I can’t think of a better topic to begin this blog than with the grid. If you’re a graphic designer, you know what I’m talking about – that frame of lines and shapes that provides a skeleton for our creations. Grids are the foundation of design, and just like the foundation of a building, the grid provides a solid base upon which you can build anything you can imagine.

Now before you design students who are suffering from grid nausea click away, know that I’ve been in your shoes. I remember sitting in the studio saying “he want’s us to come back tomorrow with how many grids?!”. Trust me, from experience, those thousands of grids that were made went miles into making me a better/faster designer.

I still use the grid religiously after nearly 10 years as a professional designer. The process has transformed from a very conscious effort to something automatic, like a reflex, or for you non-designers, using comic sans for your emails. There are many benefits to beginning the design process with the grid. Here are my top 5 reasons for using the grid (for those of you who like acronyms, it’s OSCEF, whatever that means):

1. It Organizes

grid sample from Making and Breaking the Grid

Obvious, I know, but using a grid goes a long way in helping you create a visual hierarchy – prominent vs. supporting design elements.

2. It Saves Time

Sure, designing a grid takes time, but in the long run it’ll take you less time to complete your design. Think of it as it’s your road map! Also, think about all of those grids you’ve made that were never used. As long as you keep all of those old grids in a convenient place, they’re easy to pull out for any new project, which saves time creating a new one.

3. It Ensures Consistency


We all have the same skeletal structure, yet all of us look different. We’ll the same can be applied to a grid. You can take the same grid and give it to 10 designers and get 10 different design solutions. Whether your working on a catalog or a system of symbols, the grid will make sure your design is cohesive

4. It Evolves

In the battle of print vs. web, one ally you can always have on your side is the good ol’ grid. Recent updates to web languages (HTML and CSS), only make it easier to implement a grid system for your web design project – such as the 960 Grid System.

5. It’s Flexible 


Bend it or break it. Your grid is just a set of guidelines. There are occasions where you’ll start breaking the boundaries or even change the grid entirely.

Keep in mind – grids are never set in stone. It’s important to know when to deviate from the plan or to not even use one. (Yes there are other ways to structure and organize content.) Sometimes the content is it’s own grid, dictating the position and relationship between elements that the grid won’t provide. That’s what makes being a designer so much fun. There never is one way.

So for those design students out there, I encourage you to stick with it and show up to class with the 100 grids your professor wanted – you’ll be glad you did. As for any professional designers who have wandered away from using the grid, dust it off and give it a shot on your next design.