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Web Design and Attention

April 9, 2010

In searching for articles on web design I happened across a site authored by Jakob Nielsen  (  Located on the site is a series of article on usability, the most recent posting is entitled Horizontal Attention Leans Left (  Nielsen goes on to discuss how users of web sites concentrate most of their attention on the left hand side of the screen.  his finding suggest that viewers spend 69% of viewing time on the left and 30% on the right hand side of the screen.  I guess this doesn’t bode well for my right hand nav design.   I included this article and site since it added to my knowledge of web design principles and accessibility (weeks 5 & 6).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. jhansen1066 permalink
    April 9, 2010 7:53 pm

    This is interesting. There’s starting to be a lot of concern now in K-12 education about the scanning patterns that become habitual with web use, and how they impact fluent reading of solid blocks of text. It’s something to be aware of in instruction. Thanks.

  2. vwalker23 permalink
    April 9, 2010 8:25 pm

    I’m a big fan of Nielsen, but haven’t checked out his site as often as I should lately. This story was interesting to me because I’m left-handed and wonder now if I’m left-eyed as well, because I much prefer a right-hand nav design! I put my website navigation on the right side of the page and it feels perfectly natural, although my left hand is on the mouse.

  3. slisamy permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:05 pm

    Interesting about most users focusing on the left side of the page. It reminds me of the “F-pattern” I think it was called that we read about earlier in the semester. I haven’t read the link thoroughly, but I wonder how much of the left-side bias in eye-tracking is due to early design norms that put content on the left side of web pages. In other words, is a right-side nav panel really a hindrance if there is no panel on the left for users to look at?

  4. moonayaco2k permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:14 pm

    Oh, this is interesting. I usually look at the top first and then to the left. When reading the webpage, I was wondering about left-to-right languages and their position. It’s interesting how the navigation is still placed on the left. I wonder if the web designers are foreigners or have learned how to web design from foreigners.

  5. ncdeanda permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:34 pm

    I am finding myself drawn to web usability articles lately, and I will definitely give this one a look. I now monitor myself as I’m clicking around the Internet, and I think I spend a lot of time on the right, but that’s only because that’s where the main content is located. I always check out the left side, no matter what else I look at on the page, but then it’s always back to the right. Maybe I’m just weird that way.

  6. lib240chang permalink
    April 9, 2010 11:51 pm

    If we’re viewing a page with text that spans from left to right across the whole screen, then it makes sense that most of the focus with be on the left-hand side since we generally don’t read the whole content and just skim. But if we’re viewing a site with a more complex layout like the homepage of most newspapers, we might focus on the center or wherever the text is largest.

    Nielsen suggests that we stick to a conventional layout, but I think that some users (e.g. younger ones) could enjoy more imaginative designs and are certainly able to quickly adapt to them. In the end, I think how we choose the site design should all depends on the audience we’re trying to reach.

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