Should you be using the Hamburger icon for your website navigation?

Another probing question from AMA in this blog post… well, ok, maybe not a pivotal decision but your website navigation is pretty important, and the arguments to and for the hamburger icon have been raging for a few years now.

The hamburger icon looks like this: Hamburger Icon You’ll certainly have seen it before, and most likely in an app or on a mobile website… but while it’s traditionally been used for these purposes, we’ve seen an increase in its use on desktop websites over recent years too.

So should you be adopting the hamburger icon or one of its counterparts for your website? And if so, why?

Why should you be embracing the Hamburger?

A look around the web will turn up plenty of opinions on the hamburger icon, but personally, we feel it’s something to be embraced – and here are three reasons why…

1. It’s been around for over 3 decades on PCs (credit to Xerox) – nothing lasts that long unless it genuinely works.

2. Different devices – as more people use smartphones and tablets to access websites, awareness and understanding of navigation has increased – and when you’re building a website from a ‘mobile first’ perspective (which you should be!), your navigation automatically translates from one platform to another. It’s now accepted that this form of nav icon will be found on all types of websites.

3. User expectations – the hamburger icon is familiar to most internet users, and when it comes to apps, it’s pretty much expected. People love familiarity.

Alternative website navigation icons

There are other tasty treats to use as navigation tools too, and each has its own benefits, depending on your users, type of website/service/functionality and your target audience – following the food theme, they are:

  • Kebab menu
  • Meatball menu
  • Doner menu
  • Double hamburger menu
  • Bento menu

Menu Image

Choosing the right icon(s) for your website relies on a lot of factors (including those mentioned above), so it’s best to get some professional advice on this (call us for a chat!).

Other things to consider…

The main thing to bear in mind is that most web users are as sophisticated as the devices they use these days – although, of course, there are always exceptions.

Most visitors to your website will know where to look for navigation options, understand that other delights live ‘below the fold’ or on different banner/carousel screens – and know to click, swipe or scroll accordingly.

They also understand that websites may look and function slightly differently depending on the device they’re using – although if you’re targeting much older users, you may need to be a little more obvious and offer some direction.

So while essentially the hamburger icon and its close cousins are generally accepted as effective website navigation tools across all devices these days, always remember to consider your audience – and advice from the experts is always recommended when looking to update your website and apps.