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 found favour in print layout. A Grid represents a framework of spaced bars that are parallel to or cross one other, a grinding.” Grids in interactive design can also help provide a consistent experience across multiple devices with different screen sizes.
Typically, a grid is an arrangement of horizontal and vertical lines that are utilized to subdivide a page vertically and evenly into margins, segment (columns), inter-column spaces, type lines and spaces between blocks of type & images. These subdivisions lay the basis of a modular & systematic methodology to the layout, especially for multipage records, making the configuration process faster along with ensuring visual consistency between related pages.
Essentially grids are of four types, namely:
In the digital world, the grid system acts similarly to the print layout in organizing the elements on the page. Additionally, it provides a guide for designers to create multiple layouts that support responsive themes for different screen sizes.
All layout grids can be designed in two ways: symmetric or asymmetric. Symmetric grids follow a center line. The vertical margins are equal to each other, as are the horizontal ones. Columns in a symmetric layout are also the same width. In an asymmetric layout, both margins and columns can be different from one another. It is important to always look for balance when using an asymmetric layout.
- Manuscript Grid
- Column Grid
- Modular Grid
- Hierarchical Grid
See the below given example of a practical use of grid system in layouting.
Now let us discuss these grid systems in details.
1. Manuscript Grid
Also known as a single column grid or a block grid, the manuscript grid is the easiest grid structure of all. It is predominantly an extensive rectangular area taking up a large portion of the space inside a format.
The essential structure is characterized by large text margins and blocks, which position the block inside the format. Its secondary structure characterizes the area and extents of folios, running headers, footnotes, and other auxiliary information.
Manuscript grids are useful for broad and continuous blocks of text. They’re utilized as a part of books and long essays and may give themselves well to blog post. They aren’t restricted to content however. Pictures can be utilized to fill the block.
In the above example, the website of Oli Studholme is a perfect example of a manuscript grid. Again, what we see is a large block of text surrounded by margins. They have placed the logo and a single link in the running header and the date of publication in the left margin.
2. Column Grid
Column grids are made up by setting multiple columns inside the format. Column grids are great when discontinuous data needs to be exhibited.
Columns can be dependent on one another, autonomous from one other, and traversed by designing elements. This prompts a lot of adaptability when arranging information on the page. The width of a column should rely upon some components internal to the design, probably the size of the text. A column should have the capacity to oblige a measure for reading and maintain a strategic distance from excessive hyphenation towards the end of lines. If a column is too narrow or wide, then it’s become difficult to read them.
At the point when the margins are more extensive than the gutters between columns the eye is guided inward & strain is eased. However if the margins are narrower than gutters, the eye is directed outward and give rise to a complex situation.
There are no hard core rules, but generally if the size of the gutter is taken to be x, then margin is usually set to be 2x. Moreover follow lines can be utilized in column grids to help set the subordinate structure or to take into consideration irregular.
Flowlines can be used in column grids to help set the subsidiary format or permitting unusual breaks in images and text .Hanglines and baselines can help create where diverse elements will be situated vertically within the columns.
Above example has used a 12-column grid, which will become clear if you look through its CSS file. On the home page we see one column used for the publication date, five more for the article title and excerpt, and then six more for the image on the right.
3. Modular Grid
Modular grids are similar to column grids with the expansion of even divisions marked by rows. The rows and columns and the gutters between each one form a matrix of cells or modules. Modular grids are great for hard projects that call for more control than a column grid can offer. Picture galleries and shopping carts are likely possibility for modular (particular) grids.
Modular grids give themselves to the design of tabular data, for example, graphs, structures, navigation, schedules, and of course tables of data. They can help institutionalize the space in tables and help coordinate tables with any encompassing images or text.
Modules can either be vertical or horizontal and the proportion of a module can be known in various ways such as average height and width of a paragraph, image size, ad unit size, so on.
The UX Magazine site is a clear example of a modular grid in action. If you look at the middle of the page the individual modules are clearly evident as they form an 8 × 7 matrix on the page. Each module is approximately 120px × 120px with 5px gutters between them. Notice how fields are formed to support content larger than any of the modules would individually allow. This makes the grid appear less regular and creates more interesting shapes and patterns within the design.
4. Hierarchical Grids
Hierarchical grids are commonly found on the web. They’re built more with respect to an instinctive position of elements, which still adjusts to the needs of the data. Customized parts are commonly used as a part of hierarchical grids instead of frequently repeated intervals. Column widths have a tendency to shift as do the location of flowlines.
Hierarchical grids are great when an undertaking requires an odd grid that doesn’t effectively fit one of the other grid networks and can be utilized to bind together different elements and form a superstructure for arranging them.
In the above example, elements on The Swish Life website are tightly aligned, but not with any grid attempted to overlay on top. Rows of information aren’t divided equally and across these variable rows, the column widths differ. The above suggests a hierarchical grid, more organic than built on a rigid structure.
Final Words on Grid Systems for Graphic Designers
The 4 grids above are the main types of grids you’ll encounter. Each has a different function as far as holding content and choosing the right grid to use should come down to the content for your specific project.
- Manuscript grids — are the simplest and they work well when presenting large continuous blocks of text or images.
- Column grids — work well when the information being presented is discontinuous and different types of information can be placed in different columns.
- Modular grids — work best for more complex problems where columns alone don’t offer enough flexibility. The introduce horizontal spaces between blocks of content.
- Hierarchical grids — can be used when none of the above grids will work to solve the problem. They tend to be created organically by first placing design elements on the page and then finding a rational structure for presenting those elements.
Hopefully everything above has helped you understand that grids come in different varieties and more importantly when you might choose one grid type over another. Each can be the appropriate choice for a website as each allows for variety within the grid. If you currently work with grids which type of grid you use most frequently?
We have created a very advanced presentation for you so you can read more about Grid Systems in Graphic Design on slideshare