OK, hipsters, the menu icon looks nothing like a hamburger

I’ve been seeing and hearing this for a while now and it’s really bugging the hell out of me. Yes, I’ve some issues, but humour me for a moment here. I’m about to rail against web designers and developers referring to the menu icon as a “hamburger menu”. Seriously. I’m doing this.

Not to come across as some old guy whining about something so utterly mundane and how Millennials have made a mockery of our profession by using cutesy, infantilized names for things, because that’s unfair. Besides, for all I know, that stupid name was chosen by some 43 year-old developer who’d just inhaled a little happy hay and let the munchies do the thinking. Gee, I can’t relate to that guy at all.

But seriously, this is my nails on a chalkboard.

First of all, it’s not a “menu”. It’s an icon. It’s like calling a search icon a search form. It makes no sense. Sure, some people go halfway to at least refer to it as a “hamburger icon”, but that doesn’t matter, cuz, you know…IT AIN’T A HAMBURGER!

Second, it doesn’t even remotely look like a hamburger. Even adding colour to the icon doesn’t help much with the effect:

hamburger menu icon next to a hamburger
C’mon! Hamburgers don’t look like that!

Fine, MAYBE if it was a hamburger after being put in a panini press but even that’s a stretch. Maaaaaybe a McDonald’s cheeseburger after sitting on it, fine. If it looks like any food item, it’s a hot dog or a stack of pancakes. I thought Millennials loved pancakes!

Other things the icon actually resembles includes:

Or, and I know this is going to sound even sillier…a MENU!

Simpsons old man yells at cloud screenshot
Pretty much.

Imagine pitching a design to a client. You’re in their boardroom, the table’s surrounded by stakeholders and marketers, and while walking them through the navigation system you refer to the menu icon as the “hamburger menu” or “hamburger icon”. There going to ask what the hell hamburgers have to do with their site’s navigation and then you’re going to have to say “Oh, that’s just what we call the icon for menus”. They’re going to think you’re out of your mind. Great sell, you lunatic!

This isn’t the more productive use of my time my therapist suggested I work on.

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Fred looking at his camera phone with a dumb grin on his hairy face About

I'm an Ottawa-based web designer and front end developer who's been in the industry since HTML was written in all-caps with inline CSS. I like writing about the web as well as my other creative interests. Follow me on Twitter


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