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by Joe Pendlebury (@theuxchap)

How the Hamburger Menu Almost Led to a Triple-Digit Million Pound Loss

Three Stupid F**king Lines

Adidas, this isn’t about you, my friend. I’ll be rocking those three stripes well into my ’40s (as long as my kids let me!) — much like my Hip Hop idols, the Beastie Boys, used to.

No, it’s that wretched Hamburger Menu — the ‘Wimpy’ of the online world that just won’t die.

“Let’s add the word ‘Menu’”, they say. Well, that’s one way to polish a turd.

Then you get those Radiohead-loving, UX “Hipsters”, who wanna be “on trend” with their provocative adoption of two lines. “We could even animate it into a ‘Close’ icon… *Mic drop*”

Norm Cox, through no fault of your own, you’ve created a monster, sir. It’s alive!!! These three black bars — which I’m sure with good intent, were designed initially as an icon for the Xerox Star as a “container” for contextual menu choices — have somehow escaped the ’80s to cause one helluva ruckus! It’s like Bananarama, except for the fact, they aged well.

“Robert De Niro’s waiting… Talking Italian” ←That’s a Bananarama banger, right there!

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3… and 4!

A couple of months back, I concluded yet another round of A/B testing with the [bloody] Hamburger Menu on a FTSE 100 Retailer’s website. It had failed epically the first three times it was trialled, against the ‘Control’ — a horizontally-sliding nav menu (much like that you see on Medium’s website today) — but hey ho, let’s give it another stab, anyway!

Whitesnake’s, “Here I Go Again”, came to mind…

A quick sketch to show the nature of the test conducted.

During this trial, 10% of all website traffic was directed to the ‘Control’ and 10% diverted to the ‘Test’. It doesn’t sound like a lot of traffic, but it is. I was keen to divert more, but being the risk-averse company it is, they wanted to play it safe. Fair enough. The test ran for a period of two weeks, but reached statistical significance within just a few days.

The Control won across all “Success Metrics” — by some margin too!

From an Ecommerce perspective, the Hamburger Menu spelt disaster as far as Revenue, Transactions, Average Order Value (AOV) and Conversion Rate (C/R) were concerned. All of these key metrics were massively down versus the Control.

We encountered a 0.5% (percentage point) drop in C/R when the Hamburger Menu was introduced.

This detrimental impact on C/R surpasses the uplift, both Zalando and Boohoo saw, over the course of their whole Financial Year, just a couple of years back. Let that sink in a second…

Interaction rates with the top-level links in the Hamburger Menu were also down a whopping 68%, versus the Control!

But wait for this…

If we were to have released the Hamburger Menu on 1st January 2017, it would have very likely resulted in a triple-digit, million pound (£) loss of revenue, by the end of the year!

I can’t say it would have fo’ sho’, due to other on-site and external influences we have to take into consideration, but my Big Query-loving, brother from another mother, seemed confident in the resulting findings.

Slow-Cooked, Shredded Beef, Anyone?

So there you have it. The story of how the Hamburger Menu almost led to a triple-digit million pound loss of revenue. During my four year battle (which is still ongoing, even in light of the above!), not once has it proven to add any business value. Quite the opposite.

Instead of aimlessly copying others (who probably also haven’t tested their s**t), make it your priority to validate your Hamburger Menu implementation too. And when you do, be sure to share your findings, by way of a response to this post.

Alternatives to the Hamburger Menu

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it goes without saying, there are viable alternatives to the Hamburger Menu worth exploring and experimenting with, covered in a couple of my other posts, over ‘ere —

Where’s the Beef? Revisited — Navigation Design for the Mobile Web, 18 Months On

Where’s the Beef? Going “Hamburgerless” on the Mobile Web

Further Reading

You may also enjoy reading another one of my most-popular articles, “Stop Designing F**king Sh!t Experiences! Please.”

Trust me, it’s a good’n — and one that I thoroughly enjoyed writing too. All from the heart.

“Your personal opinion of a product, means f**k all! It’s not designed for f**king you! You’re not the one f**king using it!”

It features Theme Hospital references, 21 f-bombs, and a Ric Flair “WOOOOOO!!!” GIF. What more could you want?! Enjoy.

One Last Thing…

If you liked this article, please applaud it 👏 and share it with your friends, work colleagues and followers. Remember, you can clap up to 50 times — it makes a big difference for me in helping to focus my writing on what you guys enjoy reading the most.

You’re also welcome to follow me on Medium, on Twitter, or even connect with me on LinkedIn. Thank you for your support! 😊



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Joe Pendlebury

Joe Pendlebury


UX Alchemist & Experimenter 🧙‍♂️ | Sharpie Addict ✒️ | Dad of 2 😴 | Connoisseur of Hip Hop 🤑, Hall & Oates 🧔 & Jimmy Buffett 🍹 | Imitation ≠ Innovation 💯