I've been recently curious about FUI's seen in sci-fi games or movies, it seems the conclusion on these UI's is that they are flashy and very unpractical. But one concept that I seen have seen used throughout most of these UIs was laying out UI components on top of a dot grid or just bordered grid, and this didn't seem outlandish to me. The concept of laying out UI elements such that they "hang" on to this strict grid system seems like a good way to stay consistent and indicate structure. But I suppose seeing a dot grid backgrounding the UI might prove too distracting? This concept seems reminiscent of the recent Card UI trend, maybe that's the practical application of this concept?

My question is: Why is the concept of using a strict grid systems (found in futuristic UIs) which involves laying out UI components on top of a visible dot grid good or bad in contemporary UIs?

I would also love any links to analysis regarding to pros and cons of FUIs as I haven't really found any.

For reference here are examples of FUIs that (losely) use this concept:

  • I doubt this question can result in any meaningful answer ... but the links are cool! Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 23:41
  • fun. Phooey gooeys!
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


If the visible grid conveys no information, is merely decoration, then it might be what Edward Tufte calls chartjunk and preaches against. Chartjunk distracts from the useful information, and decoration might seem initially intriguing but after repeated use often just gets in the way.

I can think of 2 questions to keep in mind:

1: Does the grid provide any useful information? On any kind of map a grid provides useful scale information. Borders or frames can group UI or info elements in useful ways (which I think is the case in your financial aggregator example).

2: If the grid is mere decoration, is that necessarily bad? I would say it's usually bad, but not always. If it's not too distracting then the artistic mood provided might be worth the mild distraction. (That background grid of the Omega-369 example seems too distracting for a real working UI, IMO.) When you design things with decoration I've found it's useful to have the decoration aspect factored out and be able to dial it (opacity) down independent of the non decorative info - sometimes you can achieve a pleasing aesthetic with minimal distraction. It's a balancing act. But be careful with decoration (and gratuitous motion and FX), it more often than not impedes use of software.

  • I agree. Aside from the map, the examples are all using the grid purely for visual interest...which is sometimes fine. Sometimes chart junk. (As for the map, maps use grids, so there's some valid arguments for that)
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 1:13
  • I agree, as I pointed out most of these UIs are intentionally flashy and unpractical. But I liked the concept of the grid as the scaffolding for UI, to know where UI could expand too and act as a cue to better understanding the law's behind the UI. I'm just trying to find out why it shouldn't be used, since so few people use this. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 4:20
  • 1
    @SammyGuergachi - grids often provide the structure of UI's (and graphic arrangements in general) without being a visible feature. There's lots of theory on grids in the graphic design world.
    – obelia
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 5:32

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