Why Use a Grid to Design Your Website?

Web design layout is generally measured in columns; common layouts include three or two columns. There is however much more to consider in good layout design than the mere number of columns.

You will find it much more advantages to visualise your layout design in a grid, a grid that consists of both columns and rows. A grid is not designed to make your design rigid, it can be an excellent tool. Below we will look at some of the benefits of using a grid system.

Common Practice

The use of grids in design is not a new concept. Interior designers will design rooms with grids. Print and graphic designers design print layouts using grids. If you apply the same grid techniques to web design, your page layouts will look right across multiple platforms and feel right to your customer base.

Restrictions in Creativity

It is a common misconception that using a grid will be boring and that your designs will begin to reflect this. I would certainly agree that if you began to use a grid as a means of filling in squares with something, it would indeed become quite boring. To use a grid effectively, use it to help organise the space you have rather than just filling it up.

Two best practices:

1. Create a standard. It should have a fixed number of sub-divisions, create as many as you think you will need; and then stick to it. The temptation could be to later add random lines to fit around your design. Try to avoid this as the benefit of a grid is its uniformity.

2. When using a grid place your web site elements on the grid lines, make sure they fit the width and height of your grid lines. The best website designs use the grid in a balanced manor, not 100% symmetrical.

Once you begin using a grid, you will find prototype design can be executed much quicker. Web development becomes an easier process as you avoid a lot of cross browser issues, as the browsers also follow a similar grid system. Take a look at some of your favourite websites, it is likely they too follow a similar grid system even if you can’t see the grid at first glance.

An excellent grid to use in web design is the 960 grid. It was developed to streamline both design and development by providing commonly used dimensions, based on a width of 960 pixels.

Don’t Let the Weather Design Your Home

Half way through August and the first faint hints that autumn isn’t far off are creeping into our gardens. Blackberries are ripening in the hedges, crab apples are flushing with rosy hues begging to be picked and turned into delicate jams and anyone venturing onto the lawn in the early morning has to step carefully to avoid the maze of spider’s webs threaded amongst the dew drops.

With summer coming to an end our thoughts turn indoors to redesigning and decorating ready for Christmas. With a virtually limitless choice of colours and a vast range of materials, interior design has never been such fun. Unfortunately, with such a choice, unless you follow the latest trend, interior design has also never been so confusing. Just how do you choose from the whole sweetshop of possibilities?

One simple way of cutting your way through the maze is to employ an interior designer. They can help with advice on trends, fabrics and colour combinations. Not only that, but interior designers can suggest best layouts for rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens, create moods for bedroom design, help you make the most of small spaces and suggest the best lighting to enhance mood.

Whilst interior designers can suggest colours and layouts they will be working with you and matching your style to the final plans. Although some of your tastes don’t tend to change, others will migrate over time and it is important to recognise this when you are looking at colour and fabrics. One aspect that many people overlook is the effect that the season has on their choice of colours.

Mention autumn and the instinctive reaction is to think of russets and browns, of long walks in autumn gales and snuggling up at night next to a dancing log fire. This instinct translates into the way we look at our homes and we are more likely to think about warm colours when we decorate in autumn and winter. Spring, with its new life and fresh breezes moves us towards greens and yellows whilst summer opens up brilliant whites and the clear blue of the sky.

Your interior designer will help to guide you through these phases and work with you so that you can visualise how your home will look throughout the year. Sometimes something simple such as a variety of throws or a change of lamp shade combined with variable lighting will enable you to change the feel of a room with the seasons. Alternatively you may have a room that is more used in the winter than the summer and decorating that with warm colours will meet your winter needs whilst using clearer brighter colours might suit rooms leading directly to the garden.

Whatever you choose, make sure that it fits with your personality and style. At the end of the day, you have to live with the d├ęcor and it is your home. Remember that and enjoy your interior design.

Wired and Wonderful – The Web Site Advantage

We live in a wired world. Thanks to cell phones and Wi-Fi, all of the information on the Internet is never more than a click away. That’s precisely why having a web site is more important than ever before-even for creative, artistic professionals like interior designers.

Those of us who pride ourselves on our ability to create and nurture relationships to build business may cringe at the impersonal nature of the web. But look again. What may seem impersonal at first glance is actually the most revolutionary tool to connect conversations, ideas and solution providers in the history of the world-and you don’t want to miss out on it.

Here are five ways you can make the most of a web site for your company:

1. Expand on your portfolio without high printing costs. In a visual business, creating marketing materials that show your work to its best advantage can be very expensive. Full-color brochures on heavy stock paper with quality binding have a high cost per piece. They’re too expensive to mail out to all but the most qualified prospects. A web site can show your work in full color without the expense of printing and distribution, and it’s very inexpensive to add new photos or even a video tour of your latest show house or designer room.

2. Make a personal statement with audio, video and motion. Your web site isn’t limited to just words. The best web sites are interactive. Let your personality shine through by utilizing easy-to-play audio recordings, video clips from speeches, maybe even a video testimonial from a satisfied client. The web is perfect for a visually-focused profession like design, and with the new options for audio and video, your prospects can really get a sense for your individuality as well as your work.

3. Become more than just a pretty room. Brochures can’t tell your story as well as you can. Yet to keep your business running smoothly, you can’t spend all of your time meeting with prospects. Your web site can fill in the gap by sharing your design perspective, your style philosophy and your unique impression of trends via click-and-play audio and video. Prospects know that you’ll be a good fit for them before they ever pick up the phone to schedule a meeting. That saves time for you and increases the odds that your new client meeting will be a success.

4. Stand out as a thought leader. Today’s editors and reporters do their research online. When they are looking for someone to quote on trends for a given industry, they turn to the web to find experts. They decide which experts to contact based on what they can learn about that person’s point of view and credibility-and that is often determined by the expert’s web site and online articles. How many interviews have you missed because reporters couldn’t find you online?

5. Offer options and added benefits to your clients. With a web site, you can make it easier for customers to do business with your company. You can offer online payment, provide automatic email notification when special-ordered materials ship, and even sell related books or signature products that you have created. Let your current and past clients know about your recent awards, speeches and show houses-it might just spark a call for a new project! You can offer online quizzes and downloadable articles and encourage current clients to purchase additional services by educating them about trends or helping them understand the full scope of what you provide.

The best thing about harnessing the power of the Internet is that you don’t have to do it by yourself. It’s more affordable than ever before to work with a qualified web designer and create a site that is not only a great sales tool, but a magnificent showcase for your work. There’s really no excuse in today’s competitive business environment not to have a web site. Add a web site to your marketing and expand your outreach overnight.