Helping Users Navigate through Your Page: Breadcrumbs

I have written about breadcrumbs and why it is important in navigation. However, those who are new to usability might get confused about breadcrumbs. As mentioned in my previous post breadcrumbs “should reflect the information hierarchy and not the user’s navigation history”. What this means exactly is that breadcrumbs should exist as a reference point for users to know exactly where they are in relation to the homepage. For example if you go to our Contact Page you will see the breadcrumb…

Web Design > Contact Page

Web Design is the homepage/landing page for DoubleSpark, which is obviously just one click away from where you are.

If a user goes to a page that is further from the homepage breadcrumbs become even more important because it is when users may want to go back to a previous page but not feel like clicking the back button again and again to look for that page. Instead, with breadcrumbs they can simply click on the corresponding page so as to find the information they need. Note though that since breadcrumbs do not reflect the history this means that if the information needed is in a different category the page won’t be reflected on the mini-map. However, what makes breadcrumbs useful in cases like this is that the user can click on the page that is just above (in terms of link structure) the page they need and thus only needs two clicks to get where they want to go without having to go to the sitemap.

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