If 2010 was the year of the tablet, apparently 2011 will be the year of the grid.

The Huffington Post on Tuesday rolled out an updated iPad app, which has a grid layout that follows a trend seen in earlier offerings from NPR, Flipboard and CNN, to name a few.

Called the "HuffPost NewsGlide Beta," the new app's home screen consists of a left-hand navigation sidebar and four rows of scrolling photos with headlines. The app is a significant change from the company's original offering, which more closely resembled

The grid format brings a variety of design and usability advantages to the touch-screen interface:

  • It provides clear interaction cues -- swipe left/right or up/down.
  • The image-driven navigation elements are reader-friendly and "touchable," as CNN discovered.
  • The grid consists of modular boxes that eliminate many Web-like design challenges.
  • Because the individual rows can scroll indefinitely, it is possible -- but maybe not recommended -- to promote an unlimited amount of content.

Another advantage the grid has over more traditional Web or magazine-inspired app designs is that it feels like a tablet-native creation. That distinction creates a visual novelty that encourages engagement, and it also provides a fresh platform for internal innovation.

Mashable writes that The Huffington Post expects its app to be a leading indicator for future desktop Web design projects:

" 'All website design is informed by tablet design now,' [Paul Berry, Huffington Post CTO] observes, citing the new Twitter as a landmark example of what Mashable’s Christina Warren has dubbed the 'iPadification of the Web.' "