What are Breadcrumbs?

What are Breadcrumbs?

A breadcrumb (or a breadcrumb trail) is a user-friendly secondary navigation which helps users to clear up their current place within a site or web app. Breadcrumbs give a practical visual help to navigate through the site hierarchy (level pages, category pages, etc.). The breadcrumb navigation informs the user of his/her current position to the entire site and encourages efficient browsing.

The term came from a popular Grimm’s fairytale Hansel and Gretel and implies the easy finding your place in the site’s hierarchical structure. The same way the main characters created their trail of breadcrumbs to get out of the forest, this user-friendly visual aid helps users to trace the path back to the main landing point.

Around 45% of all e-Commerce websites display a large variety of the items with the help of breadcrumbs. As a secondary navigation option, the breadcrumbs are situated underneath the primary header and have a smaller font size.


Types of Breadcrumbs

The fact of the matter is, there are different breadcrumb navigation types of today. Keep in mind, the breadcrumb navigation will not turn a website into a runaway hit. Instead, it helps increase the overall usability of the site and improve the user experience.

  • Location-based breadcrumbs clear up the user his/her current place within the site’s hierarchy. It gives a practical help for users who enter the site by chance from an external source.
  • Path-based breadcrumbs also known as a history trail let the user quickly go back to one of the previous pages. This option is widely used when the user has applied multiple filters and want to jump back to the starting point.
  • Attribute-based breadcrumbs are mostly used in e-Commerce websites. They help the user to see different attributes or categories tabbed to a certain page. In a word, an item the user is looking for comprises different information but categorized under multiple other groups.

Why Use Breadcrumbs?

Every time the user lands on a site he will either bounce it or go back to the starting point to browse for more. The breadcrumb navigation encourages the user to keep on browsing the site. A perfect website navigation helps the user find what he/she is looking for with ease. Thus, it improves the findability of the site. Breadcrumbs provide SEO benefits and offer multiple ways for users to navigate through the site. It offers solid links to other related parts of the site. The user has a great journey through the site without leaving it because of the confused structure. Breadcrumbs can help redesign a pleasing website and give a great benefit to the users.

The breadcrumb trail is an effective aid in showing the current place within the site and useful to enhance SEO-optimization.

Related terms: navigation, label, interface, informational architecture

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