More Grid Love

by Zack on August 8, 2009

More Grid Love

I recently had a review of Get The Eye with Justin Evans from Stress Limit Design. Justin was, as always, amazingly helpful. One of his big pieces of feedback was that I wasn’t following my own advice of keeping things simple and easy to use. This site started as a place for me to play with different design ideas and layouts. I never thought I’d write more than nine articles. Over time it became so messy that navigating from one page to another felt like changing channels from CNN to PBS to HBO. Nothing really matched.

Around the same time that Justin reviewed my work I finished reading Grid Systems by Kimberly Elam. The two of them convinced me to create a standard grid and go back over my previous articles to make sure everything was super tight to the new grid.

Check out the grid:

I finished the first part of this redesign work yesterday. It was a long and fiddly process. There is just no easy answer for aligning to a grid in HTML. HTML is dynamic and doesn’t give you anywhere near the control over your layout as a tool like Adobe InDesign. I spent a lot of time with Gridfox making minor tweaks so everything lines up.

So was it worth it? It makes the site feel neater which makes it feel unified. Each page feels like it belongs. The grid made it possible to add the new navigation bar and make it easier for you to find your way around. Grids generally make it easier to navigate because they let you build up a familiarity. You get used to where things are so you don’t have to spend as much time looking for them. The grid alignment also makes the site tighter and more professional. But that doesn’t answer the real question.

Another way of asking was it worth it is asking, will most people notice? The answer is probably no and yes. I don’t think anyone will install Gridfox and check each of my pages, but they will notice that the site feels better to use. These types of improvement are very difficult to quantify, but they are the difference between a site that feels good and one that doesn’t.

This new grid also gives me a better way to move forward. The confines of the grid are more freeing. I can spend more time being creative and less time worrying that things aren’t lining up.

Learning to really love the grid might be the next big step for me as a designer. I hope it makes the site better. More big changes are coming.

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