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Two, Three, Four Columns?


Junior Member
Having studied design for a good 2 years now, I think I have a pretty good understanding as to when to choose to implement a 2, 3, 4 or whatever column layout.

I ask therefore, how does one go about choosing exactly how many columns they need for a site? Is the grid structure motivated by design? Or, content?

Mark Boulton Mark Boulton: Homepage states that;

" What isn't so good though is the general lack of understanding of grid systems when perhaps the question on most designers lips when they sit down to begin a design is, 'how many columns should I have'. This is not grid system design."

Is Mark right in saying that there must be a complete reasoning (discarding visual appeal) behind deciding the number of columns one needs or wants in a site?


surely the grid should never be motivated by design in the same way the design shouldn't motivate the content.

Content and userability should be first each and every time. Make the site the best site it can be for the user.


Senior Member
I think if your actually thinking about things like that, your not really "flowing" and a design will be compromised - you need to experiment and make changes as the design evolves - eventually the correct layout will be obvious and not necersarily anything like you first imagined.


Junior Member
**Content and userability should be first each and every time**

This goes without saying BUT in the wide world of the web it is design that will ensure that people come back to your site time and again. I have stopped using some sites that had excellent content but the design made the site unusable.

Now this opens the question of whose responsibility is the user experience and i would always argue for the designer here. The developer makes it work. The editor creates the content but the designer knows about usability and layout.

Just for the record I regularly use a 7 column grid as this gives a fantastic amount of flexibility from page to page.
I agree with the above...

Everything is dependent on the content. For me, the choice comes when I'm attempting to layout the content. I believe deciding on a two/three/four column layout really depends on what the content requires. Keep it usable, and don't adhere to "trends" simply because they're there.