Hamburger Icon Pattern- Unleashing it In & Out

Navigation has always been a key component of every website design and development project. It’s not surprising to find the industry biggies investing a great deal of time and money into finalizing the right navigation menu for their corporate websites. One such innovative pattern that has been successful in making it to the navigation menu of every renowned website is the ‘Hamburger Icon”. As a simple three-bar icon, it has become a popular convention for indicating the navigation menu. hamburger icon patternHigh-end companies such as Starbucks, Google and Facebook have already employed the ‘Hamburger Icon’ patterns in the mobile version of their websites. Intuitive nature of the ‘Hamburger icon’ pattern has often remained a popular topic of discussion in the UX circles. This is a blog that will be highlighting the ins and outs of the ‘Hamburger Icon Pattern’ for web designers who’re intending to embrace the trend but are reluctant due to the false rumors surrounding the same.

What’s the need for a global navigation menu?

The global navigation menu that appears on every page of a website serves 2 functions:

  • It allows users to switch between two-level categories, irrespective of their current location
  • It ensures that users not entering through the homepage can also get a vibe of what all is being portrayed on the website

There are a number of websites which have started putting global navigation categories in a drop-down menu. One such example is WHSmith, a renowned British retailer who has listed the product categories in his e-shop via a Department drop-down menu instead of a visible navigation bar.

Hamburger Icon Pattern- A positive beginning

With the release of the Hamburger Icon pattern, a group of developers found that the same was mandatory for maintaining a perfect user experience as well as a high website conversion rate. It was believed that the icon didn’t create any distraction from the main task for example, filling in a form etc. And that’s not all, with the hamburger icon, the users gathered an incredible flexibility of using the links as and when needed.

Hamburger Icon- Benefits you’ll love to avail

Just like any other icon, Hamburger icon serves as an excellent means of conveying brand personality via color and style. Being a visual representation of an object or idea, Hamburger Icon makes the web pages eye-catchy and functionally rich. With all the importance attached to GUI(Graphic User Interface), Hamburger Icons come with a suite of advantages as mentioned below:

  • Being compact enough to allow tool-bars, Hamburger icon saves space on the web pages. Thus, you can display ample number of icons within a relatively small space.
  • Being large sized, Hamburger icons can be easily touched in a finger-operated UI.
  • Being fast to recognize, Hamburger icons have the capability of gathering the attention of targeted audience.
  • Hamburger icons enhance the aesthetic appeal of a web design by huge bounds and leaps.

Hamburger Icon- A universally recognized web design icon

Today, only a few icons enjoy the reputation of being a universally recognized icon among web designers. It is the mere absence of a standard that affects the adoption of an icon over time. Web designers cannot reply on an icon that has the same functionality every time it is being encountered. Thankfully, there’s the 3-line ‘Hamburger” icon that’s been used by a majority of web designers who need to represent the main navigation menu.

Text Label- Why an icon needs it?

Well, in order to overcome the issues faced by every icon, it is important to have a text label alongside the icon. This text label clarifies the meaning of icon in the respective context. For navigation icons, labels are very critical and you can’t rely on hover to reveal the text labels. The reason for this being that there will be a considerable increase in the interaction cost and also the text will fail to translate well on all touch-enabled devices.

Hamburger Icon- Should you test it?

For Hamburger icon, testing is the key. You can either opt for user testing or A/B testing for determining whether your design is working perfectly, post the incorporation of the Hamburger icon. Studies conducted regarding the website conversion rates after hiding navigation menus reveal that a clearly labeled button can gather the attention of targeted audience. It is also being suggested that the hamburger icon labeled with the word ‘MENU’ and surrounded by a border has received a whopping count of 12,900 visitors and 331 conversions amounting to a hike in the conversion rate by 5.7%. In contrast to this, designs with a plain menu and a border has witnessed around 12,660 visitors, 347 conversions and an overall improvement in the conversion rate by 12.9%. Last, but definitely not the least, designs with a single menu excluding a border have witnessed merely 247 conversions and a fall in the conversion rate by 22.2%.

Ending Thoughts

A clearly labeled menu works wonders for the traffic of a website. Hamburger icon adds charm and elegance to the navigation menus of websites, making them easy-to-use and highly eye-appealing.