I’ve been asked a couple of times why the web site has menus on the right instead of the left (or both). Whilst it’s certainly not the only site to put them on the right, there is a specific reason – I’m left-handed. Over the years I’ve noticed how my eyes naturally look first to the right. If you’re left-handed and have never noticed this, give it a try. Look at a page and make a conscious effort to notice which direction your eyes naturally drift, even if only for a split-second before you automatically correct them. Despite a lifetime of reading books from left to right my eye-balls still want to start from the other side of the page (sometime I wonder if learning Arabic would make them happier). I put all my shortcuts on the right-side of a web page ‘cos it is the quickest route for me to access them. So, in a world where most stuff is designed for the other 90% of the population (roughly 1 in 10 people are left-handed), from a design perspective this site focuses on my world – the 10%. Hmm, maybe having to continuously adapt to stuff designed for ‘the others’ leads to a natural tendency to challenge conventional wisdom…

There are a couple of exceptions to my left-handedness. I played hockey ‘normally’ (i.e. right-handed like everyone else) and I have always used the mouse right-handed. The first time I experienced peoople using the mouse left-handed was when I worked for an engineering company who had a high propertion of left-handed people (most of the engineers). It had never before occurred to me to try and I never could get the hang of it. At the same company, I was told by one of the left-handed engineers that, whilst 1 in 10 people are left-handed, 1 in 3 technically minded people are left-handed. I’ve never discovered if it is official, but it was certainly true at that company and during my time at Microsoft there were quite a few meetings where nearly half the attendees were left-handed, even had 100% left-handed attendance once.

Using the mouse with your right-hand can have productivity benefits for left-handers. It means I can take notes with my left hand whilst navigating a computer screen with my right 🙂

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