Reading Library follow-up
Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 19:42
martian77 in HCI

After seeing the Reading Borough Library site with its menu down the right, this is an interesting article on why the scrollbars are on the right.

Hands across the screen, Alan Dix, 2 March 2005.

The article describes some investigation into why the scrollbars are normally on the right, even though there may be good reasons to put them on the left. There is a brief discussion of the origin of the scroll bar, and some usability studies into early browser design scrolling functionality. Eventually the article concludes that putting a scrollbar on the left results in a right-handed mouse user having to 'virtually' put their hand across the screen every tiem they want to use the scrollbar. Even though they aren't really moving their hand that far, it feels wrong.

Strange that menu bars don't normally follow the same pattern. Guess that comes back to the F-pattern viewing thing.

I think you'd have to do some pretty serious user stuff to justify moving a menu bar from the left to the right. It goes against most of the conventions on the web.

Again, this ties in with thoughts on my work. The portal framework we are aiming to adopt has the fixed left-hand frame. I've had a play, tried putting it on the right, and it has the same effect as on the Reading site. It makes it almost invisible unless you make an effort to look at it. I think other considerations (like cross-company consistency) will make moving this frame impossible, but it was an interesting experiment.

Article originally appeared on Life on Mars (
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