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Web users spend 80% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 20% viewing the right half. Adhering to design conventions will help maximize users’ efficiency and company profits.

In previous research on horizontal attention, we found that, on the web, people disproportionately spend much more viewing time on the left half of the page versus on the right half. Since that article was published in 2010, the web has undergone significant changes, yet this finding holds true.

In our most recent round of eyetracking research, we gathered data from more than 120 participants completing open-ended, web-related tasks. To determine where people direct their eyes most frequently, we looked at the X & Y coordinates from over 130,000 eye fixations and counted how many of these fell in the different areas of the screen.

In our initial study, we used a 1024×768 monitor. For this round, we used a 1920×1080 monitor, which stretched viewing patterns toward the right.

Should you deviate from convention, understand that it is a risk which may jeopardize the effectiveness and persuasiveness of your content. Users will look for information where they expect it to be in a conventional layout. If that content isn’t there, the consequential search they will embark on will increase the amount of work and time to find information. If people decide they can find the information more quickly elsewhere, they probably will.

In short, if you wish to beat the competition, ensure that your site wins out on usability. Allow your users to be successful. Successful users accomplish their goals; and supporting user goals is the most important part of accomplishing business goals. Better usability and adhering to conventions is a time-saving and, most importantly, money-making strategy.

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