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Here you can see my today chat history:

enter image description here

Yeah, the blue colored are mine.

Why these are right aligned?

Is it because of most people are right handed or earlier chat app implemented this way?

I'm also expecting links for research papers that provide complete answer.

marked as duplicate by locationunknown, Mayo, Majo0od, Community May 11 '17 at 15:38

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  • 2
    omg i never noticed this! your question going to be popular – Nicolas May 10 '17 at 14:33
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    I have no research to back this up (hence it's a comment rather than an answer) but the person you are talking to is presented in a way that makes it the most easy to read - whereas it is assumed that you already know what you've said so that can be presented in a less easy to read form just to differentiate the two sides of the conversation. – Andrew Martin May 10 '17 at 14:38
  • the question is about why the text right aligned or why you always appear to be on the right? – Dimitra Miha May 10 '17 at 14:41
  • @DimitraMiha why it always appears on the right? – Jivan May 10 '17 at 15:36
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    Because if it was left aligned, it would have to go to the left, and in a conversation, you're trying to distinguish what is yours and what is other people's chats – Majo0od May 10 '17 at 18:05

The main focal point of the chat UI is incoming message and most of the users are used to read from letf to right. That's why incoming message position is at left side and our chat is at right side.

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    oho niraj dai, glad to see u here :) I just keep posting stupid question like this. May be oneday i have great question :D – Jivan May 11 '17 at 15:30
  • @Jivan this is also interesting question – Niraj Shakya May 15 '17 at 12:03

The below opinions could primarily apply true to right handed people

The primary goal in any chat/conversational interface (digital or even art) is to differentiate between the two parties. Conversation happens in real life between two or more entities (well, even self chatter banks on duality I would say;)),and the purpose of the interface would be to facilitate that depth/space to mirror our mental model of separation or the feeling of being different individuals. Separation also helps in easy scanning of the entire conversation.

  • Let's go back in time and trace the original inspiration behind the chat/conversational interfaces we have today. Best and closes example, in my honest opinion, that capture conversations are the Comic strips.

These comic strips have a big cultural imprint and we associate with them. In most of these, you will find the "question" or the "initiator" to be on the left side and the "response" marked towards the right. Question, here can be compared a incoming message vs the response which is the outgoing message. Hence the right alignment of the outgoing message, which is the user himself/herself.

By http://michelesworld.net/dmm2/lulu/new.htm, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21969490

  • Flow & Cause/Effect - A conversation is perceived as a progressive action. It builds on the last message. So assuming the person on the other side said something, putting the user's message on the right satisfies a mental model that the conversation is moving ahead. Also, since the Send button is generally positioned to the right most, the effect of using it, which is the user message, appears closer to the point of cause, when placed right. http://uxmovement.com/buttons/why-ok-buttons-in-dialog-boxes-work-best-on-the-right/

  • Eye tracking patterns - If we look into the Gestalt's and 'Z' eye pattern research, both suggest the exit points towards the lower right. The entry being the top left. Hence the notion of incoming message (left) and outgoing message(right) gets established/recognised mentally.

Also, without any research backing me, to a right handed person, things towards the right in a boxed environment seem closer to self, and hence right UI alignments mimics that to help us perceive those messages as ours. Gut feeling speaking :)

Sources of images:

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Lulu#/media/File:Littlelulu72.jpg

2) http://uxmovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/left-to-right-mapping.png

  • I don't agree with that dialog box. The ordering in that doesn't matter, and has been refuted time and time again. The problem with that modal you showed is causing both actions to have the same weight... Which is a HUGE no no when trying to get people to drive towards a primary action. Read here: nngroup.com/articles/ok-cancel-or-cancel-ok – Majo0od May 11 '17 at 15:36
  • Agree with your comments @Majo0od. Thanks for pointing that out. My intention was to point towards a progressive intent and a mental model where we pre-fill things outside the boundaries of the viewport. – Amit Jain May 12 '17 at 5:51

I need to check if there is any research done on this, but in my opinion, it could be based on the way we read English - Left to Right.

In a conversation my chats are my own thoughts and I may not want to read it. The incoming messages are more important to read - so they get the appropriate reading style.

Personally I think it's because naturally when reading text we do this from left to right. (I'm aware that's not the case in all languages).

If you structure a text conversation let's say as Question and then answer. You don't read the question first. Combine this with our style of reading left to right and what you have is the senders message on the left and the response on the right.

It makes sense to read previous comments from the person sending the content and then proceed to read your response on the right.

Of course that's just theoretical and perhaps i'm over analysing but it would seem logical.

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