Right-Justified Navigation Menus Impede Scannability: Jakob Nielsen, demigod that he is, has just published an interesting alert box about right-aligned menus (something we’re guilty of). He claims they reduce readability.
Aligning a navigation menu with the right margin might look cool, but the resulting ragged left margin severely reduces the speed with which users can scan the menu and select their preferred options.
The other two problems are (1) designers using all CAPS, and (2) lack of contrast between the background and letters.
What makes this interesting is that the University of Michigan read his Alertbox and realized they were guilty of all three problems, so they fixed their menu the same day, which caused Nielsen to update this column.
An examination of both screencaps is below the fold, and it’s interesting to look at — I tend to agree that the changed menu is remarkably more readable. And this is not only when actually reading it, but it just beckons to be read more. The “before” menu is something I probably would just gloss over without reading it, where I’d be much more likely to read the “after” menu.