5 Ways to Practice Breaking the Grid in Web Design

It is typical in web design to follow a grid system to keep elements in order and consistent across all pages. But in order to pioneer new design trends and ideas, one can also break the grid from time to time. However, the only way breaking the grid is effective and creative is if design elements are still kept organized and clean, are pleasing to the eye, and do not deteriorate user experience.


Grid Systems

While there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to design, it doesn’t hurt to become aware of established practices, principles, and rules before you actively break (or bend) them. Intuition is one of the most important trait of a designer, but if your design doesn’t fulfill its intended purpose, then it’s a failure for your business.


Grids are made up of invisible lines that serve as a guide for web designers to create harmonious designs that flow smoothly. They keep content lined up horizontally and vertically, with a consistent amount of spacing across all the website’s pages. Basically, grids keep the balance and set the parameters.


Breaking the Grid

The first thing to keep in mind when breaking the grid is to avoid overkill. Breaking a design norm is usually done to emphasize a specific element or part of the content. So when you break the grid, make sure to focus only on this technique and make the most of it. Doing all tricks at once defeats the purpose and will just make the web design look messy.


Here are 5 ways you can practice breaking the grid in web design:


  1. Add Movement
    Break the monotony of boxy content by adding movement like a video or a simple animated icon. A good technique would be to focus on an element and make it the constant immobile one, while everything else around it moves while the user is scrolling. The immobile element is the center of attention and it also serves as the foundation that holds the design together.
  2. Break the Grid without Really Breaking It
    You can stay on the grid and shake things up by using different shapes and placing them on different alignments within the grid. This method looks great on a gallery of photos or a collage.
  3. Experiment with Layers and Containers
    Overlapping elements is done successfully if the right contrast is used and the balance between typography and white space is achieved. Layering can also establish unity of the elements even if they break the grid. Elements that touch and overlap make the user feel like they are part of a single unit.Another way to make elements look put together even if the grid is broken is to group them into containers. Put typography against a colored background or on an image or video. You can also place elements into boxes to further classify which elements are related to each other.
  1. Focus on One Detail
    To play it safe, better start breaking the grid with a simple element, with everything else following a grid system. Take advantage of breaking the grid by applying it on an element used to draw attention. An example would be the background, shapes, and accents. Highlight it further by applying exciting colors.
  2. Put Emphasis on White Space
    White space is not only used to provide gaps between elements. You can make the most of white space by making it part of the main design. White space can help add emphasis to the right places or details. Adding more white space in the right places helps the design to maintain proper alignment while at the same time highlighting and drawing attention to the content.


Breaking the grid in web design may seem easy, and it is, as long as you do it cautiously and sparingly. Apply it only on one page, a simple detail, or a group of elements, with everything else arranged within the grid. This is so that everything is kept in order and to avoid a chaotic design.


Make sure to break the grid with the purpose of attracting attention and encouraging user interaction. Otherwise, a messy design makes a web page hard to navigate and the content illegible.


For businesses and brands looking to enhance their websites to achieve aesthetic and financial goals, outsource your creative tasks to professionals who have the knowledge and experience with design principles and best design practices, allowing them to get out of the box as well as break the grid effectively. Here in MicroCreatives, the premier website design service provider, our team is composed of print and web designers, copywriters, video editors and animators, and WordPress developers – all who have the goal to help achieve your business goals through effective creative execution of your vision.