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Image by Apesara
Whether you use a 3 column layout or a 2 column layout, you have to choose which side you want your content on, and which side you want your sidebar on. Left or right? Which is best?

As always, the answer is; it depends on your blog.

Why Have It On the Right?

  • Western readers read left to right. When scanning a page, we will scan left to right (And top to bottom). Put your sidebar on the right, and the first thing a reader will scan over will be your content.
  • Many people still use 800×600 resolution. When designing your theme, it’s tempting to work with a 1024px wide layout. The extra space is great for the majority of your users.

    However, a good few are still on 800×600 monitors, and will have an annoying horizontal scrollbar to work with. If your content is on the left, they will not have to scroll to read it. The scrollbar will only be needed to see the sidebar.

  • Your blog will look like a blog. As a blogger, I would rather read an article on a blog than on a regular website. I love the personal nature of blogs, how they’re written by people who are truly enthusiastic about their topics, and the social interactions possible. Most bloggers will feel the same.

Why On the Left?

  • Western readers read left to right. In the same way as above, readers will see the left side of the page first. If you blog for profit, your ads may be more important than your content. Put your sidebar on the left so that readers eyes have to drift over them.
  • The eye tends to focus on the center of the page. With your content on the right, the headline starts closer to that center than it would if the content was on the left. The result is that it is easier for the reader’s eye to skip straight to the content.

    This is more true for minimalist sites, which don’t have other attention grabbing elements to distract the natural eye movement (For example, Astheria)

  • Matt Harzewski has an interesting idea on how different types of sidebar content could influence the decision. Read more in Right vs. Left Sidebar.

Sidebars that are mainly navigation should go on the left because it feels more natural to look for navigation there. If you have a lot of navigational links, it might be a good idea to put them in a sidebar.

Conclusion

In most cases, the strongest argument is for the sidebar to be on the right. Putting your content first is paramount for most of us, and I want my blog to look like a blog.

However, every design is unique, and different designs have different requirements.

Priority for the adverts or ultra-minimalist designs are two such situations, but there are many more. Depending on the style and graphics in your theme, a left sidebar may feel better. And if it feels right, it usually is right.

Which side is your sidebar on? Did you consciously put it there, or was it a natural decision?

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