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Keen to create consistent and engaging interface designs that are easy for users to navigate? Welcome to the world of grid layouts.

What is a grid layout?

An essential element of interface design, grid layouts are structures used to organise content into a series of rows and columns, which creates a sense of order and hierarchy. The grid layout helps designers create balanced and visually appealing work and for consumers, this approach is applied to make designs more intuitive and easier to find what they need, whether it be applied to an online or print layout.

Types of grid layouts

While there are many types of grid layouts used by graphic designers, we’re going to check out the five most commonly used.

#1. Responsive grid layout

Frequently used in web design, this layout adjusts the size and position of elements based on the size of the screen or device, ensuring content looks good on everything from a smartphone to a desktop.

#2. Column grid

Popular in print design with newspapers and magazines, the column grid enables a consistent and readable layout, with content being organised into, you guessed it, columns.

#3. Manuscript grid

Based on the proportions of a page, this grid is often used in book design to create a harmonious and balanced layout.

#4. Modular grid

Elements are organised into modules of equal size to create a structured and organised layout.

#5. Baseline grid

This grid aligns elements to horizontal lines and is generally used in typography to create a consistent vertical rhythm and improve readability of text.

What are the benefits of using layout grids in interaction design?

A powerful tool for all designers, but particularly those working on interface designs, layout grids offer a number of great advantages.

Creates clarity and consistency

A layout grid helps designers create a consistent visual language across their designs, making it easier for users to understand and interact with the interface. A consistent layout also ensures that the design is cohesive and looks professional.

Improves design comprehension

By providing a clear design structure, the grid makes it easier for users to understand the interface and how to navigate through it. This is particularly important for complex interfaces that require a lot of user input.

Supports responsiveness

Crucial in today’s mobile first approach, layout grids can support responsive design creation that adapts to different screens and devices.

Speeds up the design process

Clear structure can allow designers to create more efficiently and consistently, with professional results.

Easier modification and reuse

The grid structure enables swift changes to be made if necessary and for the reuse of elements across other interfaces. This can save time and effort for designers and clients.

Facilitates collaboration

Shared language and structure for design can support collaboration between both designers and developers, which in turn supports the creation of effective, user-friendly interfaces.

5 ways to use grid layouts to improve your UI designs

While there are many ways to use grid layouts to support user-centred interface designs, these are the top five to consider.

#1. Customise grids to meet your needs

It’s important to remember that not all grids will work for every project. Confirm your design needs, keeping in mind the type of content you’re working with, the size of the interface and the research you have on the needs of the user.

#2. Focus on flexibility

Ensure your grid layout choice adapts easily across all devices and screens your interface might be accessed on.

#3. Select the right layout tool or generator

With so many tools and generators available on the market, it’s important to choose one that works for your project and design needs. Double check the tool you select offers customisation options and has a user-friendly interface.

#4. Create visual hierarchy

Use your grid to align elements and create balance between positive and negative space, while ensuring there’s a sense of order and structure in your design.

#5. Establish consistency

Key in UI design, a consistent look and feel can be achieved across your entire interface with the help of grid layouts.

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