The Three “Hotspots” In Your Web Browser

Do you know what parts of your web browser’s chrome get the most attention (among “average users” anyway)? The are

  • The “Back” button
  • The scrollbar
  • The tab bar

Traditionally, people have argued that you should put important elements (e.g. navigation) near the scrollbar or the Back button, as they were previously the most-used parts of the browser.

Nowadays, the scrollbar isn’t as big of a focus point, as scroll-wheel mice are fairly common. I have one, and I can’t stand using a “plain” mouse anymore.

The Back button is still used a lot, but, personally, I don’t use it anywhere as much as I used to. Since switching to Firefox a few years ago, I’ve used tabs to avoid using the back button as much as possible. If I need to keep going back and forth between a page of links and the linked pages, I just open the links in new tabs.

What does all this mean? Observe the diagram below.

As the back button and the tab bar are such major points of focus, you want to keep your logo and navigation nearby. The top-left corner is the most common place to put a logo, which is, interestingly, close to the back button and the tab bar. My horizontal navigation is fairly close to the tab bar, though not as close as ProBlogger‘s. Is it better to put your navigation above your logo, right next to the tab bar? Or is that “too close for comfort?” Would people notice it less, as the thin strip is so close to the tab bar, which the user’s eyes are quickly traveling to and from?

On Webmaster-Source, the sidebar column is not on the right just because it’s near the scrollbar. It’s there because English-speakers read from left-to-right. Therefore the content would be noticed before the sidebar, right?

Well, that’s something to think about, anyway.

  • Anthony Williams

    Navigation above the logo is easily ignored. For one thing, the slightest bit of scroll and it’s off the screen. Also, it’s an unusual place to put it — most people expect the navigation links to be below the logo — so people aren’t primed to notice it. Lots of websites show “attention maps” — the very edges of the screen are never “hot”.Oh, and English speakers read left to right.

  • Matt

    “Navigation above the logo is easily ignored. For one thing, the slightest bit of scroll and it’s off the screen.” That’s a good point.

    I read right to left, don’t you? :D I’ll have to fix that…