Bootstrap Themes vs. Templates - What’s the Difference?

April 2, 2020 by David Miller

At Start Bootstrap, two of our main product categories are Bootstrap themes and Bootstrap templates. So, what’s the difference?

In short, Bootstrap themes are fully designed products that use custom CSS to create a uniquely styled end product. With themes, we’ve made most, if not all, of the design decisions upfront, so the product is ready to modify with your own content and publish.

Bootstrap templates are scaffolds, blueprints, or base layouts that offer no custom styling past what is already included with the base Bootstrap framework. With templates, minimal custom CSS is used mainly for layout purposes, and there are few styling or design decisions made.

Bootstrap Themes - The Pros and Cons

Freelancer - an example of one of our most popular Bootstrap themes


Bootstrap themes are pre-styled, which means you don’t have to worry about making many design decisions. At Start Bootstrap, we try to design our themes in a way that is attractive, modern, and most importantly, easy for users to interact with.

When you use a theme, all you need to do is update the content of the theme (the text, images, etc.) and then it’s ready to publish. We try to make extending our themes as easy as possible by using technologies like SCSS, and adhering to Bootstrap’s approach to extending their framework.


Since themes are already fully designed, it can be a bit of a challenge to make changes - especially if you’re working with raw CSS.

We make this easier with Start Bootstrap’s themes by including the SCSS source files that we use to generate the CSS. For example, changing colors on a theme using the SCSS source files is as easy as editing a single line of code, rather than combing through a massive CSS file and changing every instance (and slight variation) of the same color. We will be writing a guide on how to use a theme’s source files in the near future!

Another potential downside to using themes is that you’re a bit railroaded design-wise. It can be difficult to make a theme feel unique, unless you do quite a bit of customization.

Bootstrap Templates - The Pros and Cons

Business Frontpage - an example of one of our more popular Bootstrap templates


A template offers a blank slate when starting a new project. If you have a very specific design in mind you’re building something for a client with existing brand standards, a template can be a great starting point since none of the design decisions have been made yet.

In addition to offering a clean slate design-wise, Bootstrap templates also tend to be much simpler when it comes to their markup, which makes Bootstrap templates an ideal starting point for people who are looking to begin learning about the Bootstrap framework in a hands-on way.


Making design decisions can be tough, which can make using a template more difficult in the design process. A major criticism of Bootstrap as a framework is that, without a significant amount of customization, projects built with Bootstrap tend to all look alike.

You can get past this by building an understanding of how to use and edit Bootstrap’s SCSS variables. This allows you to extend the framework by overriding certain variables, like the primary color or the main body font, without the headache of going through a huge CSS file line by line.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully now you have a general idea of the difference between a Bootstrap theme and a Bootstrap template, and the advantages (and disadvantages) that come with each. Keep in mind that this is how we at Start Bootstrap categorize and differentiate between the two terms, but as you look for Bootstrap themes and templates throughout the internet you will find that the term 'theme' and 'template' are often interchangeable. At the end of the day, it really comes down to what you are searching for, and here at Start Bootstrap, we try to serve audiences looking for both types of products. Until next time, thanks for visiting Start Bootstrap, and thanks for reading!

Browse Bootstrap Themes → Browse Bootstrap Templates →

David Miller

David Miller

David Miller is the creator and founder of Start Bootstrap. He is a front end web designer working out of Orlando, Florida.