Consumer Brand Manufacturing Spotlight: The Left-Handed Effect

Paul left hand

Yes, that’s me in all my left-handed glory.

As part of the tribe of sinister that makes up 9% of the U.S. population (left-handers), I read Content Square’s new infographic on e-commerce user behavior (PDF) with great curiosity. Oh, sure, the study also looked at how women differed from men and young people from old, but as someone who once had a Franciscan nun put a red rubber corrective sleeve over the base of his pencil at age 9, I found the data on left-handed people most interesting.

In a world where everything from scissors to can openers to notebooks are skewed toward right-handers, I’m not surprised that even conventional website design creates some obstacles for those whom the French call gauche. So, how are left-handed people different from right-handed people on e-commerce websites?

They’re slower. They click less. And they tend to click less on right-side navigation.

How much slower? They take 20% more time to click. How much less? Right-handers click 8% more. How much less likely to click on right-side nav? 29%.

As for the other user groups, women click and view more than men. They also hesitate less and purchase faster. Translation: Women dig shopping more than men! Is anybody surprised by this? At the same time, older consumers (ages 45-64) view slightly fewer pages and have significantly longer hesitation time. Again, file that under “no surprises.” But left-handers and their special e-commerce browsing habits—i.e., slower and lower engagement? Color me fascinated!

All you consumer brands out there, just remember that on average, left-handers are 9% of your buying population, so be sure you don’t do things like bury important navigation elements on the right side of a Web page. For example, if your most profitable product is the premium cheese wheel, make that nav tab the first one on the left. In general, usability standards dictate the most important information should be on the left side of the page anyway, and now you have an added reason to do so.

I say implementing this knowledge is a victory for both left-handers and consumer brands. And thanks, Content Square, for shedding more light on the daily plight of us “wrong-handers.” Now I’m going to get some food, if only I could use the can opener in my office kitchen.

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