Collection of Useful Open Source CSS Resources

There are loads of free scripts to download and include in your website projects. Developers are constantly releasing their work under open source General Public Licenses. This allows other developers to work off the same code and even customize pieces to better suit their project’s needs. Overall the majority of codes you’ll find these days are written in JavaScript or backend languages.

But I will say there are some newer CSS libraries and resources which are extremely beneficial to most frontend developers. In the article below I have put together a set of very handy tools, resources, and code libraries for web developers. All the codes are written in CSS-only and should not require any JavaScript to function. This is a nice mindset to build around your website since not all users will browse the internet with support for JavaScript.

1. Ivory Framework

ivory Open Source css framework website

IVORY is a frontend CSS framework for building responsive grids in web design. You can check out their live demo which showcases much of what can be accomplished. The codes are also completely free and open source for developers to play around with.

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2. WebInterface Lab CSS Snippets

webinterface Open Source lab snippets coding design

I found this resource just a few weeks ago and it has proven to be incredibly helpful. You can find loads of pre-built CSS2/CSS3 resources all for website interfaces. Many of these items include buttons, links, navigation bars, tooltips, and loads of other goodies! The site updates frequently so be sure and check back if you like the quality.

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3. Github-Style Sliding Links

Open Source css sliding links content hidden overflow technique

If you have ever seen longer hidden anchor links on Github you will notice how they slide out to display the full text. This effect may be accomplished very quickly on your own website, and it can also be done using only CSS codes. Check out the blog post by David Walsh which explains how to build this.

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4. Workless

workless creative open source css snippets webdev Open Source

Workless is a clean HTML5 and CSS3 framework for web developers. You may not enjoy having to start each project from the beginning – and coding all your header information can be a hassle. Aside from code snippets you may chose to startup with a framework such as Workless. It comes with lots of default styles for tables, links, icons, and even buttons for generic HTML markup.

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5. CSS3 Checkboxes

codepen open source checkboxes freebie css3

This unique Codepen demo page includes a lot of custom CSS3 checkbox styles. This is perfect for any web developers who have been looking to update their form checkbox designs with newer CSS techniques. I personally love many of the styles included, so be sure and check the source code for snippets to include in your own projects.

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6. CSS3 Pictogram Buttons

css3 button pictograms buttons freebie open source

This great tutorial explains how we can make unique buttons using CSS3 gradients and also include icons related to the class name. The brief demo page is a good indicator of what we can design. This is an excellent resource for just about anybody looking to spruce up button styles.

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7. One% CSS Grid

one percent css grids design layout interface

Here we have another free open source CSS grid framework for quickly scaling your own website layouts. The whole grid is fluid and based off a 12-column setup. I would highly recommend testing out their code samples to see if you can build fluid or fixed columns for your website layout.

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8. Sosa Icon Font

icons website sosa freebie fonts designs typography

This newer trend by CSS designers is to include unique font faces based on icon designs. Then using the CSS3 @font-face property we can easily generate custom icons instead of loading images. These could be useful within sidebar content, navigation links, or even inside your post content.

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9. Makisu 3D Menu Dropdown

open source github makisu website interface

You don’t often find 3-dimensional navigation menus based entirely in CSS code. But I like Makisu for its ease of use and quick installation. On their Github hosted webpage you’ll find a live demo which looks stunning. You may also dig into the source code and see how this effect can be generated through CSS properties.

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10. 320 and Up

css responsive framework 320 and up layout

320 is one of my first CSS frameworks which I ever attempted to play around with. They have support for plenty of mobile responsive content which includes dropped navigation menus and sidebar items. Also your image/audio/video media should automatically resize within any containers. Check out their homepage and give it a shot if you’ve got the time.

