Using a straight shower tile layout is the easiest way to place your tiles, which is ideal if you find this job a challenge. The straight design, in which you place rows or tiles directly above and below each other so all the seams line up, requires little in the way of cutting and measuring. The drawback to this style is the lack of visual interest it creates.
While a staggered design can have more visual interest than a standard, straight design, it's also more work to accomplish. Instead of the rows of tiles being completely aligned, each row is staggered. This style is common in floor tiles and brick sidewalks and driveways. You can stagger rows in halves or thirds, meaning after you place the first row, the next row begins halfway or one-third of the way across the tile below.
Often, the tiles you choose for the shower renovation project will dictate what style you choose. If you use small, 1-inch tiles, laying them in a straight pattern is common as a staggered design could be visually distracting. With large tiles, you have the freedom to try either style. Natural-cut tiles, in materials such as slate, are often cut in random sizes. With this style of tile, you're forced to use a staggered design.
It is hard to decide what style of tile layout you will adopt until you test both styles out. This doesn't mean you have to install both kinds, but you should lay a series of tiles out on the floor to determine which style you like best. If the tiles are large enough, recruit some family members to hold them against the shower wall in both patterns so that you can make your decision.