Main site change
February 13, 2012

You have likely noticed by now that the left and right columns on the main site were swapped. There's a simple reason for that. I've been reading for a long time about the natural path a person's eyes follow when viewing a site. I've also been reading within Google's help pages that it's important to switch up design elements (such as the orientation of columns) to determine which layouts get the desired response.

The new setup is an experiment. People tend to look toward the left of the page first, which will allow them to see our latest featured content no matter what page they first view upon arriving on the site. In general, the tendency is to ignore content on the far right side of a page. Because our left bar is narrower than the right bar, the effect of the new design is that the left content calls attention to itself (as it should, to encourage more traffic to reviews and such) but the right column also pops out more and is more comfortable to read.

I realize that the experience can be jarring for people who have been viewing pages on the site for years. It took me between 15 and 20 page loads as I browsed the site before I adapted to the change, but now I quite like it. I hope that you'll give the change a chance and see how it impacts your browsing experience. It will likely remain in place for at least a few weeks to give me time to determine what impact (if any) it has on our traffic.

Edit: For whatever reason, pages now seem to load faster than they did previously. I like that.

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