ambidextrous

by @jehiah on 2004-12-13 23:10
Filed under: All, Articles

What happened to the left hand page navigation? Is it just not cool anymore? It all the sudden it feels so rigid and corporate like to have all the structured navigation over on the left side of the page. I ran some quick stats to actually see if there was a major difference in how bloggers sites were layed out when pitted against corporate sites. Read on to see the differences.

be trendy;

Bloggers are the trendy group, right? all the cool blogs have navigation on the right. Whats worse (or better if you like) is that some don't even have navigation there, but use it for a placeholder of related content.

First lets look at what the facts say. Here are some stats out of the 15 blogs I read and like (as in design or content. Yes there are those I like simply because i've extended the look of the site as a quality of the designer) We will ask the questions

  • Does site have a Column Layout? left, right, na
  • Where is main site or category Navigation? left, right, top, na, other
  • Is the layout ____? fixed, fluid ,other
  • Related content links are? left, right, na

be strict;

Now compare those stats to the corporate sites I frequent. I admit here my definition of corporate might be bizarre to some, and is really what determines these stats, but for this case i'll qualify it as any non-blog site to which I do not subscribe for a service (even though I may go for info about a service which I subscribe to). In other words I access it for product or service information.

Asking all the same questions we come up with these results.

Stats : Blogers (left) vs. Corporate (right)

Column Position
Column Layout Column Layout

Navigation
Navigation Navigation

Layout
Layout Layout

Related Content
Related Content Related Content

Take Your Pick

From this we can draw that if you want your site to be trendy and apeal to that leading edge curve... move the nav to the right.

Why does it matter where the nav is, and is there a reason behind the maddness? Yes there is a reason. When all you care about is the page you land on, and the content is really on that page vs spread across several pages, it helps to have the content first and center in the page. Thus it makes sense for blog sites to have navigation on the right. Corporate sites on the other hand want to draw you from one page to other related pages on their site, and so have navigation in the more prominent location (left). We do afterall read from left to right don't we?

Other Notes

For the purposes of this study we will also ignore the main pages where they are more of the splash variety, and deal with the 2nd and 3rd level pages.

Blogs in this study

  • http://www.mikeindustries.com/
  • http://www.meyerweb.com/
  • http://www.talkingtree.com/blog/index.cfm
  • http://www.paulgraham.com/
  • http://daringfireball.net/
  • http://www.456bereastreet.com/
  • http://www.fiftyfoureleven.com/sandbox/weblog/
  • http://www.simplebits.com/
  • http://leftjustified.net/
  • http://www.webmilhouse.com/wordpress/
  • http://www.joelonsoftware.com/
  • http://sidesh0w.com/
  • http://useit.com/alertbox/
  • http://quirksmode.org/

Corporate Sites Reviewed

  • http://macromedia.com/
  • http://www.apple.com/
  • http://www.arinc.com/
  • http://newegg.com/
  • http://intellicast.com/
  • http://css-discuss.incutio.com/
  • http://en.wikipedia.com/
  • http://provbank.com/
  • http://countrywide.com/
  • http://umuc.edu/
  • http://slashdot.org/
  • http://ibm.com/
  • http://www.microsoft.com/security
  • http://sourceforge.net/
  • http://verizionwireles.com/
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