ordering disorder

[ SXSW Bios ] #odogrids

  • @khoi


Everyone’s using grids, and grid tools and frameworks are everywhere. But do you truly understand the ins and outs of this powerful design principle, and how it’s changing along with new media and platforms? Chances are most digital designers have only a cursory knowledge of the grid’s concepts and best practices, overlooking the tremendous value that truly smart grid usage brings. In this expansive sequel to his famous 2006 SXSWi talk “Grids Are Good,” designer and grid expert Khoi Vinh (NYTimes.com, Subtraction.com) will give a bracing tour of the many ideas packed into his new book “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design.” This solo talk will span the history of grids, take a brass-tacks tour of best practices, and look ahead at some of the most enlightening and innovative thinking that’s shaping grid thinking in the future.


The Grid

Human intention expressed as an (ordered) design.We’ve been doing this for a long time (mathematics, blueprints, fractals). The A International paper standard is based on starting with a big piece of paper and dividing it into smaller sizes that retain ratio. Bricks: the first grid that mattered? Shaped around the proportions of the human hand—anyone can shape / collaborate on a single design. Collaboration is based on there being tools that enable consistency amongst multiple perspectives. A grid is an ordering device to set up divisions between inside/outside.

Grid in Design

Design is a form of tyranny.

  • Add Order, Continuity and Harmony/Balance to information
  • Helps audience to understand information and predict where new information can/may be found
  • Help add/improve content that is consistent
  • Enable collaboration

Rule of thirds is about segmentation but even more about creating a focal point where the three places meet (or would meet). Designing without constraints is painting. Audiences want to look at a design and understand hierarchy, dominance, importance, relevance, relationship. And they don’t want to be conscious of that fact; it’s the meta information that occurs.

It’s unnecessary to place everything on the baseline grid. It’s just necessary that there be a baseline when you need it. Make exceptions with purpose when a deviation works better. Nudge away from grid edges when interactivity could occur against a design element (navigation).