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Breadcrumb Navigation - Good? Bad?
Breadcrumb Navigation - Good? Bad?

 1:33 am on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I read this article about breadcrumb navigation:


What are your thoughts, from both a usability standpoint? are they worth it, assuming that they are technologically easy to implement?

I just can't seem to link them to the natural way people use sites, yet somehow they seem logical to a tech geek like me.

just wanting your opinions....




 1:38 am on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think they can be valuable for a site which organises itself in a useful hierarchy. The key is that it is a form of 'up' navigation to allow one to visit a parent folder/section.


 12:23 pm on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm a firm believer in breadcrumbs - I think the more reassurance that you can give your user that they will never get lost in your site, the better. There are lots of usability issues that breadcrumbs help with, like the lost-in-hypertext problem, embedded digression and the "art museum" problem (see http://psychology.wichita.edu/optimalweb/structure.htm [psychology.wichita.edu].

You need to have a good IA or site structure for breadcrumbs to be effective and you need to decide on which breadcrumb paradigm to use (site specific or path specific).


 1:01 pm on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

In most cases, I think they are helpful. As THE BLOB ;) has pointed out, redundancy is a key element of usability.

I don't always use them, however. They imply hierarchy, and not all sites benefit from a hiearchical approach, such as most wikis, and many sites that allow the user to specify the organization (like with searches).

They can also add complexity. In some sites, we are best off reducing visual complexity. Google got famous for having one text box and a couple of buttons in the middle of the screen.

I do a lot of WordPress [wordpress.org] mods, and WP doesn't include breadcrumbs in its nav. I think it needs them, and I'll probably write a plugin (or find one already written) to provide them.

By the way, Blob; thanks for the link [psychology.wichita.edu]. Useful site. I was not aware of it previously.


 1:32 pm on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

No problem C! ;)

It's very true - without a tree-like hierarchy the traditional site specific breadcrumbs don't really work. You need to have a very clear idea of the information architecture of your site and translate this into how you will build your breadcrumbs.

As cmarshall says Wikis and freeform sites can be very difficult to do this for, as the information there is graph like in structure, rather than tree like. This is where path structured breadcrumbs may be an option.

Keith Instones poster on the 3 Breadcrumb types is always a good read: http://instone.org/breadcrumbs [instone.org]

[edited by: BlobFisk at 1:32 pm (utc) on Jan. 29, 2008]

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