Break out of the 12 column rut

Posted on by Nathan

Cramming text and images into the same-old 12-Column Grid System™ hurts your content. We shouldn’t be abstracting our layout options into one-size-fits-all downloads, but should instead be designing grid systems that are custom-tailored to our content.

Designing bespoke grid systems provides you with distinct advantages:

  • Greater layout clarity - Generalized grid systems are designed for the most flexibility across any site, which is why they tend to have more columns than are necessary. A simpler, custom grid means less possibilities for variation, leading to clearer hierarchies for your content.
  • Less cognitive load when designing - Too many options can lead to over-thinking layouts, burning precious time. The idea behind a grid system – or any design program – is to minimize these thought processes, keeping your mind free to find more creative opportunities for expression.
  • Defining stronger compositions - By using asymmetrical, uneven columns based in the proportions of your content, you can create much more dynamic layouts that fit the needs of your imagery, text, or whatever your content demands.
  • Responsive design made simpler - Less options also means less to adjust as your viewport sizes change. Simpler grid systems translate easier to smaller sizes, allowing your content hierarchy and compositions to scale more fluidly.

Introducing Gridset Sketch Guides

To help you break out from behind those 12 even-spaced bars, we have produced a new series of sketch guides. You will find our Sketch Guides packaged with Collection One of the shiny new printed Pocket Guides from Five Simple Steps, which we are very proud to sponsor.

Inspired by design history, these guides will help you explore using asymmetric, ratio-based, and compound grids – as well as other techniques – to design better grid systems for your content from the moment marker hits paper.

Once your sketches have been decided, you will find these same grids available in the Gridset app, ready to be used in your prototypes or production-ready site. But don’t stop your thinking there, Gridset makes it easy to further tweak and adapt your grids into just the shape you need.

Think before you download

So the next time you reach for the download button on yet another design framework, stop and think: “Could my content be better served by a custom grid system?” Chances are, the answer is yes, and Gridset is here to help.