Why Are Grid Systems a Graphic Designer’s Best Friend?

Why Are Grid Systems a Graphic Designer’s Best Friend?

If there’s one skill you need in your arsenal as a graphic designer then it’s the ability to structure content. And you can’t go far wrong by using the traditional grid system to deliver professional results again and again.

Many self-taught graphic designers, though, haven’t always been schooled in the technical use of grid systems. Hence, particularly online, you’re likely to find highly innovative designs, but badly structured and, yes, it causes me to roll my eyes almost daily!

Therefore, to keep your designs looking professional you really need to embrace the concept of grid systems. Now, you may not be totally familiar with them, so I’m going to take you through the basics and get you a bit more acquainted with them.

The Beauty of Grids

By using a series of grids (or even a single grid) you’ll find that you can easily establish an effective foundation for your projects to be built upon.

This allows you to develop designs where you can get a real perspective on how all the various graphics and texts are going to interact. This imbues you with the power to create finished products which hang together perfectly and snatch the viewer’s attention in an instant.

Imagine an architect diligently pouring over some blueprints to understand the balance and use of space needed to realise their dreams; this is exactly how a graphic designer should pore over grid systems!

Constructing a Grid

We’re all familiar with the basics of what a grid is, I mean, they pop up in our daily lives from street layouts, maps, graphs etc. However, the use of grid systems in graphic design requires brushing up on a whole new set of rules.

Of course, everything starts with a blank page and this medium can be canvas, paper, web page or even aluminium if it takes your fancy! The next step is to invest in some margins to create a central focal point for your design. Finally, to get yourself a basic, but nifty grid you can use lines to divide this focal point into a number of rows and columns.

And it’s within these modules of space that the magic can begin!

Let’s Get Grids in Proportion

What I love about grids the most is that they deliver a real sense of proportion to help graphic designers achieve a high aesthetic quality even in the draft stage.

You see, you can’t underestimate the subconscious effect that proportion has on readers. Objects in proportion will flow seamlessly into the reader’s mind, but bad proportions jar the reader’s attention like a pile of plates crashing to the floor.

Grids are also incredibly versatile as they’re just as effective on paper as they are online. With the current popularity of scrolling websites, though, bear in mind that grids become slightly more tricky to employ.

Online Grids

We’ve established that graphic designers should feel free to use grid systems online to create amazing designs, but what’s the best way forward?

Well you can’t go far wrong with the trusty 960 grid system.

The 960 grid system is based on a width of 960px which can be divided into a multitude of equal columns to offer a flexible basis for your designs. It also just happens to be the standard screen size for responsive websites.

And responsive websites are those little critters which proportion themselves automatically whether you’re viewing them on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, so they’re an essential medium to be working in.

I’m pretty certain that if you haven’t been using grids in your designs so far, you now realise just how important they are for giving you an extra insight into how your designs work. Try introducing grids into some of your current designs to discover how they can make your life much easier!



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