An Update on the Hamburger Menu
Sat Apr 12 2014
About a year ago, I wroteHamburgers & Basements: Why Not to Use Left Nav Flyouts.
Since then, a few things have happened.
- Facebook has discontinued using the hamburger menu in their iOS app.
- A few desktop websites have replaced their persistent navigation with the hamburger menu – who knows if they're actually testing it or how they're interpreting the results.
- Time Magazine decided to use it:
"No one understands the icon, let's add the word menu. The word is too small, let's add a pop-up calling it out." pic.twitter.com/Jargi7gavX
— Luke Wroblewski (@lukew) March 11, 2014
- Personally, I think user testing the hamburger menu is good enough, but these guys A/B tested it: UX designers: Side drawer navigation could be costing you half your user engagement
- This guy tested it twice: Mobile Menu AB Tested: Hamburger Not the Best Choice? and Hamburger vs Menu: The Final AB Test
- This guy also wrote about it: The Hamburger is Bad for You
Despite all of this, I still haven't seen any evidence suggesting that the hamburger menu is an improvement.
Basically it comes down to interface design patterns. Patterns rely on familiarity and emerge slowly over time. Most of the ones we use on the web today have been around for many years.
Users have plenty of new things to learn without adding contrived navigation patterns into the mix. Let's stop trying to innovate device-specific interactions and leave it to the device manufacturers.
Let's focus on the real problems
Product design requires solving many more difficult problems. For example:
- How does your product align with a user's mental model?
- How do you scale your information architecture?
- How do you make your product meaningful to your users?
- How do you reach a wider audience with your product?
Personally, I'd much rather be designing and testing solutions for problems like these.