When to Hamburger for great Website User Experience

mobile hamburger menu

How mobile design features are impacting website user experience

If you are not familiar with the term, a hamburger menu is the three-lined image that represents a navigation menu on a mobile device – see image accompanying this post. The metaphor has started to leach into website navigation even when the website in question is not displayed on a mobile device. Other design concepts borrowed from mobile work very well and we’ll cover that in a blog post soon, but with the hamburger I am not convinced it is a great idea for website user experience.

For some websites, like Currys, the navigation switches to a hamburger menu at 1024 pixels. 99% of visitors to a website operate at 1024 pixels or higher but before misleading you, I should say that only 6% are at 1024 resolution. So perhaps 1024 is the right [place to switch to a hamburger if we are all agreed that it provides a better user experience. Where Curry’s is concerned I am not sure it does as on a large screen we see far more ‘blue’ and far fewer controls. Search now takes two clicks to operate rather than one and the same goes for other functionality.

Marks and Spencer’s have gone with a hamburger menu as a permanent replacement for the full menu at every resolution. Like Currys a search query now takes an extra click to initiate and the menu has dispensed with mega drop-down and so multiple clicks are needed to get to the product pages. Yes the website looks good and the design aesthetic is an important component of website user experience but should it compromise ease of use?

We have written about M&S’s new website design previously and I don’t want to become an M&S basher because I think it is very brave to try alternative designs and to lead in this area. Without leadership like theirs everything would look the same (a lot of it does in online retail) and innovation would be far slower. However, in usability testing we still find some users that are unable to get back to home if there is no “home” link provided because they aren’t unaware of the practice of linking the logo image to home. This being the case I wonder what the driver is behind going hamburger early or completely as it surely can’t be to enhance website user experience.

If you would like to know more about how to deliver a better mobile user experience to your online consumers then get in touch. You can call free on 08000 246247 or drop us an email at hello@ux247.com.

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