When I was a site developer at Sapient (for a short time), I worked with a graphic designer who designed a music site based on the grid, which heavily influenced me. I began looking at magazines, catalogs, and sites like wallpaper* and one. I'm reading a book on grids at the moment, and today I found a list of links on graphic design grids on that I'm surfing.

Grids, I am learning, can do a lot to help save time and money by providing a modular framework for design. The grid allows one to set up a system for laying out content in a predictable way, and apparently when done in certain ways can mirror proportions found in nature (e.g. Le Corbusier's Modulor, an application of the Golden Section).

For the past couple of years I've kept trying to base a lot of the design aspects of my work on grids, setting up templating systems that use content modules to drop blocks/elements of the UI or of actual content into the page. I'm sure many IA's must work with the same concept. I'm really interested in hearing how people arrive at systems of UI design. Although in most agencies/consultancies, the design is supposed to rest in the hands of the designer not the IA, when we wireframe, we're making decisions about content placement (text and graphics) that can have a lot of implications for the designer. Do you base layout on a design concept arrived at before you wireframe? Do you wireframe and throw it over the wall to the designer to manipulate as she pleases? Just curious.*

*The selfish objective of this blog (for me anyway) is to learn something.

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If you haven't already, you might want to check out Grid systems in graphic design, by Joseph Muller Brockman. This is bible on grids, I use it religiously. It's expensive but worth it. (It was introduced to me by the lovely people at the late marchFirst)

To answer your question...

I generally work together with designers to work out the grid before I start wireframes. That way they can start experimenting with designs and I can build on something that they can use. However, it may be just me.

Yes. I've had J. Muller Broc

Yes. I've had J. Muller Brockman's book on my Amazon wish list for a while.

Thanks for sharing the insight about how you work, JF.


Grids are wonderful

I have used grids in my work for years. In Design school I was trained to use them and rely on them for everything, including my design for the web. When I was in grad school I discovered the golden mean and the power of balance and proportion that using it brings to a layout. You should look at Robert Bringhurst's book - The Elements of Typographic Style. Lots of good information about use of grids and the golden proportion.