I assume this dislike for bootstrap comes from those who believe it wants to compete as the de facto UI for anything of large scale or designed for instant sex appeal. Anything on that level will have their CSS highly customized and optimized by their specialized UI staff. I can also assure you, CSS and choice of UI framework is the absolute least of your priorities over business development, marketing, revenue generation, and security holes. Get the product out the door, and see if people actually want it before you worry about them inspecting your page source and find that you've used bootstrap.
Unless, of course, people find the design of your MVP so utterly boring that they dislike the product entirely. I don't believe that design can be treated as an optional feature, that it's something you can add on later.
Take a look at the computer you are reading this on. Mac, PC, Linux, other? Every single program on your machine has a uniform UI. Sure, there might be tweaks here and there and differences in icons, but the UI is consistent. You get on any Mac and things look and work the same way. You get on any PC (save Windows 8!) and everything looks and works the same way.
Has anyone ever said: I am not going to use <insert very useful software tool here> because the UI looks exactly the same as the UI on <insert another common software tool here>? Probably not.
Well, why is it that every site on the 'net has to look and work differently? If form follows function then most sites don't really need to reinvent the wheel. Yes, they need to deal with app-specific paradigms, but that's no different than the difference between, say, Excel, Word, Photoshop, iTunes and Dreamweaver.
Somehow on the desktop we have come to understand that a stable, uniform and well-understood UI is actually useful. While I am not sure that this translates directly into the web, I don't really agree with the idea that lots of sites using Bootstrap is equivalent to the end of the universe as we know it.
Considering how many downright awful sites there are this is probably an absolute gift from the Flying Spaghetti Monster (who's name shall never be uttered in vane).
Minesweeper, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Word 2010
6 Applications by a single vendor. 6 UIs that are similar (WIMP paradigm et al) but different (UI looks) - just like any 6 websites are similar (links, some forms, 2 or 3 pane layouts, ...) but different (design details).
This is really starting to be like php vs. ruby vs. dot net discussions. The end result is it doesn't matter as long as you're comfortable starting and finishing a project with it.
The value Bootstrap brings is to save time. Also, no one really should care what developers think of this as the teams race towards finishing their MVP. Your job is to finish the MVP - that's it!
IF YOUR PAYING CUSTOMERS are bitching at you for making yet another Bootstrap site, then let's come back and debate this. You guys are all focusing on the wrong problem.
This debate around Bootstrap seems really similar to enterprise web developers who used to use Java and C# complaining about Rails and Django a few years ago.
I really don't see the issue.
I feel the same way with a Bootstrap site that isn't customized at all - I would hesitate doing business with them, because if you don't have the resources to put a day on at least _customizing_ your design, are you really trustworthy? Of course you can be, and it's not a completely rational feeling, but I would be surprised if I am the only one with that gut reaction.
For minor tools (such as http://dochub.io) and other small projects, Twitter Bootstrap is awesome and doesn't even need much customization, but I don't think it's a good idea to use it uncustomized for a business.
It's hard not to wonder whether the fact that you're the kind of person who posts on HN doesn't bias your response to sites like this.
One way to get some real data on this would be to ask your friends to ask their nontechnical friends and relatives for a list of sites they actually paid money at, and then take a hard look at how good their designs really are.
On the other hand you can find plenty of services/sites that looks graphically really professional and legit and that are instead plain scam (think about fake ecommerce sites)
Simple conclusion: take advantage of the technical solutions Bootstrap provides and ffs put some work to make it look at least a bit original and branded.
Different- for- different's- sake is a curse on web developers; it costs more time, more momentum, and more initiative than any other issue I can think of. Get the value working and proven first, then, when people are paying for it, start thinking of how much you'd budget to make your application visually distinctive.
There are exceptions, but they tend to prove the rule.
Today. The more people use raw TB the faster that 80% approaches zero and you'll get to my conclusion.
You will probably not pull off the next Foursquare or Pinterest using Twitter Bootstrap. But: you're not going to pull off the next Foursquare or Pinterest anyways.
So think of it this way: this debate has the question backwards. If you're doing a startup for which a major risk of your version 1 is that you built it with Bootstrap, you probably picked a bad startup idea.
I run a little marketplace for Bootstrap themes called WrapBootstrap - http://wrapbootstrap.com/ - I just sold the 100th theme today so more people are taking customization seriously within the Bootstrap community than before.
You can also check out Bootswatch - http://bootswatch.com/ - He provides free color themes that you can use to skin Bootstrap with.
People should definitely be using Bootstrap for its technical merit and not for its default styles.
If you're serious about adopting Bootstrap, you should consider switching to LESS.
The less-rails-boostrap gem makes it easy if you're working on a Rails app. It integrates seamlessy with Rails' asset pipeline, and has a generator for Rails scaffold CSS.
Out of curiosity, (and assuming you use the sass-twitter-boostrap gem in your projects) do you use any other Sass libraries besides Bootstrap port?
I've also wondered this.
Also, all of the less is converted to SASS.
Here's the gem if anyone is interested: https://github.com/yabawock/bootstrap-sass-rails
That is so not true. What is easy is to use the basic theme to build out a prototype of your app. Customizing will always be harder, but then again, it's been hard to build out a well-designed site since the very beginning.
To say that it's hard because it comes with a default theme is to not understand.
If it makes it easier for people to communicate faster, than I'm all for it.
I am sorry, I am not a designer and not a native English speaker, this makes it a bit harder to formulate this correctly.
Then why would you even be talking about Bootstrap, let alone criticizing it from a design point of view?
You can take any past, present or future "original" concept and build it with Bootstrap. You do understand that, right? You are not limited to the default theme. If you're lazy, lack talent or interest then yes, your website will look pretty much the same as those of your peers, but then you can only blame yourself, not a CSS framework.