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I have two options for displaying content in a right sided slide menu but am having a disagreement with my co-founder on which to use. Neither one of us is a designer but we're trying to figure this out for ourselves (very limited budget).

I want to go with the right-aligned text, no icons because I feel like it's more natural in a right sided slide menu. To me the icons are more of a distraction than providing any real value, it's not clear what any of them mean. When the icons are included my eye seems drawn to the icon, I then have to scan left to find the meaning, which feels unnatural, especially considering the menu is revealed from the right.

His concern is that it's more natural to look top left and scan to the right, even in a right sided slide menu. He also thinks the symmetry looks much cleaner with icons and right aligned makes it look 'Arabic'.

I tried searching but couldn't find any guidelines on this type of menu. I'm often wrong about these kinds of things so I'll go with whatever's recommended.

right-aligned, no icons

left-aligned, with icons

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Have you considered testing it on Decidr? –  anaximander Jun 28 '13 at 8:26
    
This decision is obvious now but I'm going to bookmark that site for future reference, thanks. –  jan Jun 28 '13 at 17:34

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The standard seems to be icons on the left and text on the right. This way, even though the icon draws your eye, you then naturally look to the right to see what it means.

Screenshot of facebook slide-in menu with icons to the left and text on the right

Even Android menus (not on apps) have icons on the left and text to the right.

Screenshot of Android settings menu with icons to the left and text to the right

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I like this. The icons bring your eye to the top-left of the menu items where you can then scan naturally. Seems obvious now. –  jan Jun 27 '13 at 23:01

The right justified list seems odd to me. English is read from left to right and it causes a slight cognitive strain when the list isn't aligned on the left.

Whether to add the icons or not is another question. Though, The icons being right justified is odd to me as well. Conventionally, they are located left of the label. Icons are visually more prominent than text. So naturally, a user would see the icon first and the text second. The user is once again, looking right to left and there's such a big gap in the center that it almost looks disassociated as a result.

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If allowed by use cases stick to left-side for the reasons mentioned above. But if there is a need to change and move it to the right[ i had a similar case], using then justified would be the safest bet. The human eye finds its hard to go to right side of the screen, so generally if you see, feeds etc are placed there, where user look not that often. For example take facebook, you can see chat/feeds on right, the basic reason is this is not used that often.

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The most obvious compromise is a left aligned list without icons.

I'm not sure what the point of the icons is, other than to make the menu busy and confusing. Is there ever a state (tablets?) where the icons will be the only thing displayed?

For all the reasons listed already, left aligned will be easier to read/scan.

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