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Accessibility and Usability Forum

sidebar: right-hand side or left-hand side?
which location is "better" for ads, printing, etc?

 12:00 am on Jun 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Currently, my pages have a column of text, with a major navigation "bar" down the left-hand side (like a second column). There are some minor links across the bottom, and a search box and a link to the "home" page at the top. In other words:
    [home] [search]
    nav text text
    bar text text
    and text text
    ads text text
    TOS, etc. links

When printing, some browsers cut off the right-hand end of the text, which can be an annoyance. And I know (from print media) that the eye (even for left-to-right readers of text) tends naturally to look first at the upper-right.

So would it make sense for me to move the nav-bar -- with its ads -- to the right-hand side?

I didn't do this initially, because so few other sites did, and I didn't want to confuse navigation. But more and more sites have links to the right, so users should be getting used to this, I think. Plus, moving the nav-bar to the right-hand side would mean that cranky printers would only cut off the ads, which I don't care about (in printed form).

Is there any current consensus on this issue?

Thank you.




 12:19 am on Jun 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you create a print style sheet, you can leave out the nav and the ads which are not relevant to the printed page.


 10:14 pm on Jun 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Okay, but regarding the question about navigation bars, is there any consensus about which side is "better"?

Thank you.



 10:55 pm on Jun 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I can't quote resources (I have a terrible memory), but I believe the general concensus is that the nav bar is expected by many visitors to be on the left hand side, while some have stated that moving it to the right brings good results (see [usability.gov...]
I think also that this may relate to the type of site/information/presentation that you have.

Just to test, I printed off a page from one of my sites.
This site uses tables for layout and %/ems for dimension control.
Although the whole page printed, it was printed so small (to fit it all in the narrower A4 width), as to make it difficult (for me) to read.

Then the realisation came that the print results would also depend on how your print function is configured.

There are just so many permutations here........

As jbinbpt say's, there are ways of sending different stylesheets for printing, or different browsers, etc.

I usually put ads, or outside links, on the right with the nav bar on the left, content in the middle.
My reasoning is that the ads are closer to the scroll bar and when my visitors are fed up with scrolling a page, they may just look at the ads and click out that way ;)

Hope the above helps a little....


 11:19 am on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Look for the Google HEAT map in the Adsense help section - it shows what parts of a page that get most clicks. It recommends top and left as the best positions - after an ad block top middle, just above the main content. I'm currently moving as many ads as my designs allow on my older sites to the left side as 120x600 ads.


 4:36 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Although this may not answer which is "better" from a click-through rate perspective nor from a usability perspective ... it is common to put navigation on the left side, and other "tasks" on the right


 5:07 am on Jun 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have always wondered why a right-hand navigation standard never took off. Back before the scroll wheel mouse everyone's cursor had to be on the right-hand side of the screen for vertical navigation purposes. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense in terms of usability to put the most used tasks on the right?


 8:49 pm on Jun 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

So navigation is better placed on the right, but ads (according to the "heat map") are better placed on the left.

And here I am with navigation and ads combined in one bar. Hmm....

I wonder if the "heat map" will change, as more and more sites move to right-hand navigation...?

Thank you.



 10:11 pm on Jun 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't see sights changing to right hand navigation.......... certainly not overnight;)


 2:04 pm on Jun 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

try google for "audi navigation on the right" (without the speach marks) and you will see a user experiment audi did when redesigning their website.


[edited by: encyclo at 3:11 am (utc) on June 8, 2006]
[edit reason] Added link for clarity [/edit]


 11:06 pm on Jun 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Huh. According to that study, there was no statistically-significant difference in apparent user-friendliness. Regardless of whether the nav-bar was on the left or on the right, users completed tasks in about the same amount of time.



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