When browsing through websites, you’ve most likely come across three horizontal lines on the top right corner of the webpage. While not present on every site, these lines are commonly referred to as “hamburger menus” by UI designers.
What is a Hamburger Menu?
A hamburger menu is a navigation tool that opens up to a side menu and is used for both mobile apps and websites. The role of these navigation bars is to help you easily maneuver anywhere on a website in a user-friendly manner and without having to scroll up to hunt for navigation.
Hamburger menus were first introduced more than three decades ago by a man named Norm Cox. He made the burger icon for Xerox Star, which was the world’s first graphical user interface. The purpose of the triple bar icon was to let users know that the button contained a list of items. However, despite it being around for quite some time, it wasn’t widely used until 2009 and has gotten a lot of criticism over the years.
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Pros and Cons of Hamburger Menus
Before we get into the examples, let’s first explore the pros and cons of using hamburger menus.
- It provides quick secondary access: Users can quickly access desired pages without having to scroll through pages.
- Recognized by many users worldwide: The sign is common and can be found everywhere from mobile games to web pages to apps.
- Makes the webpage appear organized: The hamburger menu helps with maintaining focus on the important web features you’d like users to see. It also keeps the web page clean.
- Lower engagement: When users can’t easily access a web page, they’re less likely to click on it.
- Makes pages seem less important: Because all the important information is accessed on the first page it’s less likely for users to navigate through the menu.
- Hard to reach: Hamburger menus can be hard to reach or press in some mobile designs.
Tips for Making a Good Hamburger Menu
Here are a few quick tips for ensuring your hamburger menu is identifiable and effective:
1. Use Animation
A hamburger menu without an animation that turns the three horizontal lines into another shape is rarely seen. Put it to good use.
2. Use a Custom Icon
It’s important that the menu remains recognizable to ensure a great user experience. Using a custom icon helps many users identify it.
Mobile users prefer the vertical sliding or the horizontal navigation bar while computer users prefer a more detailed menu with tabs of content, rows, and vertical links. Designing your hamburger menus to be responsive will ensure users are presented with the ideal menu option regardless of the device they’re using.
10 Worthy Examples of Hamburger Menus
What follows are 10 high-quality options of hamburger menus currently available on Codepen to choose from. Why start from scratch when you don’t have to?
Menu Toggle by Tamino Martinius
See the Pen Atomic Hamburger Menu CSS by Alex Coven (@alcoven)on CodePen.light
Pure CSS Fullscreen Navigation Menu by Brenden Palmer
See the Pen Hamburger Icon CSS3 ONLY Animation by Dawid Krajewski (@DawidKrajewski)on CodePen.light
Hamburger Menu Alternatives to Consider
If hamburger menus aren’t speaking to you, there are some alternative options worth taking a look at.
1. Scrollable Navigation
This type of navigation tool is normally used for longer lists. Making the list scrollable allows users to easily move side-to-side. For example, it’s mostly used for news websites when users are expected to scroll through news categories, and also works well for online stores and music apps.
2. Tab Bar
Tab bars are considered to be the simplest navigation option with the main navigation options easily visible. For example, if you have an app that has a limited number of web pages/features then this is definitely the way to go.
Some things to consider with this navigation include:
- The home page has to be in the first tab and the rest should follow according to the level of importance.
- The tab bar allows no more than five navigation options.
- It’s important for at least one of the options to be highlighted and active.
- Use icons with labels unless for actions that are common and easily recognizable.
3. More Option Tab Bar
The ‘more’ option tab bar is most suitable if you have more than five top-level destinations.
The extra option can work well as a dropdown menu. To improve navigation you’ll need to correctly prioritize the options for users to have at least four to five on the screen at all times.
4. The Progressively Collapsing Menu
This type of menu fits on the whole screen and shows as much of the navigation as possible. Everything else is put under the “More” button. This provides a better user experience than the tab bar design.
5. Full Screen Navigation
The full screen navigation solution takes up the whole homepage for navigation purposes. Users then swipe to access additional menu options as they scroll up or down.
This type of navigation helps designers organize huge amounts of information without overwhelming the user.
When picking out a hamburger menu, make sure you pick one that’s most suitable for your website or app. Making navigation within an app seamless and user-friendly will encourage users to engage with it more than once and even attract new users. Just make sure you test the speed and efficiency before implementing. But then you should be good to set your visitors browsing. Good luck!