Hamburger & fries please

Hamburger icon illustration Image sourced from Demac Media

Rather than it being confused with the synthetic pixel-based rendition of a hamburger, why don't we leave the humble hamburger alone to be the yummy-scrummy-juicy-running-down-the-side-of-your-mouth-and-hands experience it is. Oh alright, I'm being a little silly but I too am not overly convinced about its use these days – particularly when it's used as a one-size-fits-all navigation solution. Luke Wroblewski has written a thought-provoking article recently entitled “Obvious Always Wins”. He starts his article by saying…

It's tempting to rely on menu controls in order to simplify mobile interface designs – especially on small screens. But hiding critical parts of an application behind these kinds of menus could negatively impact usage.
— Luke Wroblewski

Instead of the usual for or against arguments with regards to the ol' hamburger icon – (both have valid points to make by the way) – Brad Frost revisits the Priority+ Navigation Pattern. He reminds us that it's essential to find the balance between accessibility and unobtrusiveness when it comes to navigation. This navigation pattern exposes the most important links and tucks the remaining items behind some form of “more” link. I also like what he says with regards to "navigation is branding". Navigation being critical to your brand presence on the web. If used well, at a glance, it can give a user a snapshot of what you're about and what you offer.

While sweeping the navigation under an icon frees up space, it also removes a crucial opportunity for branding. Navigation doesn't just provide wayfinding for users, but also communicates to users what features and services the experience provides. For a company like Squarespace whose brand name doesn't exactly convey what they do, exposed primary navigation can help potential customers better understand the services they provide.
— Brad Frost

Websites like The Guardian have done a pretty good job at implementing this type of navigation pattern as well. I reckon it’s certainly worth some serious thought and consideration.

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