When it comes to WordPress 2-column themes, people seem to fall into one of two categories: left sidebar or right sidebar.   Which do you prefer?

I’m not sure which is better, but in browsing through my 2-column WordPress theme gallery, one of the first things you’ll notice is that theme designers seem to prefer releasing themes with a right sidebar.   Is this a coincidence or do theme authors find that they get more downloads with a right sidebar?

I couldn’t tell you for sure, but I know that most “A-list” bloggers use 2-column themes with the sidebar on the right, so I suspect that this has something to do with the trend.  I know from my personal experiences that I prefer a right sidebar because I feel it looks better and creates a much more friendly experience for readers.

David of CyberCoder argues that people that have advertising on their websites should use a left sidebar for their 2-column theme.   His argument is that heat maps show that people read from left to right and your advertisements are more likely to get noticed on the left side.  While this is probably true, most advertising these days seems to be moving away from PPC advertising and more towards direct advertisements.   This is why the few theme designers that offer 125×125 banner slots on their themes are getting a ton of downloads.

So, what do you think?  Why do you prefer to use a 2-column theme?

Kyle Eslick is WordPress enthusiast who took his passion for WordPress to the next level in 2007 by launching WPHacks.com as a place to share hacks, tutorials, etc. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleEslick!

  1. David Cooley says:

    Hey Kyle, I think this was mis-quoted.

    “His argument is that heat maps show that people read from left to right and your advertisements are more likely to get noticed on the right side”

    I think things get noticed more on the left side.

  2. Kyle Eslick says:

    @ David – Yes, you are correct, though it was more of a paraphrase. 😀

    I have updated the post with what I meant!

  3. skarld says:

    Historically, I think navigation began on the left because it was more intuitive, but switched to the right for SEO.

  4. Tao says:

    I also read about the “left to right heatmap” thing.

    I also admit that people seem to be going more for the 125×125 ads too.

    I would be interested to hear of anyone’s experience of having a site with lots of traffic with Adsense placed in the sidebar on the right and then swap the code to show it on the left and then note the earnings difference after.

  5. David Cooley says:

    skarld, That is similar to what I was trying to point out in the original post.

    The SEO issue was originally to put the content first, which is on the left, but, it is pretty easy now with CSS to place it on the left and still read the content first. Which give you the best of both worlds, design and SEO.

  6. David Cooley says:

    Tao, I have run test on left and right sidebar with Adsense. I found Adsense did better on left, however, with that said. PPC typically is not as good in any sidebar as in the body.

    Over a year period, Top is best, Bottom is next and then Middle of page, all on left edge.

    Here is an example of a good page for me. It is a custom Tag page on a Music site.

    Eric Clapton

  7. Tao says:

    @David

    Thanks for that information. The site looks good with the Adsense well integrated too!
    Well done and keep up the good work!

  8. Marc says:

    I don’t mind the sidebar being on either side but it must go well with the theme. A right sidebar seems to give more preference to content rather than the ads and the links so that is what I use.

  9. Stephen Coley says:

    I agree with David when it comes to people reading left to right. Where I differ is that I think it is more important for content to get noticed first. I know we would all like to make a little money with our blogs, or at least break even.

    Here is my logic. If the first thing your visitors see are ads, they might click on an ad and get you some cents for that day. On the other hand if they see the content first, read it, and enjoy it…they’ll come back. Which gives them more of an opportunity to see an ad that pertains to them, and click it. And since they’re now one of your loyal readers…this might happen this week, and the next, and the next.

  10. Salvatore says:

    Right sidebar: I don’t want to turn my head when I read a post.

  11. Ben Tremblay says:

    Yes, it’s all about the “left to right” thing, but that can be interpreted two very different ways, depending on your intention.

    I’m sure ads get noticed more on the left … because they snag the readers’ attention every time eye movement darts to the start of a new line of text.
    They get noticed more because it’s aggressive. Ok, fine, then let’s call it “assertive”.

    My angle is different: I want my readers to have, if not “a really pleasant experience”, at least a break from being manipulated and poked and snagged and grabbed at. So all my sidebars are on the right.

    All depends on what a person wants to do!