Breadcrumb navigation is a type of website navigation that shows users their current location within the site’s hierarchy. It gives them a trail for returning to the starting or entry point.
The term “breadcrumb” comes from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, in which the main characters create a trail of breadcrumbs in order to track their path back home. Similarly, breadcrumbs in web design provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting point.
Here’s a typical example of what breadcrumb navigation might look like on a website:
Home > Category > Sub-Category > Product Page
Each step in this trail can be clicked on, allowing users to navigate to previous sections quickly.
Breadcrumbs are used in web design to enhance the usability of a website. They help users understand the layout of a website, provide shortcuts for navigation, and help search engines understand the structure of a site.
Is breadcrumb navigation good for user experience?
Breadcrumb navigation is generally good for user experience for a number of reasons:
- Orientation: breadcrumbs clearly show users their current location within the website’s hierarchy, which can help them understand where they are in relation to other site sections. This is especially helpful on complex websites with many pages and levels of content.
- Navigation: breadcrumbs provide a secondary navigation scheme, allowing users to quickly go back to previous sections or the homepage of a website without using the browser’s back button. This can help make navigating the site faster and more efficient.
- Context: breadcrumbs provide context and can help users understand the organization and structure of a website, which can be particularly useful if the user lands on a page deep within the site from a search engine or other external source.
- Fewer Clicks/Actions: breadcrumb trails can reduce the number of actions a user has to take to get to higher-level pages. Instead of repeatedly using the back button or finding the primary navigation menu, users can use the breadcrumb trail to skip directly to the page they want.
- Space-efficient: breadcrumbs don’t take up a lot of space on a page and can be neatly placed at the top or bottom. They’re a compact, unobtrusive way to enhance navigation.
While breadcrumbs are a useful navigation tool, they do not replace effective primary navigation menus. They should be used as an additional tool to enhance a website’s user experience and usability.