To kill, or not to kill the hamburger, that is the question

I like to eat hamburgers and even turkey burgers. But we’re not talking about burgers that would make Jules Winnfield salivate. We’re talking app and mobile web experiences that have become the virtual junk drawer.

Thanks to Luis Abreu the conversation about the value of the hamburger has kicked up again. I don’t want to rehash what Luis has written. But in summary Luis suggests that the hamburger has become the place to stick all of the leftover stuff that couldn’t fit elsewhere.  Once you have relegated a feature to that area you run a significant risk of your users never finding it.

Many “big brands” consider themselves excluded from the discussion. Why? Take a look at the examples used by Luis? Facebook, Twitter or IRC chat are not going to be a strong sell to a Fortune 1000 company. The notion at those organization many times is that “we’re different” or “that might work for them but we have many more products/services”.

What to do then? How can a large corporate entity that isn’t a tech giant in social make sense of the UX pattern? How can consensus be built to avoid this pattern? Is this another blog post talking about a bunch of stuff that doesn’t apply to a corporate gig?

Stakeholders need to be reminded that mobile web/apps should not be treated like a website. Our websites have grown heavy with bloated keyword rich content, ‘sexy’ imagery, features and functionality that attempt to capture a long tail user. Repeatedly reminding stakeholders that mobile is a tiny screen where customers will view content in 60 seconds or less is going to be crucial in building a great mobile experience.

Companies may need to break the “concept” into different applications. This may sound like blasphemy, but it’s not unusual. Chances are you do it on the web already. Microsites are used all the time. But is anyone other than Facebook or Foursquare breaking up their apps? Yes!

ESPN
There are 15 apps available for iPhone. They have made 7 of those apps available on the iPad as well as one iPad only app. That means ESPN, the “World Wide Leader In Sports” has 16 applications on iOS alone. Of these only three and a half use the hamburger menu. Couldn’t they just combine these into a “mega app”? Maybe but is anyone else doing this?

Ford
Ford has 16 apps available on iPhone and 9 of those work on iPad. They also made 8 iPad only applications. You might be able to argue that two of these apps have a hamburger menu. These two apps to have the icon, but it is presented in a different way than the typical location in the top left corner.

Others Examples
Rolex (4 apps, no burgers)
Amazon (15 apps, 4 burgers)
AT&T (40 apps, a few burgers)
Coca-Cola (40 apps, a few burgers)

Summary
In short, do not let the “hamburger menu” be the cure for all of your ills. There are ways around using this approach. Other large companies are doing it and so can you. If your direct competitors are lagging behind, champion a user centered approach that fits you user approach.

Next time we’ll explore some Pros and Cons to this approach and try to make some more sense for killing the hamburger menu. Sure it may be much easier to include a junk drawer to pacify stakeholders, but what about your users? Do you want to give them an easy experience that they keeps them coming back? Or do you make it a hassle that they despise?

http://lmjabreu.com/post/why-and-how-to-avoid-hamburger-menus/
http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/24/before-the-hamburger-button-kills-you/

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