Hamburger Menus are Evil. Right?

Let's have the discussion.

Recently I got a link to a post about the hamburger menu and usability testing:

The Hamburger Menu meets Usability Testing…

“… Great web design is about putting the customer in control of their journey, not controlling their journey. Great web design is functional and fast-downloading, not some carousel of organizational egos. The next time your customer wants a link, please don’t give them a hamburger.”

  • :100: for UX discussions! I wish Gerry would have expanded the conversation a bit more though.

I am a huge advocate of, “Don’t make me think” and decreasing the barrier to entry whenever possible, and I really like the “Menu =” (MENU + Hamburger) versus just the hamburger icon alone.

Is there a time when it makes sense to put the navigation at a low enough priority that would warrant being “out of sight, out of mind”? What about emerging standards as users get trained over time? The iOS home button could be considered a usability nightmare but after enough time, and enough people using the interface, the interface does become a standard.

If I’m focused on a single call to action on a landing page, say for a targeted marketing campaign, and my goal is to get people to sign up for something, then perhaps it makes sense to devalue the navigation. Yes, you could look at this situation as me trying to “control” the user but on a different side of the same coin, you could look at this situation as me trying to “help” the user achieve the goal, that presumably, they are trying to achieve when they reach the page.

I think this article on the atlantic sums up my feelings about this topic pretty well:

“So is the hamburger icon really the problem, or is it indicative of a broader problem with traditional navigation? It’s possible we’re projecting all of our traffic issues onto one little graphic.”

Here is another recent article that does a pretty good job of making the case for the hamburger menu in some situations.

“Countless studies have shown that when given too many options, most people are likely to choose nothing at all. One particular study found that users are actually ten times less likely to act. So by tucking away the navigation, or even only what you have determined to be secondary navigation items, you are essentially eliminating “decision fatigue” from the equation, and putting your users on the path that you have pre-set for them.”

More than anything though, I think the debate around the hamburger icon is a great initiator into a very important discussion that can only help sites.