We know that users in bi-directional (bi-di) locales (speakers of Arabic and Hebrew) for example read/write text from right-to-left (RTL) and read/write numbers from left-to-right. hence we have bi-di unicode algorithms and rendering techniques (HTML DIR="RTL", for example) to detect locale or language requirements and flip the screen. But...

In the case of mobile users, would flipping a screen on a mobile device impact usability or user experience in the hand? Assume a screen layout with an action header on a simple app:

Save Cancel

For example, a right-handed user would expect a short finger gesture to cancel an action on an english screen. What if the screen was

Cancel Save

Any impact?

How about swipe gestures in the hand? Surely a swipe to the left is a swipe to the left, regardless.

Why ask? Wondering if we need a responsive design NOT to flip certain pages on small hand-held devices. Any thoughts on this? Anyone come across this issue or know of research?

For an example of bi-di, see http://dojotoolkit.org/reference-guide/1.10/dojox/mobile/bidi.html. Now imagine a right-handed (for example) user with phone in one hand wanting to turn on Airplane Mode. Which is easier? LTR or RTL screen.

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    It would be nice to see some screen shots of Arabic or Hebrew applications just to get an idea of what they look like on a page. I am sure many of us have no previous experience and it would be a good discussion to have.
    – Michael Lai
    Aug 31, 2014 at 23:37
  • Example of bi-di: dojotoolkit.org/reference-guide/1.10/dojox/mobile/bidi.html See the first screens. Now, imagine a right-handed user, for example, using one hand to say activate the the airplane mode. Which is easier - the LTR or the RTL version?
    – uobroin
    Sep 1, 2014 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


Very cool question. You're right, left or right handed individuals would expect to see different factors to gesturing. I think it would be more of an preference based on the end-user. I usually use both my hands to operate or gesture on a mobile device while it's in portrait. Kinda weird, but that's my preference... when it works :P. In landscape, totally the opposite.

Would love to hear more from the community on this. Again, great question!

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