The Great ‘Hamburger Menu’ Debate

Hamburger Menu

Is it time to put to rest the popular abused and overused side menu, navigation drawer, or more popularly known as the ‘hamburger menu’?

It is easy to forget why the hamburger menu was invented in the first place. A simple solution to save space. As screens became smaller, designers/developers had to find a ways that would allow their app to take up as much space as possible, sometimes at the expense of sacrificing navigation. The hamburger menu does creates a cleaner, more aesthetically appealing visual experience, but it isn’t the right move for all sites and applications, and now there are more growing concerns over usability and discoverability have hyped the hamburger debate.

Many in the industry believe that the hamburger menu is not intuitive for users and not an efficient menus of navigating through the context of an app because it requires that people first click the menu before being able to click the link or icon that takes them to their intended destination. There’s also the argument that hamburger menus decrease discoverability of features because everything they contain is hidden by default.

Notable apps like Facebook and Spotify have recently switched back to main menu tab bar navigation after extensive testing with users and their interactions with the hamburger menu.

If you should consider using a hamburger menu in your next project, proceed with caution.

Make sure it’s obviously clickable and user friendly, indicate it is a menu, maybe just write ‘menu’ next to it or below the icon.

Make it useful and not just a place to hide something, do not hide the main navigation links.

Make sure it is really needed, maybe pair it with strong call to actions.

Avoid it on the desktop for the sake of discoverability.

Make for sure you test for feedback from as much users as possible.

No one knows if the hamburger menu is really the devil, another design trend, or it is here to stay. But it can serve a purpose when used properly and in the context it is meant to be applied in. By all means, the hamburger menu is not the solution to all our UX problems and it is up to designers and their knowledge to determine whether the use of the hamburger menu is the best option for what they are trying to achieve. Approach use with caution.