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If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears.
-Isaac Hayes

BY: reedfisher / 0 COMMENTS / CATEGORIES: Design Process

Small hamburger icon picture
The infamous and scent-free hamburger icon

Did you know that words have a scent?

It’s true, and it’s an IxD principle that is very critical in designing effective user interface designs.

So lean over and sniff very carefully — can you smell those roses?

No, not that kind of scent. Scent is a word we UI Designers apply to navigation and other UI components that help a user “sniff – out” where she wants to go in a site. It’s extremely important to choose your navigation words carefully so that the scent is powerful and useful to your users!

Time for a bad example and a good example:

Bad Example: That little “hamburger” icon in many, many mobile apps. Why is it so bad? It has NO scent at all! Many users will not see it, will not touch it, and will leave the site rather than expand it to see what the hidden menu says.

Good Example: Any site with great, descriptive labels on the navigation menu. NBC News recently tried the hamburger icon and found it to test and work very badly. They have since gotten rid of it and have created some thoughtful and useful menus that have “scent” again. I’ve seen many sites with mega menus that contain pictures and descriptions that are also very good — lots of “scent.” Another trend that is happening today is the full-page menu, and I’m working on a version of that for a mobile app I’m designing. The opening page will have perhaps six nice tiles for six main categories of the app, then when one is touched the six will transform quickly (via HTML 5, CSS, and JavaScript, into a nice, small menu bar and the subject touched will be displayed. Touching Home again will show the tiles full-screen, or touching another menu item will switch to that subject. Not a hamburger in sight!

I admit to using the hamburger icon in some mobile designs, and the majority of us have done so. I also commit to never using it again! If you review a design that has that little hamburger icon, tell your UX person and developers that you just won’t accept that kind of laziness, and demand they get a good solution for your mobile app design with lots of scent for your users. It will pay off in a huge way!

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