Coin toss web design (or some Greywolf feedback)

My SEO pal GreyWolf suggested we move the Guide Note from the right hand column of the page (see above) to the left hand column (see image below) above “The Mahalo Top 7.”

Ironically, Jon Hicks first design for Mahalo had the Guide note in the left hand column but we moved it to the right hand side because of feedback from our user labs. It seemed that folks skipped past the Guide Note thinking it was an advertisement. We also thought folks would want to get right to the links.

However, looking at the two screen shots you can see this is a very difficult decision for us. The Guide Note looks really good in BOTH places. If you’re in “search mode” you might want to skip the guide note and prefer it in the right hand column. If you’re in the “consume content” mode you might want the Guide Note in the left hand column.

Like many decisions when building a web service there is no clear answer… in fact, both answers could be right. So, you’re left with a coin toss. We tossed the coin and put the Guide Note on the right, but I’m starting to feel the left hand column.

Maybe it is because our Guide Notes are getting better. This would be the THIRD time we’ve changed my mind on this if we change it again… which I’m totally fine with. I think part of my thinking is based on the fact that the Guide Notes are getting better and better.

Left Hand Column Pros/Cons:

  • Pro: Shows off the human element to users
  • Pro: Differentiates us from Google/Yahoo/Ask/MSN
  • Pro: Helps educate users
  • Pro: According to Greywolf this will help search engines understand the page (so, SEO reasons)

Right Hand Column Pros/Cons:

  • Pro: Gets people to the search results quicker
  • Con: Works against search engine optimization
  • Con: Some people might think the guide note is an advertisement

What do you guys think? Comments are open (please use your real name, be nice, and of course be honest)

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