Are you looking to create stronger, well-balanced layouts? If so, consider using the 8pt grid system in your designs. This tried-and-true spatial system can help you create delightful digital experiences that are both user-friendly and visually appealing. In this blog post, we’ll look at how to use the 8pt grid to improve your layouts and tips on getting the most out of this versatile method. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting in the design world, read on for some helpful advice!
The 8pt grid is a simple but effective way to create a consistent and well-organized layout. The principle is straightforward: you use multiples of eight (8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, etc.) for margins, padding, and dimensions on elements inside your design, which help create clean, cohesive looks that are easy to navigate.
The 8pt grid system keeps your spacing consistent, plus it ensures that your design is responsive on all screen sizes.
While using an 8pt grid may seem like a minor detail, it can significantly impact the long-term usability of your design. As the number of devices with different screen sizes and pixel densities continues to increase, using an even number to space and size elements in your design makes scaling for various devices much easier and more consistent. Plus, working with an 8pt grid saves time in the short term and helps prevent frustration down the line.
An example of an 8-point-grid spacing system for primary and secondary buttons.
The grids provide a framework for creating consistent, orderly, and easy-to-use layouts; they are essential for creating responsive designs, as they can help control the flow of content on different screen sizes. A point (pt), on the other hand, is a measurement of space that is dependent on screen resolution. In simpler words, one point is equal to one pixel on a standard resolution screen (1pt=1px @1x screen). However, when designing for screens with a higher resolution, such as Retina or Super Retina displays, more pixels are packed into the same amount of space. As a result, 1pt may be equal to multiple pixels on these types of screens. For example, if you design an image that is 100px x 100px at @1x, it will appear as 200px x 200px on a @2x screen, and 400px x 400px on a @3x screen. By understanding how points work, you can ensure that your designs look great no matter what type of device they render.
While there are many different ways to approach designing user interfaces, I’ve found that thinking in 8s is usually the most effective for me. First, I divide the screen into eight equal sections, which gives me an excellent foundation to work with and allows me to add or remove elements as needed, depending on the specific design. Occasionally, I use a 4pt grid when working with limited screen real estate, such as on mobile devices. But by thinking in 8s, I can create well-balanced and organized designs that are easy for users to navigate.
There are two approaches to grids, there is Soft Grid, and Hard Grid. I always opt for the ‘soft grid’ approach when creating user interfaces, as this involves measuring 8pt increments between individual elements in the design. This approach is more flexible than the ‘hard grid,’ which places elements into a grid pattern defined by 8pt increments. With the ‘soft grid’ approach, it is easier for developers to code up a design, as there is more flexibility in the placement of elements. Plus, the ‘soft grid’ approach allows for more creativity in designing UIs that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
When it comes to icons, I always place them on an 8pt grid to maintain consistency throughout my design. Icons that don’t follow this standard stick out like a sore thumb and disrupt the design flow. So, by adhering to the 8pt grid, I can be sure that icons will line up perfectly with other elements in the UI for a cohesive look.
Vertical Rhythm for 8pt grid system
In terms of type, using a 4pt baseline grid alongside the 8pt grid offers a harmonious vertical rhythm. By aligning the type to a baseline grid of 4, which uses a line-height value that is a multiple of four (4, 8, 12, 16, 20, etc.), you’ll get more control and obtain better results. Also, the 4pt baseline grid is easier to work with when setting type on a smaller scale. For example, if you are working with body copy that is 12pts, aligning it to a 4pt baseline grid will give you a line height of 16pts (4 x 4). However, if you were to scale up to a 16pt baseline grid, your line height would be 24pts (8 x 3), which may be too large for your design. In short, the 4pt baseline grid provides more flexibility and control when setting type on a small or large scale.
An example of vertical rhythm using a 4pt or 8pt grid system.
By using a consistent 8-pixel increment, we can all save time and maintain the quality of our work. Developers can quickly eyeball an 8pt increment instead of having to measure each time, designers can make fewer decisions and keep the rhythm between UI elements, and users will see a cohesive design that is faithful to the brand they trust. If you have any questions about implementing the 8pt Grid system or need help getting started, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be happy to help where I can and answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, happy designing!