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My original question is "Left or right placement of interactive elements on a web page", but only now did I find a place where I think I can find the right people to understand it.

The gist is: is there any natural inclination in right-handed people, when reading a web page, for example, to prefer those interface elements which lead to actions (e.g. "print", "save", "get a link", etc.) to be placed on the right side of the screen and then, to prefer navigational elements (e.g. menus, especially tree-structured category menus) to be placed on the left side, while the preference for content for reading would be in the middle?

That is: navigation (reference stuff) on the left, content (passive perception stuff) in the middle, action elements on the right, all in this manner because of a potential instinct to reach for anything action related with one's right hand.

Is there any research or at least speculation on the subject?

And a follow-up question: if there is such an inclination does it appear to be reverse in left-handed people?

update: - similar question asked here: http://www.quora.com/Are-right-handers-more-likely-to-rest-their-cursor-pointer-on-the-right-hand-side-of-the-screen

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an anecdote: I'm a left-hander (and left-eye dominate) who uses the mouse right-handed and prefers menus and sidebars on the right on the screen. I expect, however, the file menu to be left-most and have open, close, print, etc. So expectations from experience might be more important than (or at least compete with) innate preferences. –  Keegan Keplinger Dec 30 '12 at 22:13
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your question may also be suitable for ux.stackexchange.com –  Jeff Dec 31 '12 at 3:20
    
@Jeff Zemla tried there, admins deleted it as either off-topic or too broad,can't remember exactly –  drabsv Dec 31 '12 at 10:28
    
@Xurtio - What do you mean by saying "and prefers menus and sidebars on the right on the screen" - menus and sidebars containing navigational elements or action elements, as described in my question? –  drabsv Jan 2 '13 at 11:43
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I am also left-handed (and left-eye dominant) but I use computer mice with my right hand, though I wonder if that's more because it's a habit and how I've always used a mouse. Similarly with scissors; as a child I found using scissors with my left hand incredibly frustrating so just eventually grew accustomed to using my right hand and still do so. –  PheonixEnder Jan 9 '13 at 1:56

1 Answer 1

There is indeed some research on handedness and user interfaces but not exactly at the level you seem to be after. Handedness matters for tablet interfaces, hand occlusion is a particular concern there.

Some references: http://hal.inria.fr/hal-00670516/en and http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.89.4546

Speculating myself a little bit, I would however be careful when drawing practical conclusions from any putative “natural” handedness-related inclination. Maybe there is such a thing and it could conceivably be measured but you need much more than that to justify any UI decision.

In particular, cultural factors (in a broad sense, including web and platform conventions) could just as well play a big role. The usability literature has always emphasized consistency and the fact that your interface is just going to be one of many interfaces with which users are regularly interacting so when in doubt always try to follow common practice, not necessarily because it is better as such but simply to avoid confusing your users. In any case, there is no reason to worry specifically about “natural” inclinations (as opposed to learned ones).

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