CHI-WEB Archives

ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 3 Sep 1998 00:24:36 +0200
Harald Friz <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Harald Friz <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (124 lines)
The assumption was not that navigation is graphical/spatial
but that it should support this kind of perception.

My main assumption is about the role of the navigation bar.
I think it should not distract the user's attention from the
main content of the page. I assume that the design goal for
most webpages is (or should be :) that reading (or looking
at) the content should be as effortless as possible for the

Take for example,,
or These sites have a navigation
bar on the left that supports the effect I want to point
out. When you look at the pages, the eye goes effortlessly
away from the navigation bar to the main content.

One could argue that this is achieved by choice of colors
and spatial layout of the menu options. And that the same
effect of the eye easily returning to the content would
occur if the same layout of the navigation bar was used on
the right side. But if there is something to the hemisphere
theory, than it would make sense to put the navigation bar
to the left where the hemisphere that is better at
perceiving spatial layout is predominant.

My hypothesis is that mirroring these page layouts would
make reading the page more tiresome. And that this effect is
independent of the user's typical reading direction (left to
right or vice versa).

The nice thing about this hypothesis is that it can easily
be tested (and falsified). It could be done analoguous to
the test by Thomas S. Tullis with greeked webtemplates (as
described in Nielsen's Alertbox Eyetracking
would provide some additional insight. Look for how long the
user keeps his/her eye on the content without being
distracted by the navigation bar.

Also the page layout described by Elizabeth Buie would be a
great candidate for such testing. I think that putting the
text on the left would help the user concentrate on
the image content. Provided of course that the choice of
fonts, colors and layout of the text supports the
right-brain-way-of-looking-at-things. And that the text is
indeed for navigation purposes only and looks almost the
same when going from one photograph to the next.

An opposite hypothesis can be stated based on the typical
reading direction. People are used to read from left to
right (right to left). Therefore it would make sense to put
the content to the left (right) where they start reading.
Thus the navigation bar should be placed on the right

Harald Friz
[log in to unmask]

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Elizabeth Buie <[log in to unmask]>
An: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Datum: Mittwoch, 2. September 1998 21:09
Betreff: Re: right-hand navigation: studies, pros/cons

>Harald Friz wrote:
>> Right-handed people seem to have a tendency to first look
>> the left of the painting (with their right, more
>> brain) and then to focus (with their left, more
>> brain) on the right side of the painting.
>> Putting the navigation bar on the LEFT should support
>> tendency. If you design the navigation bar in a
>> non-attention grabbing manner (that is soft colors, low
>> contrasts, ...) the user's first glance with the right
>> tells him "nothing interesting here". That's when the
>> brain kicks in. The user's attention shifts naturally to
>> right side of the web-page and finds something the left
>> brain likes to handle: text.
>This assumes that the navigation is spatial/graphic (why
>I don't follow) and the content is text.  I've recently
done a
>photography webspace where the main content is photographs
>the navigation is text.  I used right-side, textual
>When you are actually looking *at* an area, it is in both
>and left visual fields, and goes to both hemispheres.
What's to
>the right of it goes to the left hemisphere, and what's to
>left of it goes to the right hemisphere.  So it shouldn't
>an issue of what's in the area where you are directly
>but of what's on the other side of it.  The idea of "left
>for pictures and right side for text" is still supported,
>for a slightly different reason from the one given above.
>Elizabeth Buie
[log in to unmask]
>Computer Sciences Corporation, Lanham-Seabrook, Maryland,
>+1.301.794.1944          (This space accidentally left