Print is dead but its zombies have come back to ruin our lives with hamburger menus: grey, meaningless text and huge, meaningless images. Opening soon in a theatre of the absurd near you: ‘Revenge of the Brochureware Designers’ and ‘Nightmare on PDF Street: The Sequel.’
Recently, I had the horror of watching people trying to use a mobile site that used the hamburger menu. The hamburger menu hides the navigation of a site. Why on earth would you want to hide the navigation? Isn’t the very essence of the Web the link? Isn’t the whole foundation of the Web navigation? Yes. The Web is the link. The Web is search and navigate. The Web is you going to places you want to go to by using search and navigation.
However, there are still lots of print zombie designers and marketers out there who think that if only they can come up with a spectacular visual, ‘emotional’ design, then they will capture your attention, and be able to send you on the journey they want you to go on. (It’s a long sentence, sorry.)
There are always people who want to control you. Their job, their career, their passion is to control you. To control where you go. To control what you want, how you think, how you feel. They want to create beautiful designs that reflect the fact that they are beautiful, really cool people.
These zombie print designers hate ugly. They hate functional. Once, one of them showed me a new homepage for a major technology site. “Where’s the search,” I asked?
“It’s up there,” the zombie print designer replied.
“That tiny, little icon is the search? Why can’t you put the search box on the page?” The zombie print designer looked at me as if I had just said the most uncool thing imaginable.
“The search box is ugly,” was his dismissive reply. “It disrupts the holistic feel and detracts from the emotional branding.”
On another site a huge useless image was taking up one-third of the page. It was promoting the latest, greatest marketing campaign. Nobody was clicking on it. “Maybe you should have it take up the whole page,” I said sarcastically to the zombie print designer. He smiled. Two weeks later he showed me a new design where the useless image was talking up the entire page.
“Your grey text is almost impossible to read,” I told another zombie. He looked at me in wonder, his eyes filling up with a sense of profound discovery.
“So, that’s what text is for,” he replied. “To read.” And he wandered off contentedly, twirling his ponytail and sipping his latte.
Great web design is about putting the customer in control of their journey, not controlling their journey. Great web design is functional and fast-downloading, not some carousel of organizational egos. The next time your customer wants a link, please don’t give them a hamburger.