Many people think about Web design layouts in terms of columns. They ask for instructions on how to create a 3 column layout or a 2 column Layout, and so on. But there is more to good layout design than just how many columns there are. In fact, you should be thinking about design in terms of a grid of columns and rows. But before you start feeling confined and rigid in your designs let's look a little more closely at grids and how they can benefit you.

Many Designs Use Grids

Interior designers design rooms with grids. City planners design metropolitan areas on grids. And print designers design print layouts on grids. If you use a grid to design your Web page layout, you'll create designs that look right and feel comfortable to most people.

Grid Designs Don't Have to Equal Boring

The problem is, most beginning designers feel that designing on a grid is boring. And it definitely can be. This is especially true if you use the grid as a mandate to fill in every square of the grid with something. The point of a grid is not as a way to fill up space, but to help you organize the space you have.

The trick to using grids in your layout is two-fold:

  • Create the grid, with as many sub-divisions as you need, and then stick with it. Don't add random lines after you've created your grid. The benefit to a grid is the uniformity of it.
  • Place your elements on the grid lines, and make sure they fit the width and height of your grid lines. The most effective designs use the grid in balanced but not 100% symmetrical layouts.

Once you understand how to set up your pages using a grid system, then you can start moving away from the rigid grids to create more elegant websites that work even if you can't see the grid at first glance.