UX Design: 8 Point Grid System

Arash Ranjbaran Qadikolaei
6 min readMay 17, 2022

If you are a product designer or User Experience Designer then maybe you’ve probably heard the term grid system. In this article, I will discuss using the most commonly used 8-point Layout Grid Systems. Because consistent and scalable spacing helps both designer and developer to work much faster on a project. 👌

Why use 8 point Grid system?
Website, apps, dashboard, UI, etc. there is a variety of screen sizes. Pixel densities have continued to increase making the work of asset generation more complicated for designers. Utilizing number like 8 to size and space elements makes scaling for a wide variety of devices easy and consistent. Also, the majority of popular screen sizes are divisible by 8 which makes for an easy fit. The principle of 8pt Grid is that use multiple of 8 (8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, etc.) for layout, dimensions, padding, and margin of elements.

The value of 8 point grid system

  • It provides a visual hierarchy to elements and drives consistent scalability with fewer decisions to make while maintaining a quality rhythm. When designing the UI look clean, better, and beautiful.
  • The best system of communication between designers and developers. A developer can easily understand and eyeball 8pt increment instead of having to measure each time.

Ok. So what is the point exactly?

Point (pt) is a measurement of space that is dependent on screen resolution. When we start UI design we use a small artboard (375x812 for iPhone X) but the real device screen resolution is huge (1125x2436 or 5.8inch for iPhone x). It happens because in iPhone X the artboard is rendered at 3 times (@3x) as much since it has a Super Retina display that has 3 times as much PPI ( Pixel per Inch).

The reason behind designing for the smallest size (@1x) is, that it allows us to scale our assets into the different sizes the different devices require (retina, super retina, and other displays) while maintaining pixel-perfect rendering.

The hard and soft grid method

Hard and soft grids both are a part of the grid system but there is some difference between them.

“In short, Hard grids snap content to a fixed grid, and Soft grids define the spacing between elements rather than to some looming, document-wide grid — Ben Dalziel.

In my design, I always follow soft grid layouts because it mirrors the development environment closely because programming doesn’t follow the hard grid structure. To learn more read this article: The bottom line on measuring hard and soft grids.

Believe me, if you use an 8pt grid system then your design will look 10x better. For Interface or UI Design, I use Figma software. You can use other software. Before starting design, first, I set up a grid system and it helps me work faster. Also, when I hand off the design to the developer they can easily understand the design.

Setup a Layout system using 8 point grid and Bootstrap

If you are designing for the web then you must do responsive design (web pages that look good on all devices). Also, when designing for mobile you have to make sure it will fit all devices. That’s why it’s important to set up a layout system (8 points + Bootstrap). At first, for Horizontal Rhythm/grid use a standard bootstrap grid system of 12 column layout with a gutter width of 24px (1.5rem). If you took an artboard of 1440px (Desktop size) then use a 60px margin on each side of the container.

For Vertical Rhythm/ grid use 8px (Height) because when you will use typography, iconography, cards, buttons, etc using 8 points it will fit easily in your layout system.

I hope you are not bored because I am taking a lot. So, let’s take a break from reading and watch a video of an industry expert-

Michael Wong

. Watch the below tutorial: Setup a Responsive Grid Layout for UI & Web Design (IN 11 MINUTES) by MIZKO and you will understand everything.

The spacing system between elements and 8 point grid

Spacing is very important in UI design because it makes the design neat and clean. UI looks logical (developers friendly), attractive and beautiful. Use principles of 8 point: 8px / 16px / 24px / 32px / 40px / 48px / 56px and so on for all padding and margin between elements (sometimes you can use 4px if you need to go in tight).

When I design, I define my spacing values as variables so that developers can understand my spacing system easily.

Iconography and 8 points grid

When you are designing make sure you use SVG format. If you intend on using or designing icons then use multiples of 8 (16×16, 24×24, 32×32, 40x40, etc). It will easily fit within the layout system.

Typography and 8 points grid

8pt Grid on typography gives a much more harmonious vertical rhythm throughout designs. To create a consistent typography system fast sometimes I use this web tool: Type scale.

Font size may vary from device to device, It could be 14px, 15px, 21px, etc but it’s important the line height will not. Line height should be a multiplication of 8 (8, 16, 24, 32 …) but if you want then you can use a multiplication of 4 (4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24…). I personally use multiplication of 4 for line-height because it gives more fine-grained control and brings much better results.

Related Articles:

Conclusion

Remember you don’t have to follow this grid system strictly (100%). We’re designers, not robots 👽 and we should be flexible. So, if a component is not multiplied by 8 but the design looks good just use it, break the rule. One more thing, when you are working on a project then share the system with the developers and help them understand the benefits.

Feel free to reach out if you got any questions and if you found this article handy 👍 then connect with me on LinkedIn (I would love to hear from you).

--

--