I've always been doubtful about the "Hamburger menu" in iOS apps. That is, until recently. I now think it's a really terrible device that used as just a lazy way out when you can't think of where to put stuff.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about... What is this side menu called that can be found in many multi-touch apps, and where does it originate from?

The more I see it the more I think it's just a dumping ground for miscellaneous items in apps.

It's a place that designers go to when they don't know where to put stuff in the app.

Take a look at any Apple app. None of them uses a Hamburger Menu.

Take a look here... http://www.agant.com/apps.php an array of amazing and interesting apps with top notch design... not a hamburger menu in sight.

Another example just sent to me http://tapways.com

If something doesn't deserve to have pride of place in your app then it shouldn't be there at all. Don't just stuff it into a hamburger menu.

There was a quote from WWDC 2013 about "Designing great apps". The guy said something like...

Find out what the primary function of your app is. Then list the secondary functions and the tertiary functions.

Make the primary function visible as soon as the app starts up. Make it look nice and make it engaging.

Put the secondary functions only a few taps away but don't make them detract from the primary function.

For the tertiary functions try to find a way to write them out of the app. Are they absolutely necessary?

I agree with this 100%. In my view the hamburger menu is a placeholder for these tertiary functions. It shouldn't exist. Apple didn't create it. Apple doesn't use it. Why should we?

  • 2
    I'm not really seeing an actual question in here, it reads more like a rant about you not liking this type of menu. What is it you actually need to know? Is there a question you need the solution to?
    – JonW
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


I don't agree with this reasoning:

In my view the hamburger menu is a placeholder for these tertiary functions. It shouldn't exist. Apple didn't create it. Apple doesn't use it. Why should we?

Just because Apple didn't create or uses it doesn't mean that it doesn't have value. While in general I would agree that the best apps do a great job focusing on primary functions, yet I also would say that just because you have a "hamburger" (or "list") icon doesn't mean you've failed with focus. There are some great examples of more complex apps using a list icon to help provide a fuller mobile experience then trying to rework the app's entire IA to fit everything into 3-5 button buckets.

A lot of Apple's apps aren't complex, multi-layered experiences. Most are fairly straight-forward, which allows for simpler navigation menus. Yet try to condense Facebook into 3 or 4 arbitrary buckets? Facebook did try that and everyone hated it because users expected to find things in a certain place after learning the system on the desktop and got confused trying to relearn it on mobile.

As more and more complex apps make their way onto mobile devices, it's the job of designers to evaluate the most efficient methods to provide a solid user experience. Sometimes that's keeping things simple with a standard jump menu below. Sometimes though it's using a list icon to reveal a fuller menu. The same principles though of making every link / area count (i.e. I should be rewarded for coming to this new section with pertinent content or experience) still apply despite the method used.

  • Facebook have since got rid of the hamburger menu in their app :) I think a better way of wording my thoughts on it are... "The hamburger menu is used as a dumping ground for things that people think the app needs". I think a lot of the time these can be removed from the app reducing its complexity and getting rid of the hamburger menu. As for complexity of the app. There are a few complex apps that Apple (and other people) have made and don't use the hamburger menu.
    – Fogmeister
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 16:16

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