The Ballarat hamburger cart is a Ballarat icon, but it’s not the icon I’m talking about. There’s another hamburger icon appearing on responsive mobile websites. You're probably using it without even realising it.
UI (User interface) is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. User interface dictates how you use a website. The operations you undertake to navigate your way and the control you have in achieving what you want to do. The experience you have using a website is UX (user experience).
The goal of user interface design is to create an easy, almost intuitive process for the user. We access a website on a variety of screen sizes and good user interface takes this into account.
The arrival of responsive websites has resulted in some common user interface patterns. The hamburger menu is one of them. It may make a lot of websites look similar but it helps users navigate a variety of sites with more confidence.
Case in point, the hamburger menu. Ballaratfood.com is website designed by Alphaville. Ballaratfood.com is a website with a high proportion of visitors using smartphones. It’s a site where we like to try out new design ideas and functionality. The website has a minimal design layout, with large quality imagery. We decided to use a hamburger icon instead of a menu across the top of the screen.
A traditional menu clutters the valuable phone screen real estate. The hamburger icon is a functional alternative for navigating throughout the site. To keep the site consistent between all portals, we implemented the hamburger icon on the tablet and desktop versions.
The hamburger menu is a three pronged icon that is the subject of much controversy in the world of web design. It is also referred to as a side menu and a navigation drawer. The humble hamburger has polarised the design community. The anti-burger camp claim they hide a site’s features by relegating them to a corner behind a nondescript icon.
Is the hamburger icon an example of poor user interface? Or are we underestimating people’s capabilities and intuition? User feedback informs us about the way people interact with the site. Most people will touch or activate the icons and elements on the screen. They understand that all elements have a purpose on contemporary websites. A great example of this is the use of the logo as a home button.
Once you touch or click a mouse on a hamburger icon a selection menu becomes available. Upon their second encounter of a hamburger icon a user's intuition kicks in. And thus an icon comes to represent a system of navigation.
My go to UI tester is my Mum. She is an infrequent internet user so perhaps she is not our prime target audience. Once I pointed to the hamburger and she activated the site’s options, she got it.
As the design community debates the arrival of the ubiquitous hamburger icon. I declare it a clever design solution. Never underestimate the human ability to adapt, especially when interacting with the technology. What's your thoughts on the hamburgers either the icon appearing on websites or the edible variety? I happen to like both.