Hamburger menus are a common sight in modern web design, and work as a great illustrator of the differences between mobile and desktop web design elements. Navigation is a huge part of successful web design, and tools like hamburger menus can be very useful (or not), depending on the situation.
I’ll explain more about the “what” of hamburger menus ahead, along with some of the design principles for making this type of menu the right fit for your Calgary business’s website.
What Is a Hamburger Menu?
While the term itself may be new to you, there’s a very good chance that you encounter hamburger menus frequently in your day-to-day dealings online. A hamburger menu is symbolized by three horizontal bars stacked on top of each other, so that the resulting icon looks a bit like a tasty, one-paddy burger. The icon will typically be placed somewhere prominent on the page, often in the top right corner, and when you click the hamburger, voila, you get a list of menu options.
Hamburger menus are a popular choice for mobile-friendly websites, because they allow you to add detailed menu options without crowding the page. But there are a few drawbacks. Not every site visitor will know that they need to click the hamburger icon for more menu options, and according to the experts at Nielsen-Norman Group even people who do understand how hamburger menus work will be less likely to click than they would if the same menu options were displayed automatically.
Finding the Right Fit: When to Use Hamburger Menus, and When to Steer Clear
Hamburger menus are a convenient way to save space, and when used properly can be a valuable component of responsive web design. Space is always at a premium thanks to the varying screen sizes of mobile devices, so the option to collapse menus is a very handy shortcut. On desktop sites, however, hamburger menus often seem a bit strange, and can detract from the user experience of your website.
- While hamburger menus don’t work well for most desktop sites, the convenience factor leads many developers to include them anyway. But with all of that extra screen space, there’s little reason to hide menu options where people are less likely to find them.
- On a desktop site, you can either display navigation options automatically through your navigation bar, or use accordion-style menus that provide more description than the three little bars in the hamburger icon.
- For desktop sites, the same convenience factors don’t really apply. It’s easy to type information into the search bar to find the page you need, and there’s much more room on the screen for a detailed menu.
- With responsive web design, you don’t have to choose between two types of menus. Your site can display a detailed menu on desktop screens, and shrink down to provide a hamburger menu for people browsing with smaller screens.
Optimizing the user experience is an underrated part of website maintenance, so relying on an experienced design team will help you keep up with the changing trends of web design.
You Must be Mobile!
The popularity of mobile browsing means that web design trends will continue to cross over into the small-screen realm. But some trends are better than others. Hamburger menus are an excellent example of why, because the factors that make them convenient for mobile browsing can actually make them kind of a hassle for desktop site visitors. I’d recommend restricting the use of hamburger menus to responsive websites, where their convenience outweighs their occasional drawbacks.
Now… is Anyone Else Hungry?
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