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UI Grid Best Practices

May 20, 2021 - Reading time: 6 minutes

Make better designs with layout grid tips & tricks.

Space and grid make the foundation of any design. Once mastered and used correctly, the grid helps you to create solid and visually appealing solutions for your designs.

Therefore, I would like to share my tips for mastering the grid in UI design. In this episode, we talk about layout grids. Let's start ✌️

What is a Grid?

The grid helps establish the foundation of any interface. You can think of it as a framework for your layout. The framework helps to organize your UI elements, guide the reader and identify individual parts of your design.

Terminology

The grid consists of grid units. The layout is placed upon the grid and has a certain amount of columns. Columns have margins on the left and right, as well as paddings between each column.

UI Grid Best Practices — Terminology

Tip 1—Choose numbers wisely

While the 12-column Bootstrap like-grid is the most popular choice, it's not mandatory. When choosing a grid, select the one with a number of columns your design truly needs, no less, no more.

Choose layout numbers wisely

Tip 2—Know your constraints

Always consider the screen you are designing for. Know how it is handled and operated by others. Use these limitations to your advantage and learn to design with them.

Know your constraints

Most common screen resolutions (px)

  • Desktop: 1440x1024
  • Tablet: 768x1024
  • Mobile: 320x640

Tip 3— Horizontal and vertical spacing

Consider both vertical and horizontal spacing to make your layout more appealing and consistent.

Horizontal and vertical spacing

Tip 4—Shape vertical rhythm

Use the baseline grid to arrange the content and bring visual consistency to your text and layout elements.

Shape vertical rhythm

Bonus tip—Adjust font line height to match the baseline grid.

For example: If you choose 4px as a baseline/grid unit, to align text, you will need to set the line height of the font to a multiple of the unit, which means the line height should be 4, 12, 32, 64, etc.

Tip 5—Use power of the frame & color

Use framing as a tool to focus your user's attention on a certain layout part. Add additional visual weight in the place where it is needed.

Use power of the frame & color

Tip 6—Step out of the grid

Put certain elements off the grid. Use this breakdown trick to add value and make certain parts of your design stand out.

Step out of the grid

Tip 7—Adapt your grid

Ensure your layout is adaptable to common screen sizes, breakpoints and provides a good mobile user experience. Make sure to always check your designs on different screens.

Adapt your grid

Tip 8—Learn to design without a grid

Designing without the grid is okay for a small project indeed, but for scaling projects, it's mandatory.

Learn to design with a grid and without actually bringing it to your canvas. Observe your layout without the "grid glasses" from time to time to find the most creative solutions for your tasks.

Useful resources

Resources

Plugins