What is a Grid System? How does it simplify the Web Development process?

A series of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines constitute a grid system. Usually these grid systems consist of either 12 or 16 invisible columns that are equally-sized to have a consistent appearance. A pre-defined structure to arrange the web elements, well how cool it sounds, but on the whole it makes web development job an easier one for you.

Grid systems provide a solid-base for the web development, which can enhance the overall performance factors of a website.

Design with the Grid: Benefits of a Grid System

One of the best ways to explain the grid scenario is to compare a web designer with an artist, who is using a canvas with series of intersecting lines to create his masterstroke.

In this section, we are going to learn about why we should start with a right note, which is the grid system.

  • Layout Consistency-
    • A solid layout for your webpage, surely users can easily navigate through your website even if it has hundred pages. Also, organizing the information or content will be effortless as the pre-defined space allows an easy placement.
  • Efficiency-
    • We all know that a website is the outlook of an organization, so, as a designer you have to make sure that the website uplifts the professional appearance without any setback. A grid system allows placing of web elements in a more précised and relevant manner
    • A quicker and better job, well, you will tell that to yourself when you use a grid system to design a website.
  • Stability-
    • With a grid system, the web designers only have to fill in the web elements rather than getting concerned about the base design. With scaling requirements, a web designer can easily change the position of elements without any trouble.
  • Compatibility-
    • Whether it is a static website or a dynamic one, grid system is here for you. To make this account more clear, web designers today can easily have either fixed or fluid-based grid layouts based on their requirements.

Anatomy of a Grid System

Till now we learnt about how a grid system can be of benefit during the web development. And in this section we are going to check on various components of a grid system.

  • Unit-
    • A unit is the building block of a grid system, and a grid system consists of multiple units. Suppose you are using a 16-unit grid, then that system has 16 units.
  • Gutter-
    • The ‘units’ which were explained earlier are separated from each other through a narrow spacing, which is known as Gutters (Note: Units are placed at regular intervals). These gutters help to reduce the meaty appearance of a webpage, thus giving a clean and simple sight.
  • Column-
    • The word column has been emphasized from the beginning of this blog. So a column on the whole is the combination of units and gutters. These columns act as a well-defined space for the content that is to be placed and can be used in group to suit accordingly.
  • Field-
  • You have placed your content in the columns, and now the webpage comes with horizontal divisions, which are known as fields. One of the drawbacks of this component is consistency. Suppose two different fields of a webpage do not have a similar height, then the content needs a rearrangement to get the same.

Usually, the grid systems with maximum column numbers are most preferred as they provide a good deal of liberty over the deigning aspect. To give a clear explanation on this account, let me go with a twelve unit grid which is the most popular choice among the designer community.

An Insight: Twelve Unit Grid for Web Development

Why twelve unit grid? Does the number frighten you? But, if you are an experienced web designer then you will be the happiest person. Three, four and six column blocks, yes, this is how a twelve unit grid can be divided, giving you enough liberty to play with the website’s appearance.

With a greater flexibility, the layouts can be easily structured either in a symmetrical or asymmetrical manner.

Final Thoughts

The grid systems are not limited to only the column arrangement, as we have manuscript, modular and hierarchical patterns as well. Each of these grid systems are to be chosen as per the web development requirements to get the best possible results.