Now This Log

Wednesday, 29 August 2001 : "Sidebar placement"

Kristie's got an interesting theory:
Someone suggested to me once that Mac users always put their sidebars on the right, while PC users always put theirs on the left, since that is the way their computers are set up. Hmmm....

...and it may well be true for some, but I actually moved the sidebar for practical/usability reasons (and because I over-think things like this).

Genehack has reminded me more than once that people who use text-only browsers have to scroll down through whatever's in the left column before they get to the real content of the page. The longer the left sidebar, the greater the obstacle to the reader; a site like, say, Cam's will require a Lynx user to page down several times to see today's new content. If the sidebar is on the right instead, the meat of the page will show up in the first or second screen of the text browser.

I never had much in my left sidebar, so I wasn't too worried about it before, but hey, I was redesigning anyway so I shoved it to the right.

(Pre-emptive note, just so I don't get 10 corrective e-mails from professional designers: It's true that the scrolling problem won't occur if someone lays out their page using CSS instead of tables [and puts the left sidebar material after the main content in their HTML file], but I'm not going to be doing that for another couple of years because of the number of legacy browsers still hanging around. And because I don't mind table layout all that much, even though I know I'm supposed to.)

(Also: There are plenty of good aesthetic and graphical-usability reasons for having the sidebar on the left. No one should feel bad about choosing to have it on the left. I just decided to change how I do it, for text-browsing usability. Who knows, I may change back if I get tired of it.)

So, that's why the sidebar's on the right now. Plus, I'm a Mac user. :)

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