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When Left Might Not Be Right

Xristine Faulkner and Clive Hayton

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 6, Issue 4, August 2011, pp. 245 - 256


This paper describes an experiment that was carried out on the positioning of menus (or navigational panels) on a Web site. A student cohort developed a Web site that sold Christmas trees, pots, and decorations. Two versions of the same Web site were produced—one with menus on the left and the other with menus on the right. In every other way the two sites were identical. Participants were asked to use one version of the Web site. After they used the Web site, they answered a short online questionnaire. They were unaware of the existence of the alternative version of the site.

The findings showed that there was very little difference in the time-to-buy performance of participants who saw either the left-hand or the right-hand version of the site. In conclusion, there was no significant time savings in sticking to the convention of placing menus on the left-hand side of a Web site, and there might be advantages to placing menus on the right side of a Web site.

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When Left Might Not Be Right