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Right-Hand Navigation
Is it Really Easier to Use?
AlbinoRhyno

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 12:01 am on Mar 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

After seeing posts to usability studies that looked at scrolling and right hand navigation, I have to wonder what kind of computer setup these studies are using.

Just about everyone who has a newer computer (last two years), has bought a mouse recently, or owns a laptop with a touchpad can scroll much more efficiently without using the scrollbar. The scrollbutton on most mouses make right-hand navigation studies obsolete. In fact, I would argue for top-screen, horizontal nav due to the fact that people with the scrollbutton are more likely to stay near the top third of the screen (back button, manual entries, and bookmarks).

Of course this doesn't apply to Mac users. I never understood what with all of Apple's usability studies, they haven't been able to see the productivity benefits of more than one button.

Oh, and in case you're confused as to why I added notebooks with touchpads into the list, the majority of touchpads can scroll by dragging your finger from the upper right corner to the lower right corner (kind of a pseudo-scrollbar).

 

kapow

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 12:30 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

> The user per click rate is 1 click higher with right hand nav.
Does anyone have any comparison figures for non technical sites?

> Search engines give more weight to content that is at the top of the page rather than the bottom.
Is this true or false. Last year I started creating sites with the table trick but now I don't bother, not because I have a better understanding of the shrouded SE algorithms - its just a feeling that it is not as important. Is there anyone here who will shed some real knowledge on the matter??

So, if you have a description at the top as I usually do, which arrangement is better for the SE rank (to have next in the code):
- Useful and relevant nav links?
- The page content?

> CSS's version of a frame?
Oooh whats that?

cfel2000

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 12:36 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

> Search engines give more weight to content that is at the top of the page rather than the bottom.

I have done may tests and studies and have found that by having the next on right and the content higher in the code it has (about 90% of the time) pushed me up at least 2 to 3 results. I now swear by this method and have recommended it to other people who have done it and seen the same results.

>So, if you have a description at the top as I usually do, which arrangement is better for the SE rank (to have next in the code):
- Useful and relevant nav links?
- The page content?

Content next. I also place useful links at the bottom of a page/article with relavant text links containing keywords in the names. For instance, instead of using [domain.com...] I say 'Help Resource for ...'

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 1:04 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

> most newer computer have scroll buttons

Yes, but since I got a big trackball, I prefer to keep my fingers on the ball - I get much smoother and better controlled scrolling that way as well.

> left hand nav takes up a lot of space on the very side of the page where you expect the text to start

Exactly. As they read the content, the visitors begin to tune out left hand navigation areas, the same as they do with banner ads. I'm not surprised that right hand nav averages one click higher, for exactly this reason: it actually gets seen.

joshie76

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 1:22 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> averages one click higher

I keep seeing this referred to in this thread. What exactly does it mean? The average user visits one page more than with Left hand nav?

If so then I would argue that it's a highly ambiguous piece of data to rely upon for usability decisions. It could easily mean visitors just had a harder time finding what they were looking for.

There are other factors to consider outside of reading left to right and where the mouse cursor is... such as eye-tracking for example:

[world.std.com...]
from above article:Users rarely looked directly at the scrollbar; their gaze peaked considerably to the left of it. This shows that they don’t look at the scrollbar—even when using it. Peripheral vision obviously helped.
[useit.com...]
[poynter.org...] *

I'd prefer to see some examples of webusers playing with Right hand nav and Left hand nav in a controlled experiment before weighting any statement as to which is better (religious argument anyone?), until then I'm with papabaer.

* this site has one of the, err, strangest navigation systems I have ever seen.

Receptional

WebmasterWorld Administrator receptional us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 2:10 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

One of the longest threads I have ever seen!

Seems odd that the overwhelming opinion is right hand nav, but the overwhelming evidence on the web shows left hand or top nav. Why is the rest of the world so wrong?

Slud

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 2:13 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Navigation is a necessary evil that should be moved off the page and into the browser as much as possible.

Support for the <link> tag (now in Mozilla) is a long time coming.

grnidone



 
Msg#: 1807 posted 2:18 pm on Mar 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Slud: I'd love to see a screen shot of that. I was along with Nwilson: I didn't understand how one could navigate without navigation.



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