Nowadays smartphones are all around us. When taking a train, walking around on campus or visiting a concert, you can see people using their phone everywhere. One of the major purposes of the mobile phone is texting. However sending SMS (for the ones who never heard of it: Short Message Service) messages is completely out-dated. Mobile service providers lost their cash cow to various message services that are using an Internet connection for getting messages from one person to another. The most popular one is WhatsApp.
Currently WhatsApp is installed on 90% of all smartphones in the Netherlands and the application has 9.5 million Dutch active users (Bathoorn, 2015; Multiscope, 2015). Furthermore, the app is used frequently: on average Dutch WhatsApp users are sending 30 messages per day while receiving 65 messages. For young adults between 18 and 34 years old, these numbers are even 60 and 150 respectively (Multiscope, 2015).
Mobile phones notifying you all day long about a new picture that has been send by your friend or about your mom asking you when you will visit your parents again. But the app is not just used for personal messages. Currently 38% of all WhatsApp users are using the app for business purposes as well. Among young adults (18-34 years) this number reached 48% already (Multiscope, 2015).
Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps and people tend to use it for business purposes as well, why haven’t a lot of companies switched to WhatsApp in order to reach customers yet? That is exactly what Jarno Duursma discusses in his book called ‘WhatsApp voor bedrijven’ (WhatsApp for businesses). Duursma describes four major reasons why businesses should use WhatsApp (Bathoorn, 2015):
- With 9.5 million active users, target groups are using the app on a large scale.
- WhatsApp is user friendly; everyone knows how to use the app.
- Messages are more likely to be read. WhatsApp is currently in the top 5 of apps being used most frequently worldwide.
- WhatsApp can lead to higher conversion in comparison to social media, since messages can be send anonymous instead of via a public page.
An early adopter of WhatsApp for business is SuitSupply, a well-known men’s fashion brand. To provide high quality service via the app, SuitSupply linked the message service to their CRM system. By doing that, they directly know whether a customer purchased something before, whether he is still waiting on a package to arrive or whatsoever (Duursma, 2015). As mentioned by Martijn van der Zee, marketing director at SuitSupply, customers can send WhatsApp messages when they need any style advice. Customers can easily send a picture of their suit and a SuitSupply employee will find and share matching shirts and ties. If a customer is interested, he can even pay via WhatsApp and in most cases the products will be delivered the next day (Duursma, 2015).
So, with an incredible number of active users and the successful case of SuitSupply, WhatsApp seems to be a valuable way of contacting and serving customers. So, would you prefer WhatsApp instead of other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? And do you believe in ordering via WhatsApp, or would you rather visit a webshop?
Let me know!
Bathoorn, J. (2015, June 6). WhatsApp voor bedrijven, doe jij al mee? Accessed on: October 10, 2015, at frankwatching.com: http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2015/06/06/whatsapp-voor-bedrijven-doe-jij-al-mee/
Duursma, J. (2015, October 5). WhatsApp als servicekanaal: Suitsupply pakt het innovatief aan [case]. Accessed on October 10, 2015, at frankwatching.com: http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2015/10/05/whatsapp-als-servicekanaal-suitsupply-pakt-het-innovatief-aan-case/
Multiscope. (2015, July 28). Nederlander krijgt 65 berichten per dag via WhatsApp. Acessed on October 10, 2015, at multiscope.nl: http://www.multiscope.nl/persberichten/nederlander-krijgt-65-berichten-per-dag-via-whatsapp.html
Have you been to Ellis Gourmet Burger already? It’s the hamburger restaurant right beside Rotterdam Central Station. If you like burgers, you definitely have to visit that place. Although I’m a fan of the hamburger menu at Ellis, there are a lot of hamburger menus I don’t like. It’s not just about the ones you can find at restaurants. You are getting in contact with a lot of other hamburger menus on a daily basis while using (mostly) mobile devices.
