Where’s the Burger?

No matter how much a person reads, attends seminars, or talks with professionals, some things just happen to slip by.  Well…. that statement may or may not be true, but I am going to use it as my excuse for a concept that slipped by me.

It happened a while back when I used my iPhone to check out one of the websites we were testing. Once there, I could not find the site’s menu and asked, “Where’s the menu?”

“It’s a hamburger menu.” Randy our creative director answered as if that would explain everything.

Rather than ask for more information, I googled “hamburger menu” to find an explanation.  At the top of the list was our local Burger King’s menu, followed by the menus for other hamburger places. So I expanded my search to “website hamburger menu.”

To my relief, the very first article detailed a controversy whether or not to use hamburger menus on a website.  I felt even better as I read through it and found that the writer was trying to make a case for not using the three bars, or hamburger, as the icon for the menu. No one, he thought, would associate three stacked bars with a menu.

I wanted to agree because less than a minute earlier I was exactly the person he was talking about, but once exposed to the concept, I thought the idea was icon genius. It is like the triangle for Yield, the skull and crossbone for poison, or the envelope for email. It only takes one exposure, one use, to cement the idea in your thoughts forever.

Yellow Yield Sign Clipart   Clipart Panda   Free Clipart Images  File:Skull and crossbones.svg   Email envelope outline shape with rounded corners free icon

That was months ago.  Now I notice the three bar icon everywhere, as well as variations of it.  For example, Apple is using two bars instead of three, and some sites use four.  My guess is that the icon will never be one bar because that could be mistaken for minimize.  And I think there needs to be a strong rationale to use more than three.  

The hamburger menu has grown beyond mobile sites and is now featured on some full display desktop sites.  As a lover of icons, I think that’s great!

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