Cover-Option

The Hamburger is an Important Part of My Web Diet. Don’t Kill it Just Yet.

Hamburger menu bashing is a popular theme on almost every blog, worth its salt, writing on UX/UI. Thankfully it’s a debate, not a conclusion (here’s one). And the hamburger saviours have enough of a voice, for me to not feel nervous as I write this.

It Ain’t Necessarily So

Josh Constine of Techcrunch has successfully argued that the Facebook app has dropped the cryptic three-line menu bar from the top navigation and got better results. Contrarily, other research also shows that the mobile content consumer is totally aware of the hamburger menu, its functionality and its position on the phone and desktop.

It’s another matter that in its conception stage it could have been designed to read ‘ALL’, with a downward arrow, rather than the three lines.

It’s another matter that in its conception stage it could have been designed to read ‘ALL’, with a downward arrow, rather than the three lines. But for now it’s as much of a habit as the ‘pinch-to-increase’ icon on images.

When to Drop it, Move it or Keep it

Case 1. Apps or sites where the user is already signed in and has a specific content goal; like to get and give latest updates.

Netflix

Here, the hamburger can move from the left top corner to another corner or become ellipses instead (the right-left-bottom debate isn’t over yet either).

These apps have recognised the user engagement pattern and placed the two or three most important things to do on top, with descriptive icons.

Note that mostly every icon is now supported with text. If only the hamburger did that in the first place.

Note that mostly every icon is now supported with text. If only the hamburger did that in the first place.

Case 2. The user may or may not sign in, and therefore you have no way to record the user preferences and customise the experience.

The-Independent

Here, the hamburger icon is a lifeline. You cannot always successfully predict the three most important things for every user; drop it and you risk alienating many users. The fear of alienating users makes it necessary to reveal the entire bouquet at a glance.

The fear of alienating users makes it necessary to reveal the entire bouquet at a glance.

How to do it is another subject. Here are some initial thoughts.

The challenge is for the content team to make what comes under these three lines as meaty as the patty, as crisp as lettuce and as satisfying as mayonnaise (okay, that’s going too far).

Even Facebook hasn’t killed the hamburger. It survives in the tab bar, now labelled ‘more’ and packs the world inside it.

Context Matters

Icons

It’s best to first weigh the merits of each use case to your application, before we join the campaign against the delicious hamburger, or move it from the familiar top-left corner to top-right or bottom right corner, per the dictates of phone ergonomics. Or calling it another name with another icon and starting this debate all over again, in say 3 months/years.

One Comments

  • Sahil

    June 27, 2016

    The article was very helpful. Thank you.

    Reply

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