Left vs Right Sidebar on a Blog?

As you might have noticed I’m doing a small (or is it big?) test on swapping the sidebar from the left to the right.

I’ve had it on the left since the first day and I’ve never actually asked what people’s opinions are – so here’s your chance!

What are your thoughts on the right vs. left sidebar?

Thankfully with Standard Theme making the change was as easy as choosing a setting in the options:

Just a single click!

So what do you like better? What have your experiences been? Is this better for TentBlogger?

Love to hear your thoughts!

  • http://suburbiauncovered.com/ Matt Powell

    Obviously I’ve seen great designs with right side bars but in my honest and uneducated opinion yours looks better on the left. I feel like your design has a better balance with the left side bar… my .02 since you asked. :)

    • http://www.benterry.com Ben Terry

      I have enjoyed the sidebar being on the left, but I think I have just become accustomed to it being on the left rather than the right.

      @Michael makes a great point that having it on the right side does help with keeping people’s focus on the content! However, I would be curious to see if your ads would then do better on the left sidebar than on the right. Though that may make no difference.

      For my site, I always prefer using the right sidebar for the fact of content first.

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        cool ben, thanks for this.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      it did balance nicely… but, this design isn’t permanent…!

      :)

      http://john.do/lame-evolve/

  • http://www.mikekey.com Michael Key

    right side, keeps eye focus on the content first.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks michael!

  • http://www.kmhkreations.net/ Duncan Harmsworth

    Personally, for blogs I like to go with the right column sidebar. Since people (at least English speaking) read from left to right, I prefer to read the content first, and then check out all of the ads/other articles/etc.

    However, the left is the more traditional choice. The priority organization of the sidebar items (top to bottom) tends to be more important.

    This layout looks great! I love all your illustrations!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i like your shoutout to tradition… yes, we’ve seen left sidebars for some time!

  • http://jcisonline.com J.C.

    sidebar juke haha!!

    I don’t know if it’s just because my mind knows it’s supposed to be on the left because it has been or what, but left is grand.

    But mostly i read in feed without your look, unless I’m commenting.

    Great stuff as always. Thanks for your resources.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      this made me seriously #LOL.

      feed lover!

  • Michael

    For me, the sidebar on the right is preferable. In a way, it’s like turning the pages in a book (unless, of course, your language is one of those that reads from right to left). I find that sidebars on the left distract me from the main content.

    I am also right handed. I am curious if that has anything to do with it. My instincts say it does. Any left handers out there that prefer sidebars on the left and do you think being left handed has anything to do with it?

    • http://benjaminbrandt.com Ben Brandt

      I’m left handed and I also like it on the right better :)

      When I came to your site today I noticed the change and for some reason it just seemed to fit. Felt much more balanced and “fuller” if that means anything to you. Just my gut reactions.

      But I don’t really care where the sidebar is, the content will keep me coming back every time!

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        ben, i trust my gut a lot. thanks for this.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      wow. i’ve never thought much about the left-right hand usability…

  • Ken O’Shaughnessy

    I typically find it easier to look at blogs where the bar is on the left, because it puts the data I’m looking at closer to the center of the screen – I don’t have to move my head as much. On the other hand, I don’t have the same issue with Tumblr, because it is formatted in such a way that the data stream is ALWAYS in the center – it’s one of the things I love about Tumblr.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      do you prefer tumblr blogs?

  • Chris Neiger

    I like the sidebar to be on the right and the content on the left. It’s just a logical flow for the eyes/mind to start reading the blog posts and headlines first. Your blog rocks either way though.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks for this vote chris!

  • http://getbusylivingblog.com Benny

    I’ve always liked the sidebar on the right. However I did notice you had yours on the left but it never bothered me enough.

    As for mine, I always keep it on the right.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool. thanks benny!

  • http://www.geekfori.com Matthew Snider

    It all depends on why you are blogging. If grabbing ad money, then the left, if it’s getting your content out there than it’s right.

    There are a few tools out there that show where the majority of folks click and it’s the upper left side of your website. With that said, I always go right unless I am trying to make an extra buck.

