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September 13, 2007

Why are most blog navigation bars on the right?

It seems to be a best practice in web design to put a navigation bar on the left, so why do so many blogs have their navigation bars on the right? My educated guess is that it's to enhance readability on a mobile device. On most mobile devices, when you pull up a page, the browser reads left to right and top to bottom. And since the real content of a blog is in the posts, not the nav bar, it only makes sense to relegate navigation to the right.

So what? If you have a blog with navigation on the left, it's time for a redesign. I'd be curious to hear from the web geeks on why left nav bars are still the norm for traditional websites.

Caveat: If proliferation of the iPhone becomes widespread, these guidelines may change substantially.

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Daniel said...

I chose mine on the right because I want people to read the most important stuff first i.e., the posts. After they read the posts, then they can browse the side bar.

Plus, I always think of navigating blogs differently than navigating websites. On static content websites, navigating to different pages is more critical, and is many times only achieved through the side bar. Blogs, on the other hand, tend to require less internal navigation from a sidebar.

Dennis D. McDonald said...

Ben, my navigation bar is on the left purely by chance based on my selection of a template. I don't think it's an important issue, also, given the fact that so much traffic is RSS based.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Dennis, you might be surprised. I read a lot of blogs on my cell phone, and frankly, I leave the page if confronted with a lengthy nav bar when I first land on a page. I can't be the only one.

MaldenMom said...

When laying out a static website, most clients want left-hand nav (if not top-nav). Static site nav is akin to a table of contents, which comes first as one reads left-to-right through printed material. Blog nav is a bit more like an index, which feels more palatable on the right, or "end side" of a website.

Back when screens and scripts were more limited, I'm guessing there was a similar, inverse problem from the one you described for cellphones.

Browser windows (and most computing interfaces) expand to the right. I think it basically stems from tech-dev having occurred in left-to-right languages. If you look at Arabic-language sites, you'll see they lay out from right to left (align right, nav right etc.), but flip to L-to-R for their English-language versions. Japanese, written R-to-L vertically, has long been adapted to Western style. When vertical (usually in print), it's R-to-L, but when horizontal, as on major websites, it's L-to-R.

It seems web layouts pretty much mirror historical print layout styles.