Grid systems in the 2D space consist of a series of (usually) vertical and horizontal intersecting lines. They typically comprise of margins, columns, rows and gutters; with their purpose being to structure information within a plane. Grid systems function as aids for designers to solve visual problems; balancing and arranging content such as images, text, diagrams and white space in a thoughtful manner; all underpinned by visual hierarchy. Grid systems within Graphic Design as we know them today were first developed and implemented in post World War II Switzerland, serving as the foundations upon which Swiss Design came to be.
Designing with grid systems is as important today as it was 80 years ago. They are an essential tool, used by designers to create well-structured, thoughtful layouts. A successfully implemented grid system can greatly enhance the user experience, leading to clearer communication and ease of visual navigation. With that being said, grid systems can often be misused. Their implementation does not necessarily guarantee more cohesive or desirable results. "The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice." - Josef Müller-Brockmann.
There is no one size fits all solution with grid systems, each individual project requires time and attention in order to identify the best course of action. As a designer, half the battle is establishing the best approach. Once an appropriate grid system has been identified, the goal should always be to utilise it in order to achieve visual balance. It is imperative that this is done without compromising functionality or diluting the desired message.
If you want to learn more about this subject matter we strongly recommend purchasing a copy of ‘Grid Systems’ by Josef Müller-Brockmann. It is an incredible resource, considered the most comprehensive guide on using grid systems in graphic design.