I'm working on a mobile website and have hit on an uncommon problem. The global site menu uses a hamburger menu (I know there's documentation we shouldn't be using this anymore - but that's another argument) and also there is a 'sign in - personalised part' to the site.

• The personalised section uses a 'profile icon - half hamburger half profile icon - (think Facebook iconography) to differentiate from the 'global site menu'.

• There's two trains of thought - use the profile 'signed in' icon to show alongside the global icon when a user is signed in. And not show when the user isn't.

• Only one icon be shown at all times to cut down on 'noise' However the problem is when a user is signed in but goes on the 'global site' what icon should show? The user will still need a visual indicator to show they are still signed on the 'global site'. This is still being fleshed out - so just wondering whether anyone has come across this problem or has any other thoughts on this.

I haven't seen any other cases like this - so appreciate any ideas thrown.

  • 2
    Can you provide a snippet screen-grab? It's difficult to imagine what you are detailing here. Jul 29, 2014 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


From your description, you are trying to distinguish between two levels: global and personal.

Let's first weigh options:

  • Show both: I've seen apps that use the left/right bar to distinguish between two levels.\
  • Show one: Create iconography. This is difficult because the ability for the user to understand where they are is function of how familiar they are with the site.

While simplicity is important, sometimes cutting too much obfuscates how to use an app. Case in point, Color when first launched relied only on iconography at the expense of usability.


Rather than explicitly using another icon - which may be easy to miss - I'd suggest also changing up the colour scheme a bit, i.e. make the nav bar a different shade, or include a highlighted border around the profile icon which changes colour when logged in vs not.

PS. Hamburger menus are still contextual, so there are cases in which they should exist.

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