I want to agree with you, and you MIGHT have me… But in a nutshell, it seems like you’re just saying, “Doing this is TERRIBLE, so stop it. Do something else.” You begin with the assumption that it’s terrible, but don’t offer any background/data/stats on WHY it’s terrible (other than your personal preference), and the only thing close to a suggested alternative is “just put it all on the screen”. Well, that’s really not an option, hence the explosion of overflow icons.
I’m of the thought that, if EVERYONE is doing it then:
- It must be working to a certain degree, and
- users will be forced to use them so much that it will become part of a learned behavior.
I hear the same complaints about the hamburger menu, but it seems like it’s mostly from designers. I’ve never had a client/user complain about a hamburger menu (I know there are “studies”, but my experience doesn’t reflect that). They all know what it means and how to use it, since they see them EVERYWHERE. I avoid them if at all possible, but sometimes hamburger it is.
Sure, designers need to make the hard choices. I think choosing to use an overflow menu of some sort IS a hard choice — I don’t think anyone would say that is their preference. But when you have clients complaining about content not being “above the fold” (vomit!), something’s got to go, and I don’t see another intuitive option at this point. Ugly works.