    • http://pathunstrom.wordpress.com Patrick Thunstrom

      “It all depends on why you are blogging. If grabbing ad money, then the left, if it’s getting your content out there than it’s right.”

      This sums up my opinion on the matter pretty succinctly. I prefer right hand sidebars lately, and I’d never really considered why. Tentblogger is one of the few with a left hand sidebar that doesn’t bother me. (I think it’s just Standard Theme, it’s so awesome no matter how you do it.)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i actually disagree with this completely and is a typical misunderstanding of CTR, click-through rates, and optimizing your monetization. you are assuming that readers click through links left to right which is categorically too broad of an assumption for every blog.

      • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave H

        John-
        I don’t think it’s a matter of readers clicking left-to-right, it’s just the natural tendency of readers to focus on the left side first. Usability studies have shown the “F” shape of where our eyes look on a web page: readers’ eyes naturally will linger on the left side of a page, and sort of trail off toward the right side of a page.

        If you want their eyes to linger on your ads, sidebar on the left. Linger on your content, sidebar on the right.

        I agree with Matthew. My two cents.

        • http://www.lookingtowardshome.com/lettersfromhome Neil @ Looking Towards Home

          I’ve seen this F-shape too. SmartViper uses a picture of it in their analysis (http://www.markosweb.com/www/tentblogger.com/ ), which was making me think that perhaps I should put my sidebar on the left too… but i like it on the right…

          If it’s all down to clicks, I guess that one way you could evaluate the difference (apart from the ad clicks) would be to see if these posts with the social sliding thingy on the right got used more – it looks like it :-)

          • http://john.do John Saddington

            you’re right – you have to define your criteria for success and for usability.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          ah, but you’re assuming that the F-shape usability studies necessarily correlate to click-through rates and monetization strategies wholesale / across the board.

          what i’m saying is that i’m experienced in monetizing sites and left/right sidebar conversions are different – in fact, significantly different depending on a number of factors, the f-shape being one of them but not a top factor as studies and a/b testing clearly show.

          “eyes linger on ads” seems logical but is not. we call this banner blindness.

          • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

            If you were going to disagree so strongly with others opinions, why did you even ask the question? Maybe you should have just written a blog post with all that information you shared.

            I’m just saying because your responses came off a little condescending when you were the one that asked the question.

            You know I love you though, John!

            • http://benrwoodard.com Ben

              I for one saw his response as a ‘response’ to a comment. I really appreciated the information. I guess everything, even a sidebar placement, can have two ways of seeing it?

              • http://john.do John Saddington

                again, to clarify even further ben, i am against using money as a strong case for right/left since monetizing blogs effectively require much much more inputs than just “grab money, put it on the left” reasons.

                i know matthew and he’s a straight-shooter and awesome. i’m sure he could provide a much more robust explanation of his thoughts.

                • http://john.do John Saddington

                  oh, and in addition, there are plenty of blogs on both sides (literally) that are crazy successful – they have done their homework and research when it comes to optimizing their monetization.

                  that’s probably the most effective cursory reason why matthew’s statement is a tad bit weak. but, it’s not an attack nor is it out of interest of hearing from the community!

                  i haven’t figured out exactly how i want to do it… so i am generally interested in hearing from you guys!

                • http://www.geekfori.com Matthew Snider

                  If anyone needs me to elborate do let me know.

                  As John said, I am short and to the point most of the time unless asked to say more!

                  No offense taken, I am actually scared of the Kung Fu john knows!

            • http://john.do John Saddington

              tony,

              i was disagreeing with the justification for right / left sidebar placement based on money, NOT on the general opinion of personal choice for left/right.

  • http://www.jeansandtie.com Jacob Bluhm

    I vote for right-side. Since I read left to right I like seeing the post content first and then the navigation.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks jacob for this!

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org Jeremy Myers

    I just switched mine from left to right on July 1 for the same reasons.

    I used to have it on the right, with great success. But I was using a different theme. Then I got the Standard Theme, and switched the bar to the left. Now after a few months of testing that, I am switching back to the right. I look forward to seeing what you find out, and seeing if my results match yours.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool jeremy. do you have some stats to share?

  • Chris Langille

    It’s funny you brought this up John, and Matthew Snider took the words out of my mouth.

