Testing the burger menu from a User Experience POV
The burger menu is shown as 3 lines above each other. It is popular in mobile devices but more recently, desktop websites have adopted this design for the purpose of a minimalist look. It does help that this was popularised by giant web companies such as Google and Facebook. However not all web designers nor users are a fan of this trend. The simple reason being that this is not yet universally recognised by all users, as such you alienate many users who do not understand that the burger menu is in fact, a navigation bar.
I have read many usability tests on this topic including from Peak Usability and from Curve. The results are quite surprising. In simple terms, some people realised it was a menu however the majority were baffled and did not understand it was a menu, and not only that but they seemed hesitant to click the icon to check and this resulted in the users browsing the homepage more to look for the navigation.
To further test this some assistance was given to the users by adding the word Menu next to the burger nav icon to help users recognise the nav bar. This resulted in a much more positive result and the majority of users recognising the purpose of this icon. So does this tell us that for those who aren’t well versed with the Web, we should cater for them and still display “Menu” next to our burger icons?
At the moment it seems clear that there is no global understanding of what the burger menu nav is yet, however is this necessarily a bad thing? As demonstrated above, despite what could be described as poor UX due to the users having to search for the navigation menu, it resulted in the users browsing the homepage more. Now if you would like your users to read more whats on the homepage rather than click away, this could be an advantage. Afterall, ikea does not simply give you the item you want, they make you view the rest of their store, strategically. Of course there are drawbacks to these, traditionally we know users like to initially browse the nav menu to see what the site is about and what if offers, the burger menu does not initially display the main headings/pages to the site.
I can only imagine that as mobile devices continue to increase in its usage for the Web, users become more familiar with this menu. Before long, the nav menu offering a simplistic look and more room on screen will be the standard, not only for mobile devices but perhaps for desktop websites also.