As I know, all SE sites inherit current global layout, namely the right-hand sidebar and the left-hand Q/A column.

From my point of view, however, the left-hand sidebar is significantly better in that sense, that it improves my concentration on the main text flow. It happens because the text lines start more close to the center of the monitor, and I scan through the information slightly easier than in the case they start from the left part of the window.

So could it look for example:

enter image description here

It is probably next to impossible that the design would change so globally, still the discussion and critics on this idea is welcome.
Apart from the fact that it is so "by design", what can be telling against implementing the sidebar on the left?
I can think only of the disadvantage, that the ads can be too colorful and make an even more negative effect. But the latter could be tweaked just by adding more space between the sidebar and Q/A section.

Optimal solution would be in my opinion to make Linked and Related side section on the left, because they are useful and not so colorful.
Notifications and hot questions would be better to have on the right side, since they are too contrasting with the background (like the yellow featured note on the screenshot).

  • If treat a downvote as "no, on the right side is not better", then it's a comfort :) – Mikhail V Feb 3 '16 at 4:08

Not everybody browses full-screen on a large device, or wants to. For example, many tablets don't have the ~1300px needed for SE's full width. And many developers split the screen between a browser and an editor. Since a web page that is too wide for the window it's been given loads from the left side by default, your plan would push content out of view, forcing users to scroll on every page. With the sidebar on the right, the only thing that's lost is some secondary content.

SE isn't the only site that uses this style of layout. If this happens to you a lot, you might need to re-evaluate your choices in browser size and placement. If it's just SE that bothers you, you might be able to write a userscript to swap the elements. But I very much doubt that SE would change its design in this way.

  • The argument for a small window width (less then ~1100 px) is correct. But if we take only big enough screens? Also I don't agree with "splitting the screen" argument. I personally use Alt+tab more and always try to keep my current text closer to the center of the monitor. If I still want to split 2 windows without overlapping, I place the one I work with on the right side. And the browser has a horizontal bar just in case I want a particular view inside the website. This is how I work. – Mikhail V Feb 3 '16 at 2:34
  • @MikhailV you work a certain way. Please try to keep in mind that you are not everybody. Lots of people do things in lots of different ways. The site needs to work for all of them. And if you've ever had to use horizontal scrolling consistently on a site, you'd know how badly that works. Short of an actual responsive design, the current design works well enough for most people. You would need to show that yours works better, and works enough better to be worth the cost. In the meantime, you're better off seeking client-side solutions to address your preference. – Monica Cellio Feb 3 '16 at 2:41
  • But I agree, I can solve this through some tweaking, with Stylish Firefox plugin for example. So I just increase the left margin with a user style. But it requires learning CSS and not everything is controllable. – Mikhail V Feb 3 '16 at 2:42
  • In my case it is not a problem, just interesting aspect for a designer. I noticed that majority of sites uses left sidebar which always seemed to me logical. – Mikhail V Feb 3 '16 at 3:12
  • By the way, you've made me even more curious about the case with reduced window size. I have made the browser window now ~800 pixels and realized that I can't reach the top-right menu part and search box, which makes me think that there still must be some minimum for the window's width anyway. – Mikhail V Feb 3 '16 at 4:31
  • @MikhailV related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/273397/162102 Yes, search and "ask" disappear off to the right (the latter not on all sites) and I wish they'd do something about that. I search and ask questions way less often than I load new pages (questions, question list, etc), though, so having to scroll for those functions is less bad than having to scroll for every single page. – Monica Cellio Feb 3 '16 at 4:36

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