In defense of the hamburger menu
There’s been quite a bit of chatter in the design community about the use of what we call the ‘hamburger menu’. There’s been a bit of a polarizing, political rift when talking about it. For those not familiar with the hamburger, in short, it’s meant to toggle a menu or list of destinations within a site, program, or app where visual space is limited. We may all be able to blame Xerox back in 1981 for the first deployment of the icon (and funny the linked article site uses a hamburger menu also, with a different image of one. I digress.) I can remember discussions turning to arguments when designing sites, and I was on the side of not using it and instead trying to come up with something to replace it. The problem is that there’s no good icon to replace it with, and users are learning because it’s become widely used. The best we’ve all been doing is instead calling it what it is… “Menu.”
There are countless variations of the button:
In the web world, you started seeing hamburger menu’s much more when mobile devices started gaining traction and responsive websites started getting developed. Static sites would often use tabs and dropdown menus on cursor rollover, but of course on mobile devices, there was no rollover functionality, not to mention much less visual real estate to put a tab. Go to salesforce to learn more about these technologies.
So, where are we now? It’s 2016, and all the examples in the gallery are recent. I’ve concluded the hamburger is alive and well, cooking to a more well done than a rare and utilized in some form just about everywhere on the interwebs. Younger generations who have all grown up with technology and the internet have grown and learned the use of the hamburger. I don’t see it going anywhere, and just embrace it until someone else can figure out how to represent a menu. In the meantime, we could just use this I just created:
Next up, we tackle the search icon… a magnifying glass.
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