Don’t Count Out the Lefties — The Importance of Considering Every User in UX/UI Counts

Recently, I was using an animation app on my iPad when my design suddenly vanished!

It didn’t take long for me to identify the culprit — there was an undo button on the left side of the screen, and as a leftie, it was placed directly under where my left palm sits when I’m drawing, so I had inadvertently hit it. It was frustrating, and I was annoyed that I’d been taken out of my flow. Worse, I couldn’t find an option in the app to switch the placement of my tool panel to the right side, to make sure this wouldn’t happen again. I ended up having to keep my left arm elevated on a pillow to keep my palm far away from that darn righties-only undo button.

Being left-handed, I’m used to these frustrations. With only an estimated 10 percent of the population being left-handed, I understand why products aren’t made with left-handed users in mind. I also understand that most right-handed people would never even think of how unnatural it is for lefties to navigate through a world with things oriented opposite for them. Approaching doorknobs is always a bit anxiety-inducing. Notebook bindings push into my hand when I write, and my ink often smears. I learned to use right-handed scissors long ago, and am using a right-handed computer mouse as I type this. Did you know that lefties are even excluded from most medical studies?

For lefties, adaptation is generally doable. But you shouldn’t count them out, especially when it comes to UI and UX design. For example, lefties make up about 50% of the world’s elite athletes, which should warrant an investigation of how lefties may interact differently with your product, be it a baseball glove, hockey mask, or training tool. If you proceed without exploring those differences, you’re likely presenting a bad user experience to a large portion of your audience. That experience could stick with lefties forever, souring them to future products from your brand and cutting your sales potential, even if you do eventually come up with a solution designed for them.

Ethnographic and human factors research can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to a product’s UI and UX. Ensure that you understand your users and can give them the experience with your product that you both deserve. At Daedalus, our team includes ethnographic researchers, human factors experts, UI/UX designers, mechanical and electrical engineers, and industrial designers. Having expertise across disciplines means we can solve complex problems and help clients develop great products with every user in mind — even the lefties.

Featured Image: Alejandro Escamilla, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons