Should I move my sidebar to the right so that the content of the blog loads first?

21 Comments

Isn't it possible to change the source order but keep it positioned to the left? (thinks "I'm so behind on CSS2")

i can't speak too much to the technology of CSS vs DHTML vs. whatever. But from a readability point of view, I'd look to splitting the sidebar and moving to a three column format using a 5 or 7 column grid (to borrow a term from classic print design). To be sure if most of your readers are reading in full screen on a 17" or bigger screen, the content portion of your site becomes weigthed heavily horizontal. this means more characters per linear "inch" or "pixels". The more a readers eye has to stay on the same line, the harder it is to read and results in less comprehension and retention. But if you have more readers using a 12" powerbook, this is a problem you don't have to solve. So try to keep the reader in mind and design the site accordingly. The code can be cleaned and tweaked to load as you wish. The true objective should be to continually (and measurably) improve readability.

food for thinking...

Anita is correct; you should able, without too much hassle, to reorganize your code so that your main content loads first, regardless of which side of the page contains the sidebar.

(And yes, I'd love it if you'd do this!) ;-p

Mark Pilgrim has a brief tutorial on this very subject in his excellent series Dive into Accessibility.

Here's the relevant tutorial.

Oops, the above-referenced hint is geared toward folks who use tables for layout, and of course we aren't still using those silly things...

So modifying your code will be even easier...

Lose the sidebar--nothing of use is there anyway, at least in the top part of it. Just put it at the bottom or make a link to the stuff and put it on another page.

Or how about this: Make some CSS/XSLT stuff so we can move it around at will. :-)

I think you should go ahead and move the sidebar to the right.
That would relieve the regular blog visitor from having to wait.
And anyway, keeping it left-aligned has no advantage.

Why don't you just try it for a day and ask how people like it? For blogs, I think sidebar on the right is more traditional, but people are already used to seeing on the left. Only way to tell is to try it.

I say leave it on the left - it's just *right* that way... nav on the right would, I predict, see a lower click through rate... (alhtough, maybe thats good?)

I say "yes" for two reasons, one of which you've already stated. The second reason being, it's nearer the toolbar, which means I have to travel less if I want to choose any of your navigation elements (or so suggests a usability/design article I read years ago, of which I can't remember). 'Course, that's in direct conflux with Pete, but hey, who the hell am I? ;)

This left-right thing isn't going to turn into somekind of liberal-conservative argument is it?

I've got my sidebar on the left and it comes after the page content in the source. Lemme know if you need help doing the same.

One more reason to make the bar load after the content; right now your site is close to impossible to view on a Palm. Takes forever to load the side content and once it loads the main content is *way* below the fold. The sidebar winds up being on *top* of the content.

But yeah, no need to physically move the sidebar. The quick and basic on how to do it with CSS.
1- wrap the whole sidebar in a div
2- place the div *after* the main content in the template
3- use CSS to position the sidebar on the left, you'll probably need to use an absolute position.
4- you may need to wrap the main content in a div and position it absolutely as well.

Many hours later, I realize I said "toolbar" when I meant "scrollbar". Sigh.

Yes and no. No because for the reason you give, you could just rearrange your page and keep the column on the left with CSS (I think the code from my blog is simple enough to show that).

Yes because there is less need to scroll horizontally if the window you use is too narrow.

+1 for right :-)

I'm trying to do so on my weblog,too

No. You shouldn't. I have mine on the right, and I called it first. Everyone who has theirs on the right is a copycat.

yes, I think it makes sense to do that. esp. as more people begin reading weblogs on mobile devices. They will want to see your latest and greatest first :) (as short bits of content that don't require a great deal of attention span, weblogs are the perfect type of content for reading while on the go or in between events)

Vote no because when page loads, moblog photo appears front and center briefly on broadband, then rest of page loads. It's unique and attractive.

moo!

Definitely on the right.

I do it that way, so it must be the right way!! :-)

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