Left vs. Right-side Navigation: Which Big Sites Use Which?


I’m thinking about redesigning my theme again and I’m considering a few key design options: single vs. dual sidebars, and, if I go with a single, which side to put it on.

First I started reading about the prominent opinions on the matter but quickly realized that I preferred the “what are people actually using” approach. One of my favorite blogs is Daring Fireball, and he uses a single sidebar on the left, but I’m sure there are other brilliant sites that do something different. So I decided to look at some big sites and do an informal tally.

The Sites

Of course, even deciding what to sample is a big problem, so I decided to start with with a top-25 list of blogs from ebismba, which was a top Google hit for “top blogs” and then just hit a few others that I though were noteworthy because they focus on design.

  1. Huffington Post: three content panesThis is what I call the modern style of content display, where you don’t really have a pure division of content between a main area and a sidebar, but rather use multiple main content areas–usually with some doing more text and some doing more video, etc.

  2. TMZ: single sidebar on right

  3. Engadget: single sidebar on right

  4. Gizmodo: top and left nav

  5. Mashable: single sidebar on right

  6. Techcrunch: single sidebar on right Unsupervised Learning — Security, Tech, and AI in 10 minutes… Get a weekly breakdown of what's happening in security and tech—and why it matters.        

  7. Gawker: top and left nav

  8. Lifehacker: top and left nav

  9. BoingBoing: right nav

  10. Daring Fireball: left nav

  11. Daily Koz: two right sidebars

Meh, I’m not really getting much out of this it seems. The one thing I can kind of see is that pure nav on the left is pretty rare, so I guess that’s something. ::


1 I’ve always found left sidebars to be really intuitive because you first pick what you want to do then you do it–>flowing left to right. But at the same time it also seems logical to give people content first if they come directly to an article of yours, with navigation to the right of that.

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