What a great way to condense all of those navigation options into one clean minimalist button: the hamburger menu! It’s by far the best way to present ease-of-use and de-complicate your nav, right?
Well, maybe the hamburger menu doesn’t deserve its navigation domination. In fact, that minimalist menu may be frustrating prospects or turning leads away.
Here’s why you should skip the hamburger menu on desktop resolutions and relegate it to mobile devices.
The History of the Hamburger
Norm Cox designed the Hamburger menu for the Xerox Star, an old desktop computer. The design resurged when smartphones started to dominate the market. At the time, the hamburger menu seemed to be the perfect solution to smaller screens with a reduced UX, and designers everywhere scrambled to smash it into the UI of websites, apps, and, really, anything that would be displayed on the phone.
For designers, this was a period of chaos. Suddenly, everything needed to be more compact to satisfy a market that was being driven by mobile devices, so, naturally, designers latched onto anything that seemed to be minimal—which caused the rapid rise of the hamburger menu.
Here’s the problem. The hamburger menu is a UI nightmare on larger displays.
Why Hide the Hamburger When You Can Have the Hot Dog
There’s a problematic trend happening. Designers are using the hamburger menu for desktop displays, and that’s the wrong approach if you’re truly considering all aspects of your prospects’ journey.
Imagine you own a software company. You’ve poured resources into creating a pathway for your prospects. Maybe they saw your ad on Facebook, or perhaps you’ve been making LinkedIn work wonders for starting new relationships with targeted prospects.
Bob is one of these prospects. Here’s his story:
Bob saw your ad on YouTube. Ah! I’ve finally found the perfect solution for invoicing. So, he follows your information scent all the way to your website, and now he wants to see some use cases or case studies on existing clients,. He’s wedging himself snuggly into your funnel. Your marketing dollars are hard at work. Suddenly, Bob starts getting annoyed because he can’t find his way to your case studies. He just wants to see how your product has worked for other just like him!
On all devices, your website header offers a logo on the far left and a hamburger menu at far right.
Bo’s on his desktop and overlooks your menu. He scrolls down to the bottom looking for links in the footer, but there’s nothing there either. After about 8 seconds, he gives up and starts a search for one of your competitors.
If only Bob had:
• Seen and clicked those three little black lines at the top left of his website;
• Watched as a primary menu expanded out;
• Visually scrolled up-and-down through the menu, clicking until he found Case Studies;
• Clicked Case Studies.
So, he had to click, wait, scroll, and click again to find your case studies. Super minimalist, right?
Sure, you could have used that straightforward hot dog style menu that laid out each and every of your navigation options clearly, but that hamburger icon makes the stock photo of the guy in the suit more visible!
As you can see, the hamburger menu is an excellent example of ignoring user needs in favor of aesthetics. It may look great, but it’s a clog in your pipeline that could be turning potential clients off. Prospects don’t want to go on a content treasure hunt; they want clear and concise options presented quickly and accurately—something that the hamburger menu doesn’t do well.
If your prospect wants a salad, don’t give them a hamburger and have them dig out the lettuce—just give them lettuce right away.
What’s the Solution?
Use IA that puts your user first. Whether that’s a simple tab interface or even the pre-2009 hot dog style navigation menu, it depends on your unique situation. If you do decide to use a hamburger menu, make sure that you clearly mark it with “Menu” or another signifier.
There are still spaces where the hamburger menu makes sense, such as on mobile, a map or on videos—where reducing screen clutter is hyper-important.
Over the next few years, we’ll see the hamburger menu scale back. It was a quick response to a market trend, and now that we can see clearly, it’s not looking so pretty.
For now, think about less condensed options such as tabs for your UI. Remember, you’ve put a ton of time and money into creating growth for your agency, don’t let your IA be the stumbling block that prevents prospects from converting.
Whether it’s design or content, your prospects and customers need to come first when the focus is lead generation. Don’t overcomplicate your website for the sake of aesthetics or you’ll turn away a percentage of prospects.
The marketing, media and technology industries are hyper-competitive, and you need every little win you can get. While removing your hamburger menu and replacing it with a more user-friendly option isn’t going to fill your funnel full of leads immediately, it removes a potential hurdle.
Don’t let unintuitive interface design clog up your pipeline—flush it out.