Sometimes Right Sidebars Just Make Sense

Friday, February 27, 2004 at 7:02 am | Comments off

There's no doubt about it, right sidebars are the standard when it comes to blogs. Ever wondered why this might be? Is there a good reason to have the content on the left and the sidebar on the right? Perhaps there is...

The main benefit that I can see to using a right sidebar (do note, however, that these are not a good fit for all sites) is the fact that at smaller resolutions, more of your content will be available on the screen. This site has been designed to fit without a horizontal scroll from 800x600 and up. However, if you were to use a 640x480 monitor (God forbid!) you would find that you would still be able to view the entire content area. Due to the fact the content is the most important part of this site (and most others), the easy viewing of this content should be one of the most important considerations to keep in mind when designing. If you were to design for a larger base screen resolution than 800x600, this might be an important point to take into consideration.

Something to think about, anyhow...


February 27th, 2004
7:41 AM | #

Not to mention the fact that, in the western world, we read from left to right. Thus it makes sense to have the navigation to the right of the content.

Robert Wellock
February 27th, 2004
2:40 PM | #

However, it is an accessibility and usability issue, which is normally counterproductive since the majority of people on this planet are right-handed.

Thus when a right-handed user moves the mouse way from their body (as with a right-hand navigation menu) they put strain upon the wrist.

Whereas if the user moves the mouse towards their body (as with a left-hand navigation menu) it is a more natural form of movement thus less strain.

February 27th, 2004
2:54 PM | #

I'm sorry to argue Robert, but that just doesn't seem right to me. Consider the scroll bar: why, after countless thousands of hours of testing and UI design is the scroll bar on the right then?

We all use the scroll bar much more often than any navigation control (excluding the back button). If this constituted a particular "strain", Apple et al would have moved it to the left-hand side many, many years ago. That they didn't is surely indicative of something?

Robert Wellock
February 27th, 2004
5:18 PM | #

It indicates legacy alone; but there have been many scientific and medical studies carried out on such things.

I have no major preference myself but physiologically for the right-handed individual it results in less damage to the wrist then again we now have scrollable mouse wheels...

I am indifferent since I was just stating factual evidence not my personal opinions.

Aaron Schaefer
February 28th, 2004
6:22 AM | #

Combining/elaborating on some of the points already made, I've also read that because the content of the page is theoretically the most important part, and that we usually read from left to right, placing the content on the left means that we no longer have to subconsciously skip over the navbar every time we finish reading a line, which makes it easier to read the important stuff. (How's that for a run-on sentence)

February 29th, 2004
8:29 PM | #

Does anyone actually use anything less than 800x600 anyway??

March 1st, 2004
1:26 PM | #

Heh, heh... does anyone use 800x600 anymore? (no need to answer that - I'm in a frivolous mood this morning).

March 1st, 2004
4:31 PM | #

Lol. For real. My LCD monitor only supports up to 1024x768, and half the time I'm wishing I could go higher. I can't stand 800x600, and to answer the 640x480 question, let's just say that since I started keeping track of screen resolutions used on this site, (granted, it uses JavaScript, so it may not be 100% accurate, but then again, stats rarely are) I've not had 640x480 show up even once. ;)

Manny "Moonglobe" Wineberg
April 8th, 2004
1:44 AM | #

In response to Robert: That's why I use a trackball and not a mouse.

ola zay zoss
December 3rd, 2004
4:15 PM | #

am i correct thinking that search engines view sites from left column first. If that is so then isn't it best to have the post or body on the left and the sidebar on the right.

i'm useless at code (a cut and paste artist i'm afraid) but i'm trying,without success, to work out how to have posts left and two sidebars on the right hand side so as to give as much info as possible on the 1st pageview for viewers.

does this make sense?

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