It all started with the rise of smartphones and tablets. Designers of websites and apps were facing a major challenge: how to fit all information that was available in traditional webpages and applications, into the smaller screens of mobile devices. Facebook is one of the first companies that started using the hamburger menu: a side-menu hidden under a button consisting of three stacked lines. By clicking on the button, a side menu appears in which users can find additional links. (Tuk, 2015)
Sounds great right? A lot of space can be saved, and all links are just one click away. Louis Abreu, mobile UX designer, published an article about the hamburger menu in which he explained the following four major problems regarding the side menu button (Abreu, 2015).
- Lower discoverability
Although everything hidden under the menu icon is just one click away, visitors need to identify the button first. All people that do not (quickly) discover the menu button will not find the actions that are hidden behind the button at all.
- Less efficient
Even if users are aware of the hamburger menu, to activate the actions behind the button users need to first click on the icon. With the increasing number of applications, mobile device users tend to choose for efficiency and natural gestures. So avoid additional clicks for the most important functionalities.
- Clash with platform navigation patterns
Due to the fact that some mobile navigation patterns, especially the one used by Apple, use a ‘back’ button in the left top corner, it is not possible to put a hamburger menu there. Since this is the place where users expect the button to be, designers have to replace the button or use different gestures for navigating between pages. When using the first option, it becomes even harder for users to trace the button before they can navigate to a certain page. The latter option results in the fact that users need to figure out what gestures to use for what purposes.
- Not glanceable
Nowadays, app users are often notified via a small icon (mostly indicating the number of notifications) on top of another icon. When using the hamburger menu, this becomes very problematic. Since there are multiple actions/destinations hidden under the button, users do not know what kind of notification they just received.
The problems regarding the hamburger icon, including the ones mentioned above, have been tested a lot. One specific research was focusing on four different ways of presenting a menu to users: 1) ‘menu’ as text without border, 2) hamburger menu with border, 3) ‘menu’ as text plus hamburger icon including a border and 4) menu text with border (Foster, 2014). It turned out that option 4 leads to the highest click through rate (CTR) and that it performed 12.9% better than the hamburger menu (option 2). Adding ‘Menu’ to the hamburger menu leads to an increasing CTR of 5.7% compared to the standard hamburger menu. This research has shown that the functionalities of a hamburger menu are not that obvious to visitors at all.
For now, let’s go back to one of the initiators of the hamburger menu: Facebook. The social media platform used to show a hamburger menu in the top left corner of users’ newsfeeds. Now they shifted towards a tab bar at the bottom of the news feed. Although there is a little less space available for the newsfeed itself, after switching to the tab bar the Facebook app scored better on: engagement, satisfaction, revenue, speed & perception of speed metrics (Wroblewski, 2015).
So, we can conclude that the hamburger menu is not the best option to serve users. But what do you think based on your own experiences: do designers have to stick to the hamburger menu to save valuable space and wait until users are familiar with the icon? Or do you just like hamburger menus at places such as Ellis and prefer a different solution for apps?
I am looking forward to hearing some of your experiences. Just drop me a comment or let’s meet up at Ellis!
- Abreu, L. (2015). lmjabreu.com. Accessed: October 4, 2015, obtained from Why and How to Avoid Hamburger Menus: https://lmjabreu.com/post/why-and-how-to-avoid-hamburger-menus/
- Foster, J. (2014, April 8). Mobile Menu AB Tested: Hamburger Not the Best Choice? Accessed: October 4, 2015, from exisweb.net: http://exisweb.net/mobile-menu-abtest
- Tuk, Y. (2015, June 26). Design van hamburgermenu dramatisch voor mobiele interactie. Accessed: October 4, 2015, from emerce.nl: http://www.emerce.nl/achtergrond/design-hamburger-mobiel-side-menu-dramatisch-interactie
- Wroblewski, L. (2015, April 27). Obvious Always Wins. Accessed: October 3, 2015, from lukew.com: http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1945