Navigate on the right? The jury is still out.

Lucian pointed to the short Syntagm article by William Hudson on right-side navigation. Hudson, responding to Bob Bailey's HFI newsletter article on the topic believes that we need more data before we can know that moving navigation to the right will be a real improvement.

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On the right...

Interesting article, but it fails to mention something that is probably a significant consideration - whether the user is right- or left-handed. A left-handed mouse user is likely to have the mouse physically on that side of the screen, surely this will affect their navigation of the screen?

(For anyone reading this that considers handedness a trivial issue, consider this: quite a few power tools have the lock-on button in a position where a left-handed user's palm would go - potentially lethal for maybe 10% of the population!)

fwiw, I'm left handed but use the mouse right-handed for historical reasons. The blog I feed most (link below) has the navigation stuff on the right, I *think* I find it easier to navigate that way.

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Danny Ayers

Semantic Weblog

Culture right

In a recent redesign I played with right side navigation and found I really like it for a couple reasons. One is use of a touch pad has one fingering the pad like a madman to click and scroll. Second, if find it nice to have the inforamtion framed by just the application window and not a second layer (left nav). It seems that cultures that read left to right the nave bar may (only conjecture) impede reading to some slight degree when looking for the line begining. A left navigation with a long line length could be problematic.

Anybody know of research on eye shifting to find line origin?

Collecting data

I'm collecting data right now on this issue with eye tracking and full on browser instrumentation. -Andy, http://uzilla.net

A not-uncommon problem I have

A not-uncommon problem I have on all the computers I use (several PCs at work, a Macintosh at home) is that the right edge of the page gets cut off by the printer. Too many times, the webpage width is wider than the page width, and the ends of the lines get cut off. In those cases, it really helps if there's navigation or ads on the right, because no one really cares if those get cut off in the printing. That's why I put the navigation on my website on the right, to cut down on the "it didn't print the whole line" problems.

Right hand menus

Most of us read from left to right and from top left of a page (with the exceptions of Asian and Middle Eastern languages). That's the main reason why nav menus should be left sided (or at the top). Right side would confuse the reader as their eyes would have to go from right to left. Nothing to do with design or IA, just human nature!

My Take

I have no schooling in usability, but I prefer right hand nav for two reasons:

1. Having the majority of the links on the right side means I move my mouse a shorter distance when selecting a link. This is doubly important to me with minimal desk space.
2. I am not distracted by the navigation on the left. The page content becomes the focus as left-justified text flows smoothly down the left side. There is no ragged-right text a few pixels away that catches my eyes. Having the nav on the right (with ragged right text) causes no problem as the right side is irregular anyway. With the right side nav being left justified there is a visual cue that it is something different, yet doesn't distract from the page content.

Just a (l)user.