SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Right-hand navigation
Re: SIGIA-L: Right-hand navigation
From: Tanya Rabourn (rabourn_at_columbia.edu)
Date: Mon Mar 25 2002 - 20:56:12 EST
> But while we're on the subject, it's worth noting that the main reason left-
> hand navigation developed as a convention was that back in the early days
> of the web was that coding-wise it was easier to deal with variable browser
> window sizes by anchoring it to the left.
Yes! I always want to point that out when someone puts forth the argument
that users are accustomed to seeing it there, therefore that's where it
should be. It's a fairly young convention compared to other media, like
most things in the web world. So, I think placing the navigation on the
left should still be open to question.
During the summit the Audi case study presented by Jim Kalbach
included some user testing results of left vs. right. I don't think he's
put his slides up for you to get, but the conclusion (and I hesitate to
paraphrase for fear I get it wrong) was that as the number of tasks
completed increased, the right hand menu soon won out as the more
The other argument that people who read left to right benefit from the
menu being on the left seems a bit weak to me. I'm sure that leap of
logic was inspired in an attempt to rationalize the technical
limitations of the earlier layouts. I don't think I've seen any strong
research in support of it. (If there is any please post!)
I was thinking about that argument the other day when I was reading a
cog. psych article that included the statement, "[r]eaders of English
primarily obtain information from the right of the point of fixation."
(McConkie and Rayner 1975). Given that, it still seems a leap to use that
fact to argue for menu placement on the left or on the right.
I think much of what Jakob et al. would call conventions for web page
layout are far too young to be followed without question and assume that
the maximum benefits are being realized.
Tanya Rabourn <rabourn_at_columbia.edu>
[User Services Consultant]
AcIS R & D <www.columbia.edu/acis/rad>
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:05 EST