‘The right aspect of a web page has a stronger impact on our mind than the left aspect’ is a notion adopted by the advertising world, as I recently learned from one of Steve’s comments.This made me look at the real estate on the web.

For safety, I recently switched to gmail because I lost all my archived email from my apple mail box after innocently agreeing to update the mail box.

Let us look at one of my gmail threads:


Of the total width, the leftmost 16% are dedicated to my archiving, next come my gmail message occupying 60% of the real estate. The right aspect, 24%, contains ads that reflect the content of my message. Emailing with Hanneke van Oosterhout about her grape picture, the ads on the left talk about oil paintings:


As another example of real estate on the web, let us look at one of my favorite news’papers’ on the web,the Financial Times, ft.com:


Here, 51% contains the news that I want to read, not centered, but offset to the left.

I am not complaining. There is a larger percentage of news coverage on ft.com than in the hard copy of the New York Times that I read in my local library after work. I don’t have a hard copy available right now, but my recollection is that the entire right hand page often consists of an ad and additionally, there are ads on the borders of the left hand page.

How do I react to this visual manipulation? My eyes immediately focus to what I want from the web. In gmail, my eyes are automatically directed to the 60% of the coverage, not centered but somewhat offset to the left. In the ft.com, it was more of a challenge to learn to filter out the flickering pic occupying the 35%, supposedly most important right aspect of the page.

What is your reaction to this visual manipulation?