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  1. #1
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Question Which page navigation is usable?

    Which page navigation is most usable?

    1. Vertical on the left side of the page?
    2. Vertical on the right side of the page?
    3. Horizontal on the left side of the page?
    4. Horizontal on the right side of the page?
    5. Elsewhere (then say where)?

    Please explain also why?

  2. #2
    + platinum's Avatar
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    Define Usable? If you style them properly, and use lists then it won't matter where they are positioned onscreen - they'll still be readable by other limited devices and screenreaders.

    If you mean from a GUI point of view, left hand side is what people are used to (very common positioning), but right hand side means less movement from the scrollbar to actually click on the link.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast bennettpr's Avatar
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    Define Usable? If you style them properly, and use lists then it won't matter where they are positioned onscreen - they'll still be readable by other limited devices and screenreaders.
    That would be a definition of accessible would it not?
    on the bandwagon.....
    http://bennettpr.blogspot.com

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    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Probally a mixture.

    Ease of use verses availability and access to data.

  5. #5
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xhtmlcoder
    Probally a mixture.

    Ease of use verses availability and access to data.
    What mixture? Can you be more specific?

  6. #6
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure there is no answer to this. Suffice to say that if the navigation is clearly presented, and using semantic markup then most people / systems shouldn't have too much problem using it.

    The main thing to get right I'd say involves logical architecture and consitancy. Crack both of them and most people shouldn't have a problem. Unless they're really stupid, in which case, they probably wouldn't have found their way to your website in the first place.
    Hello, hello, what's all this shouting?
    We'll have no trouble here

    (Helping a pal... http://www.funkdub.info)

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard megamanXplosion's Avatar
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    The question cannot be answered, in all honesty. There are so many factors that go into wether or not a layout is usable that, with the information you have provided us, it's impossible to give an accurate answer.

    For example: Let's say you have the site navigation as a vertical list of links on the right side of the page, you could say that it's more usable because it's next to the scrollbar, but you can also say that it's less usable because it makes the user move further to reach the back/forward/stop/reload buttons. If the navigation is on the left side then it would be more usable because it's next to the browser buttons but further from the scrollbar. If you have a horizontal navigation from left to right underneath the logo that could be more usable because you can meet them halfway for the browser buttons and the scrollbar, but it could also be less usable depending on the order of the links (for example: if the most-visited link is on the left then it will be spotted easier, hence more usable, but it would also be further away from the scrollbar so it would be less usable, and vice versa).

    It's simply not possible to answer such a broad question with a specific answer. Like Bradley mentioned earlier, your best bet is focusing more on the information architecture (workflow) and consistancy rather than positioning. Positioning is nothing more than a personal preference, as far as I can tell, and I don't really think people visiting your web site will actually pay enough attention to notice any down-side to it's current positioning, and if they do, it's a personal preference and you cannot make a change to fit their wants without abandoning someone else's wants.

    Just my opinion on the matter.

  8. #8
    Huh? What now? tntcheats's Avatar
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    I just go with the general thing used:
    3 columns with logo top left, skyscraper or links to affiliates on the right along with less important links to pages around the site, and on the left, the main more important links ordered (for sites I'm just starting) by which terms get the most searches in the engines or (for sites established) by which pages get the most hits--usually it's around the same though.

  9. #9
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    There are lots of ways to skin this one.

    I would say that primary navigation should go horizontally along the top, and secondary section nav should be arranged either horizontally below the L1nav, or vertically down the left or right of the content.

    There are lots and lots of things to consider, no one size fits all.

    It's been shown that top nav is less noticeable than left-positioned nav (i.e. gets less eye attention). This is good, because you don't actually need to see primary nav unless you need it. It shouldn't grab your attention, but be instantly to hand when you want to view it (to get an overview of the site architecture, or go to another main section).

    Also, left nav is less noticeable than right-hand nav. This is probably because left nav is more conventional, and so we're accustomed to filtering it out. Right-side nav is slightly unusual, which probably attracts more attention.

    Web pages have finite useful width (somewhere between 500-1200 px), and long-infinite length (but I guess finite usable length). That means that if you want to use horizontally-arranged navigtation, it needs to fit across the page. So be sure it's not likely to extend. Because you should also do it with CSS and relative font sizes (not images), you want to be confident it'll scale well.

    As for whether other nav should go down the left or right, I've debated this a lot in other forums recently, and I'd conclude that it's up to you. On my site (http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com), I use right-hand nav, which I find good for 2 main reasons:
    - Most people hover the mouse cursor on the right side of the screen, so right nav is easier and quicker to locate and hit (because of Fitt's Law)
    - It leaves the left margin clean, which I find easy to read

    On a lot of designs, the space under the navigation creates a blank column (i.e. not used for content, may be used for ads and other links). This creates another question: do you want that blank column down the left or right of your content? I don't think there's a right answer to that one.
    Check out my free course in the essentials of web design: Web Design From Scratch


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