1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Dec. 10, 2006
The Design Problem
The problem of laying out pages in a structured organized way showed up long before the web. The idea of the grid emerged as a way of building pages in consistent ways. This way a group of pages can vary slightly in their layout but still feel like they go together. This is not to mention the fact that pages which are well organized using a structured grid tend have a cleaner more organized feel to them.
Applying these principals to the web is certainly not a new idea, it is in many ways though a very tough challenge. The very nature of the web defies a rigid grid. Browsers render things differently, text size can change, users computers have all sorts of resolutions. There are a ton of things that make it tough. This is why you end up with a lot of curtain sites. Curtain sites are those that are pinned at the top and everything sort of dangles down to where it ends, with not much of a unified conclusion. Design Meltdown and most every other blog are exactly like this. Now in some cases this is unavoidable and it is not entirely bad.
Home pages are perhaps the best opportunity designers have to make a clean grid like page. Take a look through these samples and you will see what I mean. Many of them have laid out their home page so that it fits into a nice box. Every element works together to create an overall unified feel. This greatly opposes the idea of connecting it all at the top and letting it hang where it may.
Anyone interested in pursing this will likely need to master the art of the scrolling div, or the inline frame.