Conclusions: Hamburgers—can you have your cake and eat it?
“Conclusions” are my take on hot topics once they have got cold. Taking inspiration from the slow news movement. The next dead horses to be given their final flogs are likely to include: Skeuomorphism: good or bad? Does the fold exist after all? and What’s the real definition of UX?
For three little lines hamburger menus got a lot of press in the design-blogosphere. Lots of websites and apps using them, lots of people saying they aren’t all that great. As ever—tldr: it depends.
What we know:
- Hamburger menus are space efficient. This is especially useful for small screens or providing a minimalist feel.
- Hamburger menus are likely to reduce engagement with the items that are in the slide out tray (compared to having that item fully visible on the page).
- Hamburger menus have gained a significant traction and most members of the public will have an understanding of what they are how to interact with them.
- Users have to discover what is in the hamburger tray. Apps and websites use Hamburger menus in different ways and the design offers no clues as to what is in the tray.
- When (if) a customer has a learnt what’s behind the hamburger menu (has a clear mental model) then the hamburger menu does not present significant usability problems.
When to use hamburger menus:
- To save space
- To reduce engagement with a feature (settings, sign out etc.)
- Users have a clear mental model of your product (so the barrier presented by the increased need for discovery is low).
Hamburger menus work well when the items they contain are unimportant or so important that customers already know they are there. Everything in between will need handling with care.