Yes. You did read that title correctly. The “Hamburger” has skulked around websites and GUI’s for over a decade. Over the past several years it’s solidified itself as the standard navigational icon. Like the compass needle icon claiming “Map/Location”, the Hamburger is here to stay (pictured below).

Many people don’t actually refer to it as, the hamburger icon, opting for the classier, “nav icon”. The icon denotes a hidden menu. When clicked or tapped, the menu will reveal itself and the user will be allowed to interact and navigate through the menu. Why all the fuss over a menu button? Why does it deserve its own post? Usage, my dear Watson.

Several of our clients had no idea what this icon did. In fact, a lot of people don’t. It’s not their fault. They don’t spend a lot of time online. There visitors might know, but they might not either. People in particular industries don’t interact with technology much. Enter responsive design. These days, the hamburger has invaded desktop dislays. Instead of being reserved for touch screens and mobile devices, this little guy has eaten every expanded menu. There is an argument for hiding the menu on desktop and there is an argument against. We will lay them both out before you and you may choose the one that best suits your needs.

Hamburger Desktop
As sites are moving to a more interactive and engaging, removing a large band of text is helpful. Doing so allows your visitor to focus on the salespitch of the landing page before navigating away. You wouldn’t watch a movie with the menu up the whole time. Websites should be experienced and move beyond point and click. Most views come through mobile devices, so desktop doesn’t need to be catered to.

Menu Bar Desktop
The hamburger isolates potential customers who are older and do not know what the hamburger icon is for. It adds a redundant click to the desktop website for no purpose but to “look cool.” Desktop is still a heavy traffic area and they should be catered to just as much as mobile traffic. Adding the click would only annoy desktop users and add an unecessary layer to a website. Having expanded desktop navigation makes desktop navigation easy for all.

I find myself in the menu bar desktop camp. I use the hamburger for tablet as well as phone, but the desktop doesn’t need to have its menu hidden or have an extra click. The desktop websites I typically see the hamburger icon on are flashy and tend to have video backgrounds, giving a nod to the hamburger icon. In the end, it’s what’s right for your user that matters. If your audience is older or your navigation is extensive, do not use the hamburger on your desktop site. Otherwise, it’s up to you.