I am working on Search Filters for a website, similar to this example on JohnLewis.com.

The question that I would like to ask is does it matter what side the filters are, on the left or right of the content. I'm asking this because I have noticed that I keep my mouse most on the right side of the screen so it would make sense to have the filtering system on the right so it would be easer to use. Are there any studies about this?

1 Answer 1


Users read the web in an F-shaped pattern, scanning the left for links, because horizontal attention is left-aligned. They do not 'view' the web page using their mouse, so pointer location isn't really relevant. This means that for discoverability purposes, the left is a better location for important functionality. Elements in the right will have to be recognized by peripheral vision, which is insensitive to detail and colour, and so isn't great at picking out textual items like filter links (especially if those links are blue, which the eye has trouble seeing in detail).

Throughout most of the web, the pattern is to use the right column for alternative workflows and tertiary items, so you may have trouble getting users to relate the filters to the currently viewed content. If the items in the view are themselves left-aligned, you will be putting a lot of distance between your controls and their output, which will again pose problems (because closeness indicates relationship, as per the Gestalt Law of Proximity).

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    +1. Your decision really depends on how important that filter is. If it's an uncommon function used in rare cases, don't put it in the F. And vice versa. Oct 4, 2012 at 13:35
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    +1 for " They do not 'view' the web page using their mouse, so pointer location isn't really relevant"
    – Justin
    Oct 5, 2012 at 7:20

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