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11. 34 Responsive Grid System

34 grid system website responsive designs freebie opensource

I find the 34responsive grid system a little easier to manage if you know exactly how many columns are needed. You can quickly setup the margins/padding before downloading their prepackaged CSS library to fit into your layout perfectly. It’s a bit daunting for newcomers, but give this one a shot if you like to build layouts with a pixel-perfect finish.

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12. 1140 CSS Grid

1140 pixels grid system css layout website design

The 1140px CSS grid is another fantastic open source library you may consider testing. 1280px width monitors are commonplace and this is the best solution for modern-day layout designs. You may also consider limiting your websites to stretch a bit smaller – and there are always options to customize the exact specifications right from within the CSS.

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13. 520 Grid System

520 facebook grid systems css framework free open source code

Any frequent Facebook users or developers may recognize this CSS framework. 520 is based on the Facebook grid display for creating your own custom Facebook profiles. It is currently the most popular social networking website and provides an excellent resource for marketing and interactions with fans. This CSS grid system is just one method of testing out your layout before applying the changes live on the site.

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14. Centurion

centurion website code design interface open source css codes

Centurion is based on mobile responsive CSS media queries for the best transition between desktop and smartphone. Web developers who are not familiar with responsive techniques may find this CSS library a bit confusing to work with. However their grid system is phenomenal and supports almost any screen resolution.

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15. Profound Grid

profound grid css framework open source design

What I like so much about Profound Grid is how you can easily switch between fluid and fixed layouts. There are basic settings included within the library for coding your document’s width, number of columns, and the gutter margins. Also the website documentation is very easy to follow and the class/ID names make sense as you’re going back into the code.

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16. Pondasee

pondasee github tokokoo website interface designs

The Pondasee Github page includes all of the resources you’ll need for building a simple frontend CSS design kit. The whole library is built using SCSS and Compass which allows for processing of dynamic CSS data. The internal components include jQuery, Normalize, Modernizr, HTML5 Boilerplate, along with a handful of other tools.

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17. Normalize.css

normalize css document free open source codes

Speaking of Normalize I want to bridge this into the CSS resources list as well. Normalize is a modern library for developers looking to move away from the traditional CSS resets. Many of the typical browser elements such as forms and headers are pre-formatted with generic styles and mirrored for display in all browsers. This allows you to start designing from a blank slate and produce perfect results across the board.

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18. CSSDeck

css deck website theme inspiration gallery code snippets

There are plenty of online coding apps for web developers which allow for inline editing to save & share code snippets. CSSDeck is one such tool which also includes a featured gallery of small HTML/CSS/JS code snippets. Developers will create frontend interfaces and offer the codes for free in their gallery! You can find some very interesting samples on the front page, and it’s a fun showcase to browse when looking for inspiration.

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19. Bear CSS

bear css website interface design layout code

This is another free webapp resource which may not hold much value for everybody. However the purpose is to generate a blank CSS stylesheet which contains all the classes and IDs found inside a single HTML document. Simply upload a webpage written in HTML or XHTML and Bear CSS will return a new stylesheet preformatted with all the related element targets.

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20. CSS Transitions

codrops tutorial website background slides transitions css3

I am a big fan of Codrops and love many of their published works. One tutorial in particular focuses on CSS3 transitions fitted inside a website layout. It is possible now to create your own multi-paged website and transition between content using only CSS3 animations. Check out the live demo to get a taste of what I’m talking about.

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21. Animated CSS3 Web Banners

animated css3 web banners codrops coding website tutorial

This is quite possibly another favorite tutorial by Codrops which illustrates the brilliance of CSS3. You can build your own advertising banners with CSS3 animations that work in all standards-compliant browsers. This technique may be annoying in some websites – but if you can pull it off the customization could generally lead towards much higher CTR in the long-term.

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22. Polaroid Images

css3 polaroid images website graphics design inspiration

When discussing images I have to recommend this great tutorial on CSS3 image framing. Here you can build a custom CSS class which appends a white background and dark drop shadows behind any image element. This appears to look like an old-fashioned polaroid photograph, along with image captions and possible rotation as well. Take a peek at their demo page to see the full effect in action.

