Should You Use Hidden Menus on Your Website?

Starbucks, In-N-Out Burger, McDonalds—each of these fast food restaurants has a hidden menu that isn’t exactly top-secret, but certainly isn’t on public display. Ask an employee if there are any options beyond the traditional menu, and they’ll happily tell you. So, why even have a secret menu?

The hidden menu (e.g., hamburger icon) has also made its way into the world of web development. You’ve probably seen it on your mobile device—those three horizontal bars on the top left or right of the screen that hide the site navigation. Well, that little hamburger is stirring up quite a beefy controversy among developers, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hidden menus.

Pro: Space-saving mechanism

Successful websites are super responsive, which means they function seamlessly across all digital devices. Since screen space is limited on mobile, hiding navigation under a drop-down menu lets designers minimize and prioritize content, while still making it accessible.

Con: Poor user experience (UX)

Hiding the navigation menu makes content less discoverable for users, which can negatively impact UX. In a world of people looking for instant gratification, a user may be too impatient to go searching for the buried “services” tab, when they could take a simple glance at a visible navigation bar on the home page instead.

Pro: The hamburger icon has become recognizable

While there are plenty of drawbacks to hidden menus, the hamburger icon has become popular, which means many users know to look for it if they don’t see clickable options.

Con: Hiding navigation lessens importance

Placing navigation in a drawer of sorts signifies that those sections are less important. Like physical drawers, a hidden menu is where you store the things you don’t need at the moment. And as we all know—out of sight, out of mind. If it wasn’t included on the home screen, it must not be that important, right?

Pro: Direct access

Rather than forcing users to go through a series of links to get to their preferred content, the hamburger allows users to access it directly. Essentially, you can click directly on the page you want, rather than rifling through other content to get to it.

What works best for your site?

When it comes to your website design, do you know exactly how to encourage browsing, tug at emotions, and incite rapid action? Liqui-site can help.

Our award-winning creative team can design your site from scratch or improve your existing design—with or without the hotly-debated hidden menu. Let’s chat about how we can create an effective and unforgettable experience for your users.