Rules-based Design

Rules-based design is where we want to get to. It’s what the web should be. Consistent rules, not consistent designs.

Here’s a good intro:

Grids are used to balance the design of books, ads, posters, and paintings. They are also often used in web design, particularly when it is executed via HTML tables or Flash. The grid has a long and noble history in the design of two dimensional media. But it is not the only way to design web pages and it is certainly not the webbiest way.

A modular approach, wherein the display of each element on the page is controlled by rules that take serial adjacency into account, may be better suited to the web as a medium. We call this approach Rules-Based Design. Instead of basing size and positioning according to an inflexible grid, rules-based design takes the environment of each element into account before determining how that element should be displayed. As a simple example, a header may have one margin when preceded by an image, and a different margin when preceded by a paragraph.

Read the full post here: Zeldman