For those of you for whom the first thought that the word “hamburger” brings to mind is fast food – think again! In digital marketing strategy, hamburger has a whole new meaning!

The hamburger navigation tool has become synonymous with the menu. It is normally represented as a stack of lines such as the leftmost image below.

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So far, so self-explanatory. But recent research [undertaken by the group Conversion XL] indicates that the plain hamburger may now be well past its sell by date. Of the above three icons, the one that repeatedly generated the most traffic was the central image ie the hamburger with the word menu beneath it. So why is this?

The icon was designed in 1990 by Norm Cox for the Xerox Star, which was the world’s first graphical user interface. The idea behind it was that it would be simple, functionally memorable, and would mimic the look of a conventionally displayed menu list. The hamburger icon has served us well, but we are now living in a whole different world and it perhaps no longer makes sense to a new generation of consumers. This is easily overcome by the addition of the word Menu as the research showed. It has also been suggested that it could be effective for the menu icon to then fade out as the user scrolls around the site, and reappear when they scroll up again.

Whilst every individual digital marketing strategy will need to test and adopt the most effective menu icon for the products and services concerned, the research shows that its format and function should be given serious consideration and could have an impact on the amount of interest in the digital media campaign. At Xcite we have taken this on board and are using a new version of the menu icon on our new website – see below.

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We think it looks great and would welcome your feedback!