The hamburger

The hamburger menu is a longstanding staple in the product design field. First used in the 1980s, it has become as recognizable as the Nike swoosh or the Coca-Cola script logo. It is typically used to house a website or app’s navigation on smaller screens, but can be seen on a number of desktop versions as well. There has been a lot of debate in recent time, both in favor and against the use of a hamburger menu. Should the hamburger menu continue to be one of the most widely used navigation pieces, or should it be avoided at all cost?

The hamburger vs bar

The hamburger menu, by its design, hides pages and navigation items behind a ‘click’. Because of that, user engagement (in the form of page views, page views per session, etc) can suffer. Vital information is hidden behind a 25px x 25px element in the top right or left corner of the screen – two of the most difficult places to reach on a phone screen. When Spotify ditched the hamburger menu in favor of a bottom tab bar, they saw in increase of 9% in overall clicks and a substantial 30% increase in clicks on menu items.

While it is hard to argue that a hamburger menu doesn’t limit user engagement, it is very important to recognize that reducing engagement might also mean reducing distractions. Exposed menu links can tempt users to click away and can potentially result in a lost conversion. A hamburger menu serves as a recognizable navigation that allows users the ability to go to other pages without increasing distractions. A number of studies, including this one, have found that minimizing navigation can lead to far higher conversion rates, with increases as high as 300%.

Conclusion

While it is hard to argue that a hamburger menu doesn’t limit user engagement, it is very important to recognize that reducing engagement might also mean reducing distractions. Exposed menu links can tempt users to click away and can potentially result in a lost conversion. A hamburger menu serves as a recognizable navigation that allows users the ability to go to other pages without increasing distractions. A number of studies, including this one, have found that minimizing navigation can lead to far higher conversion rates, with increases as high as 300%.

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