Great menus make great performing websites

Great Menus Make Great Performing Websites

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Confessions of a Web Designer

I have a confession: I love beautiful websites. I’m one of the web designers at FirstPage Marketing (It’s me. David.) and there’s nothing more satisfying than discovering a website with an unexpected beauty and charm; when everything feels handcrafted and meticulously designed. I’ll scroll down and relish the subtle animations and HTML5 coolness. And then it inevitably happens: I can’t locate the menu. I scroll up expecting to see a navigation area and it isn’t there. Then I finally see it — the hamburger menu.

The Hamburger Menu

The hamburger menu isn’t new. It’s been around since 2014 and is an eloquent way of grouping all navigation items into one beautifully simplistic design of three horizontal lines. Any Internet surfer has seen it.

Hamburger menu image

A Beautiful Icon That’s Not So Great

Even though it’s a perfectly balanced little icon, it has a huge problem: Internet users hate the hamburger menu. What’s worse, the hamburger is proven to reduce user engagement and satisfaction.

  • On desktop, people use the hidden menus only 27% of the time
  • On desktop, people use visible navigation almost twice as much: 50% of the time!
  • Spotify ditched their hamburger menu and noticed a 30% increase in user interactions

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

By hiding navigation items under a single button the user has to search for it. If a website is going to perform well, the navigation needs to be front and center. A website’s navigation guides a viewer to product pages, information pages, company directories, or request quote forms.

Just like a good customer service agent, a well performing website needs to handhold the potential client through a clear sales path. (Only Ikea can get away with a confusing meandering flow!)

The Hamburger is Bad – Even on Mobile

When a website is viewed on a smaller screened device, like a phone or mini-tablet, it makes sense to streamline the information. So that makes it okay to hide the navigation, right? What we’re learning is that the answer is still “no.” Big sites that have the money to test various approaches have started abandoning the hamburger menu approach. The user-generated magazine site, Medium.com has gone to a horizontal scrolling navigation that is very intuitive on a touch device. Same with The Globe and Mail.

Why the hamburger menu is bad for websites

Facebook has changed their approach (within the app) to have a navigation band at the bottom of the most popular areas of the Facebook experience.

Salesforce.com, the world’s leader in enterprise sales tools has utilized their bottom navigation as a call for action.

IBM and Salesforce hamburger menu

At FirstPage, we produce high performance websites that are focused on achieving your business goals. While a website’s navigation is only a small part — often just the top 150 pixels — we know that it’s one of the most important parts of getting your digital marketing initiatives flying. If your website suffers from frustrated users and high bounce rates with little conversions, perhaps your website needs a new navigation structure. Contact us today and let’s chat about ditching the mystery meat navigation.