I read a previous post on discussions about designing UI for left or right hand users, but I thought they left out an important discussion when it comes to touch and tablet devices.

For example, I would imagine that devices which require the use of a stylus (where the operation is dependent on one hand entirely) would have some setting to allow the user to select their preference, or the device itself might be designed for a left handed person. It seems like for handwriting recognition software the direction would also be important because traditional stationery do not cater well for left handed people in general.

I would like to know if there are examples of where this issue has considerable impact in a digital platform, or if it becomes a non-issue because the interface can be customized more easily for a left-handed user.

UPDATE: In the modern day and age where inclusive design is the buzz term that has replaced accessibility, it is worthwhile thinking about all the reasons why we may have limited or impaired hand function and therefore need to think more broadly about all the problems with hands in mobile device usage.

  • some of the issues with left handed writing are associated with smudging written words, less of a problem on a touch screen
    – Toni Leigh
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 17:56
  • I find the ActionBar on android to have much right-handed on larger screens.
    – Gusdor
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 11:11

2 Answers 2


Although you could improve UX thanks to a better designed UI, I think the handedness issue is mainly due to the HID (Human Interface Device).

  1. Mouse: Left-handed users may face difficulties each time the use a right-handed PC where the mouse is on the right of the keyboard.
  2. Keyboard: They haven't the same issue because both left-handed and right-handed users have the same configuration.
  3. Smartphone (small size touch screen): Some people use their thumb, others use their forefinger. Those who use their thumb are more likely to face some handedness issue.
  4. Tablet Ultrabook, AIO (large size touch screen): Since you need your one hand to hold it, and the other to touch the screen, you won't naturally use your thumb, but your forefinger.

The example you take with the stylus is a problem related to all the left-to-right writing languages. Japanese and Chinese would not face such issue since they write from top to bottom.

As a final word I would say that it is a non-issue because touch interface are insensitive to the user handedness.


This isn't really a useability issue, but the Google+ app uses a "cards being thrown onto table" metaphor as you scroll down quickly through your activity feed. It is a nice animation for right-handed people because the cards follow a person's swipe, flying in form the left. That interaction was a bit lost for me, however (being left-handed), because my thumb covers up the "fly zone".

I should add that, at least with the iPhone + iPod touch, I can reach any part of the screen with my thumb. The placement of the button and its relation to it's function matter more (even if the "back" button were easier to reach on the right side of the screen, it wouldn't make much sense over there, now would it?).

  • I agree that for mobile phone and music players handedness does not pose a big problem, because the position is linked to the function and structure of the UI interface. What about the use of gestures in a tablet (e.g. swipe or drag and drop)? Do you find the interface get in the way at all as you perform the gestures with the left hand?
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 3:04
  • I don't see this problem so much with gestures as I do with button layout. For me, holding a phone with my left hand, it's easier to reach the back button in a lot of apps, harder to reach a call to action or confirm that's typically placed in the top right corner (iphone interfaces). I notice a lot of times that my hand, in general, gets in the way of the interface. I hate trying to select text or edit messages on the iphone because my hand makes a better hand than a window.
    – Sullivan
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 14:21

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