like to build micro-components in a elegant way, TailwindCSS is the way to go.

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Tailwind CSSTailwind CSS

Tailwind is great you don't have to mess with naming things and it is so much more flexible than the cookie cutter bootstrap, but I don't know about material UI. I recommend tailwind it's super simple to learn and has great code snippets.

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Tailwind CSSTailwind CSS

Put simply, you should use Tailwind regardless. It is a great addition to whatever you use because it removes the hassle of writing CSS.

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Decisions about Material Design and Semantic UI
Ryan Wans

Ant Design offers the most components with JS and CSS taken care of. They look clean, professional, and usable.

We paired this with Bulma for making the containers and structure reactive. Bulma (for react) make it easy to just add a section, container, and content and have it work on all platforms.

We also use Geist UI, though not recognized by Stack share, for its simple and modern feel. Highly recommend Geist if you want modern components for complicated UI's

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Pros of Material Design
Pros of Semantic UI
  • 4
    An intuitive design
  • 4
    They really set a new bar in design
  • 2
    Simply, And Beautiful
  • 2
    Many great libraries
  • 0
  • 157
    Easy to use and looks elegant
  • 92
    Variety of components
  • 64
  • 61
    Has out-of-the-box widgets i would actually use
  • 57
    Semantic, duh
  • 44
    Its the future
  • 42
    Open source
  • 37
    Very active development
  • 31
    Far less complicated structure
  • 28
  • 9
    Already has more features than bootstrap
  • 8
    Just compare it to Bootstrap and you'll be hooked
  • 7
    UI components
  • 7
    Clean and consistent markup model
  • 6
  • 4
  • 4
    Because it is semantic :-D
  • 4
    Elegant. clean. readable. maintainable
  • 2
    Great docs
  • 2
  • 2
    Is big and look really great, nothing like this
  • 2
    Modular and scalable
  • 1
  • 1
    Easy to use
  • 1
    Blends with reactjs

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Cons of Material Design
Cons of Semantic UI
  • 2
    Sometimes, it can hang the browser
  • 5
    Outdated build tool (gulp 3))
  • 3
    Poor accessibility support
  • 3
    HTML is not semantic (see list component)
  • 2
    Javascript is tied to jquery

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What companies use Material Design?
What companies use Semantic UI?
See which teams inside your own company are using Material Design or Semantic UI.
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What tools integrate with Semantic UI?

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What are some alternatives to Material Design and Semantic UI?
Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web.
Material Design Lite
Material Design Lite (MDL) lets you add a Material Design look and feel to your static content websites. It doesn't rely on any JavaScript frameworks or libraries. Optimized for cross-device use, gracefully degrades in older browsers, and offers an experience that is accessible from the get-go.
Flat UI
Flat UI is a beautiful theme for Bootstrap. We have redesigned many of its components to look flat in every pixel.
Ant Design
An enterprise-class UI design language and React-based implementation. Graceful UI components out of the box, base on React Component. A npm + webpack + babel + dora + dva development framework.
Express your creativity with Material, an animation and graphics framework for Google's Material Design and Apple's Flat UI in Swift.
See all alternatives