The hamburger button is fine, it's your content strategy that is the problem

Posted on June 17, 2014

In the web world right now there is some serious love/hate for what is referred to as the Hamburger Button.

That little three lined icon that is used to replace all navigation, and sometimes even search, at a mobile level.

"That little three-lined button is the devil." -

Calling an icon 'the devil' might be a little strong. I'll let you be the judge of that.

The 'problem' that the hamburger button is 'solving' is lack of screen space on a mobile device. The hamburger button is a place to shove that huge navigation list once you run out of screen space. And because Google and Facebook use it, shouldn't all users know what it is already?

Maybe the user just doesn't care...

So far, the most common approach to responsive design has been to take your existing content, plop it into Bootstrap, use their built-in responsive navigation solution (hamburger button), sit back in your ergonomic chair and take in how great it feels to rule the internet. You're a god.

Except... Stats are showing that when it comes to Hamburger vs Menu, everyone was just fine interacting with your desktop menu, but no one seems to even notice that hamburger button exists in your responsive site now. Your user interaction with your navigation is dropping. And that might be a problem.

I bet no one ever gave a shit about your navigation, and the hamburger button is just making that apparent now.

If a user was really trying to accomplish something that they needed to do, and it was on your website, a silly little hamburger button would not hold them back. They would find it. Users make content work for them even if it is not as we intended it to work.

Develop a content strategy

So what is it that users are trying to accomplish on your site? What are your goals? Why do you own a web site?

Whatever the answer(s) to those questions are, make sure you have useful and usable content to support it, and make sure that that content is upfront and in the users face regardless of device. Everything else? Go ahead and dump it into that hamburger button. If a user needs the content, they will find it. Or even better, add Google search tool.