Once a week the hamburger place down the road has a $10 hamburger meal deal so it almost seems like a waste of money not to get a hamburger. 

But those aren't the kinds of hamburger menus I'm talking about today!

We all enjoyed this article recently from the Red Booth blog "Why We Banished The Hamburger Menu From Our iPhone App

The Hamburger Menu is probably one you're familiar with even if that's not what you call it. Three horizontal lines that sit in the top left or right corner of a mobile website or app and slide open to reveal the main menu for the website. On the Redbooth blog Rachel Kumar (cool surname, btw) is talking specifically about the hamburger menu within their mobile app and as of this time the Redbooth website still uses the hamburger menu when viewed on a mobile device.

That's not a criticism by any means. It's a long time since I've built a mobile site without a hamburger menu and the new Jack Marlow responsive website we've got in the works... has a hamburger menu on small devices.

But I think that the issues Kumar raises in her article are well worth thinking about for mobile websites as well as mobile apps.

I've always considered the hamburger menu to be a fine standard solution to having a menu on a mobile site. With limited space, why not collapse everything together? The icon has become pretty standardised now... And is a standard feature of Bootstrap the framework we use to streamline development of our responsive websites.

But recently I've noticed a worrying trend: hamburger menus on full-sized desktop websites. 

I'm seeing more and more of these - gorgeous full sized images or videos and navigation hidden behind those three little lines.

And suddenly I realised that the hamburger menu which I had no problem with - thought was a fine solution - and was willing to put up with on innumerable mobile sites and apps. Is actually really annoying, unintuitive and frustrating.

My colleague Simon pointed out that it's much easier to lose a hamburger menu on an app which is generally designed around a small number of tasks... but then we got to thinking about whether the sorts of websites our clients need and the sorts of websites we build could be as focussed and streamlined as a purpose-built mobile app.

In the early days of putting together a website I talk to a surprising number of people who tell me they don't want their phone number on the homepage of their site. Or their opening hours.

"We want people to read a bit more before they call us," they tell me. Their logic is that if people have read more information about the company they'll be an easier sale by the time they find the phone number.

It doesn't work like that. Your visitor who is looking for your phone number won't be happy they've read your mission statement or looked at a photograph of a smiling director. They just wanted your number!

When we hide menu items behind a hamburger menu I wonder if we're committing the same mistake as the people who want to bury their phone number at the bottom of a sales page. 

I think the limited screen-space on the mobile version of your website should become an opportunity to think about what your website is really for - what your visitors are looking for and what it is that will turn your visitors into customers.

We haven't finalised any designs yet but we're very excited about alternatives to the hamburger menu. Here at Jack Marlow we're big fans of Font Awesome and we're thinking about tools to allow administrators to use icons for menu items.

What do you think? Is the hamburger menu a permanent fixture in our mobile lives or can we do better? We think we can!


comments powered by Disqus