    I think it looks pretty good either way, but I have spent countless hours debating this and came to the conclusion that the left is the way to go for my needs because I want people to see my sidebar first for both self and paid advertising purposes(if I ever get to that point).

    I think the 570px wide content area is big enough that people will still notice it if the sidebar is on the left, especially if you have an attractive headline, and picture at the top of your post to draw them in.

    Just my $0.02 :-)

    • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

      I agree with Chris; especially since advertising is a factor. For my site I chose the left because I almost never look at sidebars if they are on the right. I was never bothered when yours was on the left, but I did always notice when you made changes. I think I have clicked on more of your side bar stuff than any other blog I go to. Not because yours is necessarily better (let’s be honest…it is! lol) but because being on the left I just seem more likely to notice it.

      Though, this way does make the content more prominent. But we all know your content is prominent so it’s not something I’m worried about.

      My two cents, John. Can’t wait to see how the experiment goes!

      • Chris Langille

        Definitely. Also, when someone has really good content and you see that first and commit to the content first, the sidebar can become an afterthought and there goes your ad revenue.

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        great thoughts here alex. thanks for them.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      chris,

      i actually disagree with matthew snider. please see my comment above.

  • http://www.ziolowyzakatek.blogspot.com Atria

    You are definetely too effective as a blogger. I hardly find time to read your all great posts!
    On my new WP blog, when I have chosen a theme a width was very important for me: it is about 720px for a wide content, but the reason is, because I make a lot of food photos and I didn’t want it to be cramped. I prefer sidebar on the right, classic look.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool atria! thanks for this.

  • Justin Dean

    The human eye naturally starts at the top left of a webpage and trails along the right side. Content in the bottom left and along the left side is often missed. The right side is optimal. Ads get better clickthrough when placed on the right – so you’ll earn more. You can test this with your audience by looking at your analytics over a month or so… did clicks drop or go up after the move?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      justin,

      hah! you can bet i’m doing A/B testing. this blog post was to see what people though aesthetically… ;)

      ultimately i’ll choose what works best for the community and traffic!

  • http://nathanielclaiborne.com Nate

    I like it on the right and have always kept mine there. I think it helps keep the focus on the content since our eyes seem to naturally move left to right (DTS Hebrew profs would perhaps be exceptions), so it just seems more natural to me. You obviously know a bit more than I do, but I thought I’d chime in nonetheless.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks nate for this.

      i appreciate it!

  • http://www.marcomonteiro.net Marco Monteiro

    Blogging is all about Content! ppl want to come to a blog get to the content and get the hell out of there has soon has possible. So obviously if is not an Arabic Blog people read from left to right, therefore, content goes first!

    So sidebar on the right should be the way to go.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      marco,

      love your passion. considering it1

  • http://jamesbrooks.me.uk James Brooks

    I kind of liked that you were being different and had it on the left….

    :(

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ;) wah wah.

  • http://www.everchangingmedia.com Jason Bradley

    Right +1

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      haha. where’s your gravatar?

  • http://www.pulpit2pew.com Frank Gantz

    I like it on the right side. This way the content takes priority for those accustomed to moving their eyes from left to right.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool. thanks frank!

  • http://8bit.io Tom McFarlin

    right

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      #double

  • http://Benrwoodard.com Ben

    Left – just because

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      hahah. ;)

  • http://calumhenderson.com Calum Henderson

    For me it depends on what I want people to see first. If it’s the content first then sidebar on the right. But on my own blog, I like people to find out a bit about the blog before reading. So I’ve got mine on the left with a small about blurb at the top of the sidebar. Doesn’t mean everyone’s going to read it. But it does mean that people coming from Google are more likely to find out a bit about the blog rather than just reading one article and leaving. Don’t know if it actually happens like that. But I’d like to think so..

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks calum.

      definitely considering the impact via google.

  • http://findmyblogway.com Lye Kuek Hin

    Hi John,

    I prefer it on the right as i like my eyes to land on the content first then everything else.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool. thanks lye for your vote!

  • Dewitt Robinson

    Left.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      +1!

