The Complete Beginner’s Guide to the Difference Between Flexbox and CSS Grid

css grid and flexbox



When we visit a website, we see different elements on the page — text, images, buttons, and so forth. These elements are like pieces of a puzzle, and we need a way to fit them together in an attractive and functional way. In the world of web design, Flexbox and CSS Grid are the tools that help us do that.

What is Flexbox?

Imagine you have a box full of different toys – a rubber duck, a toy car, a teddy bear. You can arrange these toys within the box in many ways – side by side, stacked on top of each other, or even a mix of both. Flexbox is just like that – it’s a tool that helps you arrange “boxes” (web elements like images, text, buttons, etc.) in a straight line, either stacked vertically or placed horizontally.

With Flexbox, you can align these boxes neatly, distribute space between them evenly, and make sure they adjust themselves neatly when viewed on different screen sizes, such as on a mobile device or a wide computer screen.

What is CSS Grid?

Now, let’s make the toy box a bit more complex. Let’s say you now have a chessboard, and you need to place your toys in precise squares on this board. CSS Grid works like this chessboard – it’s a tool that allows you to place your web elements in a precise two-dimensional layout – both rows and columns.

CSS Grid gives you the control to define exactly where your boxes should go, how wide or tall they should be, and how they should adjust to different screen sizes. This makes CSS Grid perfect for complex designs with multiple rows and columns, such as photo galleries, card layouts, or the overall layout of a webpage.

In a nutshell, both Flexbox and CSS Grid are powerful tools in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), the language used for designing the look and formatting of a document written in HTML. They give you more flexibility and control in designing your webpages and help create an effective and engaging user experience.

In the realm of web development, organizing elements in an efficient and visually pleasing manner is essential. Modern CSS technologies, Flexbox and CSS Grid, have made this task simpler than ever. Both are invaluable tools when it comes to controlling the on-page layout, but they have different capabilities and use cases.

Understanding Flexbox

Description and History

The Flexible Box Module, commonly known as Flexbox, is a CSS layout model introduced around 2009 during the era of CSS3. It was designed to manage item alignment, order, and flexibility within a container, particularly when the sizes of these items are unknown or dynamic, thus simplifying the construction of complex layouts.

Use Cases: When to Use Flexbox

Flexbox excels in handling one-dimensional layouts—those that involve a row (horizontal) or a column (vertical). It’s the go-to choice for situations where elements need to be aligned, space needs to be evenly distributed, or elements need to be reordered dynamically, regardless of their original position in the HTML.

Features and Benefits

Flexbox offers a range of benefits. It enables responsive design due to its inherent flexibility that allows content to adjust based on the screen size. With Flexbox, centering elements both vertically and horizontally requires minimal code. Moreover, it gives control over the order and orientation of elements, allowing adjustments without changing the HTML structure.

Browser Support

Flexbox is widely supported across all modern browsers, including the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera. It’s important to note, however, that Internet Explorer 10 and 11 support an older version of Flexbox which might not have all the functionalities of the current specification.

Understanding CSS Grid

Description and History

The CSS Grid Layout, often known as CSS Grid, is a powerful CSS framework introduced around 2017. It was designed to handle complex two-dimensional layouts—layouts that involve both rows and columns, providing greater control and precision in organizing webpage content.

Use Cases: When to Use CSS Grid

CSS Grid is your best friend for complex two-dimensional layouts, where control over both rows and columns is necessary. It’s the ideal tool for crafting intricate grid-based layouts like webpage layouts or photo galleries.

Features and Benefits

The features of CSS Grid are extensive and robust. It supports grid gap properties that provide control over the space between grid cells, a feature not available in Flexbox. It also allows for the use of fr units for fraction-based sizing and offers named grid areas (template areas) for added clarity.

Browser Support

Like Flexbox, CSS Grid is also supported by all modern browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera. However, CSS Grid’s support in Internet Explorer is limited to an older version that doesn’t include many of the newer features in the full specification.

Key Differences between Flexbox and CSS Grid

Flexbox and CSS Grid are distinct in several key ways:

  1. Dimension: Flexbox is designed for one-dimensional layouts (either in a row or column), while CSS Grid is built for two-dimensional layouts (rows and columns together).
  2. Control: Flexbox’s approach is item-based, with each item controlled individually. CSS Grid offers a layout-based approach, providing control over the entire grid structure.
  3. Complexity: Flexbox is simpler and more straightforward to use, while CSS Grid, due to its advanced functionalities for handling complex two-dimensional layouts, can be a bit more complex to master.

When to Use Flexbox vs CSS Grid

Choosing between Flexbox and CSS Grid depends largely on the complexity of the layout you need to create.

Flexbox is optimal for simpler, one-dimensional layouts where you need to align items in a line or stack them in a column. It’s great for creating navigation bars, form controls, or simple stacking of elements.

CSS Grid, on the other hand, is a better choice for complex, two-dimensional designs that require precise placement of elements in both rows and columns. It’s the tool to reach for when creating entire page layouts, card designs, or intricate image galleries.

It’s crucial to remember that Flexbox and CSS Grid aren’t mutually exclusive. You can use both in the same project to take advantage of their unique strengths.

Flexbox and CSS Grid in WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor

The WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor has significantly improved the experience of building and designing websites on the WordPress platform. Gutenberg uses Flexbox and CSS Grid technologies to provide users with more control and precision over their layouts.

Flexbox in the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor

Flexbox is currently used in several Gutenberg blocks, including:

  1. Columns Block: Flexbox is used to create responsive layouts with equal-height columns. It enables the columns to be flex containers that hold the content, with each column being a flex item.
  2. Button Block: The button block uses Flexbox to align the text inside the button, allowing for center alignment both vertically and horizontally.
  3. Row Block: Flexbox allows for easy arrangement of elements within the row block, providing control over alignment and space distribution.

CSS Grid in the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor

While Gutenberg currently utilizes Flexbox in several blocks, with the release of WordPress 6.3 in August 2023, it is slated to begin incorporating CSS Grid into the following blocks:

  1. Query Loop Block: The Query Loop Block, which displays posts from a WordPress site, will start using CSS Grid to provide more intricate, two-dimensional layout capabilities, such as the ability to control row and column gaps.
  2. Group Block: CSS Grid will allow the Group Block to handle complex layouts involving nested structures, providing the ability to align blocks into desired rows and columns more effectively.


To sum it up, both Flexbox and CSS Grid are powerful layout models that you can use to create attractive, functional designs. While Flexbox is easier to use and perfect for one-dimensional layouts, CSS Grid provides more control and is ideal for more complex, two-dimensional layouts.

The adoption of these technologies by WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor exemplifies their significance in modern web design. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each will allow you to use them individually or together effectively.

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