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I have a horizontal menu on the top of a web page (pretty common) and I was having a debate with a friend about the preferred and most logical layout of the menu items (centered or left)

He was showing me this site as an example where left would be the default and preferred layout and also used the example that most desktop software (office, etc) has its menu left aligned.)

In my mind, having it centered horizontally makes more sense as a better layout.

Obviously we are trying to take into account that people have very different sized monitors.

Is there any "best" answer here or is this just preference? The examples I am looking at are full page websites (like this one)

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I am not sure this is a UX issue and not a design issue, however, consider the space the logo takes at the left and the sign in/out of the right before aligning the rest. –  Danny Varod Feb 22 '12 at 19:25
    
Wireframes? Screenshots? –  dnbrv Feb 22 '12 at 20:12
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'd personally try to investigate this bearing in mind that people read online following the F pattern. In my humble opinion, if the menu is centered it breaks the F pattern into a T pattern forcing someone to expect more center-aligned content below.

As a natural habit (in the West), people read from left to right. I'd prefer left-aligned menu, so using an F-pattern scan, someone should be able to quickly glimpse the horizontal menu.

It's also true that most websites (or even operating system UIs) left align stuff in toolbars.

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Menu line: For the horizontal menu alignment on the center of buttons, forming a group/menu, is supposed.

Revealing element: Based on Reading direction from left to right for english language, Geshtalt principles of grouping & some table alignment rules left alignment is one of possible things.

Here's an example of megamenu from Novell

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