Grids are often thought of as something that traditional artists use to help them paint with precision. We designers have a tool that echoes this which we call the grid system. By understanding and utilizing the grid system, we can create work that is not only precise but also aesthetically pleasing.
How to achieve a grid system?
One of the easiest ways to achieve an organized design is to apply a grid system. It’s a tried and tested technique that first gained popularity in print layout. Low-tech and affordable, this is a great resource for you as a designer – consider it a top-ten tool in your office. Grids in interactive design can also help provide a consistent experience across multiple devices with different screen sizes. Users are happy when they see familiar features laid out as they would expect them to be.
The grid system in web design helps to align page elements in a consistent way. This column-based structure is ideal for placing text, images, and functions. Every element has its place within the grid, which makes it easy to see and reproduce elsewhere.
For example, think of maps. Islands, towns, and lakes all appear on an exact part of the map, based on North-South/East-West coordinates. They always appear in the same place on other maps. Now imagine if there were no grid system for this – it would be chaotic!
The grid system helps to keep us on track by providing a consistent framework for web page design.
The grid system was first used to help people better arrange their handwriting on paper. Eventually, it made its way into the publishing industry in order to help organize the layout of printed pages. It makes sense that we use a similar system for web and app design given that the virtual page has much in common with the printed page. Even so, creating a grid system for the virtual page can be more complex than for the physical page – this is because browsers process information differently, and screens come in various sizes. Fortunately, the principle behind it all remains the same.
Grid system as a design principle
The grid system is a design principle that has been around for centuries, and it is still used today because it is known to produce the best results. The golden ratio is used in conjunction with the grid system to create printed page layouts with margins based on fixed ratios. This tradition is kept alive by publishers, editors, and designers because it is what the users expect to see. Everything needs to be in its proper place so that the human eye can easily find what it is looking for.
How effective grid can be?
You can see how effective grids are by doing a simple experiment. Get two blank sheets of paper and draw a few shapes at random on one of them. Then, try to copy the shapes onto the second sheet of paper. Even if you have a good eye and steady hand, you’ll notice that it’s very difficult to replicate the first design exactly. This is because grids provide a structure that helps us organize information and create layouts that are easy to understand and use.
The second part of this experiment is optional, but it will help to drive home the point. If you have squared or graph paper lying around, take two pages and repeat the procedure. Do you notice how copying your original is so much easier when you can guide your hand? The grid made by the intersecting lines of this special paper gives us the gift of making truly accurate copies. By training our eyes on the number of columns across and rows down, we can duplicate in our free hand almost as perfectly as a photocopier.
How grid system helps designers or artists?
The grid system is a tried-and-true method for artists of all types, including writers. First used by a 13th-century artist who blended it with the golden ratio, the grid system has been empowering writers to position their handwriting neatly on paper for centuries. Later, it became a universal standard in the publishing industry. Publishing houses all over the world maintain strict adherence to the grid system in order to produce copy that is both pleasing to the eye and in line with users’ expectations.