Grid it Out

Exchange / August 13, 2014

Each Monday during our weekly meeting, one team member shares something from within their area of expertise. This is a time for us to exchange inspiration, practical knowledge or whatever has been on our minds. We appropriately call this time “Exchange” and have adapted a recent segment to share with you here.

When working on page layouts or other compositions for clients, designers can easily go on autopilot. We know the rules of good design and make choices accordingly, but it often becomes second nature.

This is great until we present the work to the client and they begin asking why we made certain choices. We love a good design conversation with a client. But sometimes we set ourselves up for failure because we haven’t consciously reminded ourselves of why the design works.

So, grid it out! One of the best ways to explain layout decisions to clients is with a grid. Before you start designing, draw a diagonal line from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, either on a portrait or landscape orientation. Then draw a line from each other corner to join the previous horizontal line at a right angle. The point where the lines join are the areas of maximum attention. This is where your eyes want to look; this is where they’re naturally led.


A composition based on this layout leads the viewer’s eyes across the page. Test out this grid on other works, like ads in magazines or even famous works of art. You’ll find that most pieces work within this grid structure.

TryHereWhen it comes time to show the client your design solution, take a minute to explain the grid and why it works. Point out how it’s been used on art and design from well-known examples. Then present your concept through the lens of this method. Now you’ve found a way to present things objectively! And that makes for smooth sailing when presenting your work.