  • http://www.zemeks.blogspot.com Karen and Gerard

    It makes no difference to me. I do know though that if it’s on the right, it is less read.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      generally, yes. i think most people don’t realize that you should change up your sidebar and do a/b testing on elements. :)

  • http://lifexpresseddigitally.me/blog Brian Alexander

    I prefer the right. Just what everyone else was saying. Content focus is what we need.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ok!

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    English language reads from left to right. So if you want your content to be prominent keep your side bar on the right.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks laurinda! did you not like it on the left?

  • Michael

    I used to have mine on the left with Standard Theme. But all of a sudden I had several emails telling me that it was distracting because it was harder for them to find where to start reading the content. So I moved it back to the right side.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      how big is your audience?

  • http://karlrivera.com Karl

    I think the left side fits better. It’s aligned with your title and just looks more aesthetically pleasing!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      karl,

      you aren’t the first to say this. thanks for this!

  • http://stuartwooster.com Stuart Wooster

    I guess time will tell if the switch is good for you John by monitoring your stats.

    If your opt-in for RSS, etc. goes down slightly but engagement initially goes up that could be a good sign from the community. As you have the subscription box at the bottom you may strike gold and see time on site rise, engage go up along with subscriptions! :-D

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      yes stuart…..! for sure i’m doing some tests.

  • Joshua Chase

    I think it’s fine either way, I honestly read through my reeder so when I click through to the site I’ve already read something. I guess I prefer the right hand side bar but I’m cool either way.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      reeder app?

  • Andrew

    Personally I always prefer the sidebar to be on the right. Then again, I read this website through my RSS reader. I only come to your site to leave comments or to tweet/like/whatever your post.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks andrew for this vote. ;)

  • Darius

    I think it works either way… If your content is consistently good, and your layout is pretty clean (like Standard Theme) then people will be drawn to your content regardless.

    Like JC pointed out – I read your blog mostly via RSS, so I’m more concerned with content anyway. ;)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool, thanks darius. :) i like good content.

  • Brandon

    RIGHT…ALL THE WAY!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ACROSS THE SKY!

      • Chris Langille

        I’ve seen this like 20 times, and I laugh just as hard every time I see it. This dude was straight trippin’ LOL

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          nearly 30m views…

  • Suzanne

    For some reason I always have my sidebars on the right – it just seems to make logical sense to me. However, I’d noticed yours was different but it didn’t bother me – I liked it on the left. Having said that, it doesn’t seem as weird as I expected now that you’ve moved it. Possibly because of the advertising now being there, it being on the right makes it less of a distraction.

    Something tells me that wasn’t any help?!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      …!

      it is helpful. it is a vote… especially coming from one of the long-standing community members here…

  • http://www.simplyprudent.net Jenni

    I always thought it looked good on the left because it was different than most other blogs. :)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ah….. thanks jenni…!

      i must admit that i considered this in the beginning… you found me out.

  • http://geekfori.com Graham

    I had it on the left when I had my old blog. I’ve got it on the right for my wedding blog (http://brenna.co). Geekfori.com is on the right. I don’t know… I’m indifferent on it really. Just depends on what looks better with the specific design.

    I guess there’s a question for you John. Is it intentional that you have never styled your blog and just left it with the “standard” Standard Theme look?

  • http://www.mackrillmedia.com Jud Mackrill

    RIGHT.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      OK.

      ;)

  • http://tomjamieson.com Tom Jamieson

    IMHO, for me, I think it has to do with me being right-handed. My eyes generally look to the right first as I am left-brain dominant. It feels a bit awkward to see the ads on the right. I also tend to agree with Karl above that the ads are more aesthetically pleasing aligned with your blog title header. Just my two cents!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool, thanks tom! the design will definitely change… not sure when though!

  • Meghan

    I like the sidebar on the right. Your content is front and center, but my eyes are still drawn to the sidebar once I’m done reading. Before, I auto-skipped over the sidebar and went straight for the content without really glancing back.
    I also like the share buttons buttons on the left. They are somehow more noticeable to me now.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      excellent! i want people to share the content…! thanks for this comment!

      http://john.do/sharing/

  • Demian Seiler

    You know what is funny about this post John, is that when I got home today and hopped on your site I noticed the change to the right, and immediately without even thinking about it, moved the browser from the left side of my screen to the right so that I had the content more front and center. I realized why I did this as soon as I saw this post header and further reaffirmed my thoughts after reading this post and all of the comments. Goes to show, it is truly all about the content. Having said that, I agree that I appear to be trained to start reading based on the “F” pattern.

