Ordering Disorder. Grid Principles for Web Design – Khoi Vinn

Khoi’s book is something I felt was needed a few years ago, so much so I contemplated trying to write something similar. Luckily for the world though Khoi actually did it and not just thought about it.

ordering disorder by khoi vinn on lightmediumbold.com

For anyone coming from a graphic design background and moving into digital design, applying all the typographic grid principles you studied to a medium that is so fluid was a bit trial and error. We had to get to grips with pages that changed size, not the easiest thing to set a grid to. Plus with the raft of new ‘web designers’ having little training or understanding of grid principles (or design in many cases) we saw some truly awful unstructured aesthetics.

There’s an argument there that some of those early design approaches were ‘ruderal’ in form, the first creative expressions to colonise a new medium, but most of it was the application of rubbish design sprinkled with a few technical parlor tricks.

Since then there has been a number of approaches such as the 960 Grid System to give designers a framework on which to design that can be translated well to code, but this hasn’t addressed why you might want to bother yourself creating a grid in the first place.

That’s where Khoi’s book kicks off, with a couple of chapters about the concept of grids and the process of grids. Obviously if you love grids you’ll know a lot of this, and if you want more, then start your searching here: www.thegridsystem.org

The book is then structured pretty much like an exercise book on how to use a grid system to architect a web design that has order and reason you can apply throughout the wealth of templates you may have to develop. It clearly shows how spending time up front setting out your grid system can make it easier for you to develop new sections, templates etc further down the line.

Khoi quite rightly doesn’t advocate his system to make the design of the web more ‘reductive’, nor does he delight over the ‘old’ analogue methods of design. He simply demonstrates how using structure to create order leads to a good experience.

His concise conclusion aptly points out that the developments in technology are re-shaping and evolving our interactions with media all the time.

I can’t help believing though that an understanding of harmonious grid patterns, proportions and geometry will always help any designer create a better, more approachable interface and aesthetic whatever the new forms of medium there is to work with. With that in mind, go read the book.

A quick note about Khoi. If you’re not familiar with him he was the former Design Director of NYTimes.com and changed the way design was practiced at the New York Times. He a clever cookie and you should keep an eye on his blog www.subtraction.com and maybe stalk him on Twitter @khoi. He also co-created the Basic Maths Wordpress template that lightmediumbold.com is built upon: basicmaths.subtraction.com

Title | Ordering Disorder. Grid Principles for Web Design.
Author | Khoi Vinn
Publisher | New Riders
Publish Date | 2011
ISBN | 978-0-321-70353-8

Reviewer | Steven Bennett-Day

Buy from Amazon UK: Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design: Grid Principles for Interaction Design (Voices That Matter)

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