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Hiding navigation

A few days ago, I watched a short video: Ben Callahan – Small Screen Navigation & Hamburgers. It’s well worth (the 13 minutes of) your time. That, and chatting with Rich on Friday about our upcoming talk at CTFEDS, got me thinking about hamburgers for navigation.

People still don’t get the burger; I had this confirmed during usability testing while I was at Flow. It’s more than just the icon itself, though. Us designers and developers throw it in there to free up screen space by hiding the navigation off the screen, but out of sight is out of mind for most users. It seems like hiding the navigation is the actual problem, not the burger icon itself. The most obvious (and oft-cited) solution is “fix your Information Architecture,” but that’s seldom easy, especially for something like an e-commerce site with a lot of stuff.

Another thing the video reminded me of was the value of regular, short, usability testing. It helps you find glaring problems quickly, and fix them. Then you can follow that up with a long tail of deeper testing if you have the time and money.