    Keep up the excellent work!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks demian for sharing this experience. i do this as well!

  • Sebastien

    I’ve always had my sidebar on the right to focus the reader on the content first but with your design it looked effective having it on the left and as a someone who has been reading your blog for sometime I have gotten pretty used to it. Now that you have changed the position it feels a little weird but that’s just my opinion.

    Great post, keep it up.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      we’ll see how long it takes you to get used to the “new” look…

      ;)

      think you’ll acclimate in time?

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Wow, I went out of town for vacation and missed a doozie of a conversation here, huh?
    As far as aesthetically, does it really matter? Maybe it’s just me, but if I think about my favorite blogs I really have to concentrate to remember which ones have left and which ones have right sidebars.
    My two cents is that aesthetically I think either one would be fine and dandy. I would say that factors such as the amount of ads, the arrangement of the sidebar, and the general visual appeal are way more important than left or right.
    I’m really curious to find out your results from split-testing though. I’ve wondered if maybe I’d be better with a left sidebar.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i’ll definitely share some of my results after i spend some time on the right!

  • http://timmilburn.com Tim Milburn

    I vote for right. And it has nothing to do with my political leanings :)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i like this comment. ;)

  • David Song

    I like it on the right side. I feel like I always skipped the left sidebar to get to the content. And if you believe this research, it may even be more effective? ( http://tnw.co/p6MPaZ ) But maybe it would be more effective for people to see ads first ;-)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      david,

      thanks for your opinion (and link).

      it’s a combination of research as well as experience.

  • http://www.irishmark.net Mark Robinson

    I prefer it on the right. I see content straight away and my eye is not searching for the start of the content. It’s only a split second thing but could mean the diff between a bounce.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool mark. thanks for this vote!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    I prefer the sidebar on the right because I want my content to be the focus on my blog. Unless you’re Hebrew, most Americans read from right to left! With this being the case, I want them to see my blog before seeing my ads.

    • http://www.irishmark.net Mark

      Most Americans? Are the rest of the English speaking/reading world different? Last time I checked I also read from left to right…

      • http://www.irishmark.net Mark

        Sorry – that was a but pedantic.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          whoops. ;)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cool. thanks for this eric.

  • George Dina

    The best position for the sidebar is in the right.
    I don’t want to see before the content some ads or some navigation links.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      are you a new reader here? i had it on the left for a while.

  • http://www.milwaukeemarketingservices.com Cathy Dunham

    Excellent question! Traditionally, I view the LEFT sidebar as part of a navigation element. For sites that I want to show on page sub-navigation, I tend to use a left sidebar. On the other hand (er, side), I view RIGHT sidebars as a place to “add” further information, the next “steps” or call to actions, ads or additional communication. And this is only a start…

    Taking into consideration the expert studies we’ve all read on F-zone hot spots, CTRs, cultures that read left to right and the diversity of other features, tools and miscellaneous distractants that we may drop onto banners or content areas, I feel compelled to showcase my most important elements on the left. In many instances, this would be content. Other times I may want visitors to click on my affiliate ads or to reinforce key messages or contact options. (A safe assumption is that viewers are lazy, so if delivering key navigaton on the left helps, go for it.)

    I recommend basing your final decision on your marketing strategy and what your targeted viewers want and expect. Leaving this option to a designer is kind of silly (in my viewpoint). Web Designers worth their weight in gold can enhance an architectural layout and sitemap with relevance, credibility and balance.

    When perplexed or out-voted, use A/B testing – like John Saddington, who also asked for direct feedback…

    P.S. I really like the right sidebar here – and how you’ve chosen to make it wider.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      cathy,

      thanks for this comprehensive response! sounds like you know what you’re talking about!

      btw… do you have a gravatar? http://john.do/gravatar/

  • http://www.tutorial-onlineku.blogspot.com rusman edi

    Nice Blog……