Your eyes are twice as likely to look at the left side of a web page than the right side, posits Jakob Nielsen in an inspiring article about eyeball movements on the web.
Considering the majority of people reading this sentence live in a country that reads text from left to right, why should sidebar content historically remain on the right? Isn’t it more useful to place navigational information on the left, to provide greater odds the sidebar is actually seen?
It is one thing if the majority of blog readers use computer monitors with 800×600 screen resolutions whereby a left sidebar might force unnecessary horizontal scrolling, but analytics indicate less than 1% of people visiting this blog over the past three months have such a resolution. Most visitors are using larger screens.
More from Nielsen:
Returning to sites in the many languages that read left-to-right — such as English, German, French, Russian, and (these days) Japanese — what do our findings mean?
Simply put: Stick to the conventional layout, because it works perfectly with how people look at Web pages:
* Keep navigation all the way to the left. This is where people look to find a list of current options.
* Keep the main content a bit further in from the left.
* The most important stuff should be showcased between one-third and halfway across the page. This is where users focus their attention the most.
* Keep secondary content to the right. It won’t be seen as much here, but that’s okay — not everything can get top billing, and you need a place to put less-important material.
German automobile manufacturer Audi asked these questions in September 2000 when redesigning their websites. They solicited the advice of outside companies to run focus groups and conduct A/B testing to determine the preference of left or right navigation. They concluded the positioning of navigation did not affect usability.
The right might return but the left is now here.
This is in line with things happening.
…and the right returned two days later.