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23. Google+ UI Buttons

google plus website buttons freebie open source css3 code

Once Google+ initially launched there was a big difference in reviews of critics. However their general layout style has always been minimalist and brilliant in comparison with other social networks. Bruce Galpin has created a clone UI and released the open source codes on Github. This is a beautiful set of user interface elements for designers looking to create a simple aesthetic effect. The live demo page offers a full showcase of what is included in the design kit.

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24. Responsive Patterns

mobile smartphone responsive web design patterns

This Github resource is new to me and provides such a detailed level of non-official documentation for mobile web designers. These design patterns are all related to responsive website layouts and how you may want to manage a particular project. The patterns focus on topics such as responsive navigation, images, tables, forms, and other common web elements.

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25. SpritePad

spritepad website css sprites png image background

SpritePad is an online webapp resource for generating sprite sheets to be used in CSS. These sprites are often common interface objects such as navigation menus, sidebar links, icons, footer columns, etc. Generating custom sprites in Photoshop can be a hassle but this unique webapp interface works perfectly – and you can do it from any computer.

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26. CSS3 Button UI

freebie buttons css3 code snippets for web developers

The Geekeries CSS3 buttons class is a great starting point for designers looking for a quick solution in smaller web layouts. You do not always need to build heavily customized CSS buttons, and these glossy effects are just perfect for any typical webpage. I would recommend for any curious developer to check out their page and see these buttons in action.

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27. Prefixr

prefix css3 moz opera webkit automatic webapp tool resource

How many times have you been writing CSS3 codes and needed to go back filling in the various prefixes? Mozilla, Opera, Webkit, and possibly Microsoft IE all have their own proprietary prefixes for many CSS3 properties. The free webapp Prefixr allows you to copy over a snippet of CSS3 and it will automatically fill in all the appropriate prefixes as needed. Talk about a seriously helpful webapp!

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28. Animate.css

animation css library codes webdev development howto

I would consider Animate.css as an alternative to the popular jQueryUI library. This CSS-only document allows for quick and painless CSS3 animation effects which behave properly in all modern browsers. The homepage features many smaller demos which you can test out and see how these effects work.

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29. Print.css

print stylesheet website open source css library

There are some cases of websites where you simply do not care about printed media. However there will always be users who are interested in keeping a physical copy of your article or webpage. Adding the print.css library into your webpage will force a typical print-style effect over pages which are printed. This will strip many of the colors and distractions from the screen to clean up and offer a nice, simple webpage for white printer-paper quality.

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30. Zocial Buttons

zocial website buttons interface social media freebies css3

I have seen a lot of custom CSS icons in the past, but Zocial is definitely one of my favorites. The buttons are created over a SASS framework which is helpful when trying to churn out codes using multiple social media websites. The buttons also feature icons and custom color codes which match the same branding. Check out their website to learn a bit more about the library.

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Final Thoughts

I do hope this showcase of CSS resources may prove useful to at least a few developers. I can’t say that I have found a proper use for everything in this list, but I’ve toyed around with all of the resources and this list includes a few of my favorites. CSS2 and more recently CSS3 has dramatically changed the way designers make websites in a very positive light.

It is nice to see more developers jumping onto the open source bandwagon and supporting the freedom of web collaboration. As the W3C pushes out further specifications I am hoping the models around CSS will become more ubiquitous within all web browsers. Working to support all user environments can be a hassle – but it’s also the mark of a truly skilled web developer. If you have any questions or ideas on these CSS resources feel free to share with us in the post discussion area.

Author: (103 Posts)

Jake Rocheleau is a passionate web designer and social media entrepreneur. He is frequently researching the latest trends in digital design and new-age Internet ideas. He's also an advocate for the social media revolution - follow his updates on Twitter @jakerocheleau.

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