The hamburger button is a button placed typically in a top corner of a graphical user interface. Its function is to toggle a menu or navigation bar between being collapsed behind the button or displayed on the screen. The icon typically associated with this menu, which consists of three horizontal bars, is more formally known as the collapsed menu icon. However, the term Hamburger Button gained acceptance and has become a commonly used term.
The icon was originally designed by Norm Cox as part of the user interface for the Xerox Star, introduced in 1981; it saw a resurgence starting in 2009 stemming from the limited screen area available to mobile apps.
The "menu" button takes the form of an icon that consists of three parallel horizontal lines (displayed as ☰), suggestive of a list. The name refers to its resemblance to the menu that is typically exposed or opened when interacting with it.
The wider button may be reduced to three vertically stacked dots (displayed as a tri-colon or vertical ellipsis ⋮ ). In the Microsoft Office 365 platform, a similar application menu consisting of three rows of three squares is displayed.
Tapping or clicking on this button results in a menu being revealed, which distinguishes it from a menu bar that is always on display.
There have been a number of criticisms of the button and its icon:
- Concerns that while the collapsed menu button is now commonplace, its functionality is not necessarily immediately obvious when first encountered.
- Criticisms that a menu button increases interaction cost, albeit with the benefit of less space usage of the screen, in the context of mobile apps compared to a bottom bar menu.
- Suggestions of "poor design choice" in apps for mobile devices by TechCrunch.
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