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Thinking Outside the Grid (19 Dec 2005)
London, unlike Tucson, is a maze. I know Londoners who carry around a London A-Z guidebook to help them navigate! The city’s transportation system is so challenging that would-be cab drivers must pass a test demonstrating that they possess “The Knowledge” in order to drive traditional black cabs. The city’s organic growth hasn’t exactly made it the easiest place to navigate.

But in London, wonderful enclaves and interesting areas have emerged and neighborhoods with distinct flavor exist everywhere—and it can certainly be said that there aren’t just one or two central areas of cultural, community interests, but many. While navigation is perhaps more difficult, there are more alternatives, and people are therefore more motivated and able to become involved in the city’s offerings.

When examining deconstructed and spontaneous designs, the metaphor persists. How are people to navigate spirals and winding alleyways with ease? On the other hand, compelling visual work can result from breaking out of the rigid system that the Web’s design and development environment has, to date, retained. In figure 4, you can easily see how breaking down the rigid confines of grid layouts challenges designers to maintain ease of use while creating designs that look different from what we’re so accustomed to seeing.
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