Let’s Talk About Breadcrumbs

Amanda Stoneman — April 4th, 2015
Breadcrumb implementation for multi-level sites is incredibly beneficial and doesn’t affect the site’s load time.

We’re team breadcrumb! Breadcrumb navigation is a highly effective tool for improving a multi-level site’s usability, keyword density, user experience and more. Here’s a helpful guide to learn more about the types of breadcrumbs and how/when to use them.

In web design, breadcrumbs are utilized as a type of secondary navigation to show users their location on a site. Similar to leaving a breadcrumb trail, users are always able to trace their path and find their way home with ease. Breadcrumbs are incredibly important for complex websites with many pages. While web designers are still in a heated debate over the issue of whether breadcrumbs are necessary or not, breadcrumbs provide many benefits for users such as improved usability and decreased bounce rates.

 

Breadcrumb Benefits

  • Increase Usability
  • Expand Keyword Density
  • Decrease Bounce Rates
  • Improve User Experience
  • Reduce Clicks for Higher Levels
  • Create a Visual Aid

 

How and when should you use breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs should be formatted as links, arranged horizontally, separated by the ‘greater than’ character (>) and located at the top of the page. If you decide to use breadcrumbs, use them consistently.

Breadcrumb navigation should be used for large websites as well as ones that are hierarchically arranged such as e-commerce websites. Don’t use a breadcrumb trail for single-level websites or ones with no logical hierarchy.

Breadcrumbs should never replace the website’s primary navigation.

 

What are the different types of breadcrumbs?

  • Location-based breadcrumbs help users determine where they are on a website or where the page stands in relation to other pages. This type of breadcrumb trail assists the main navigation for sites with more than two levels of content.
  • Path-based breadcrumbs show users the path taken to arrive on a particular page. Users will see previously visited pages and will feel grounded, given that they can navigate back to any page with ease.
  • Attribute-based breadcrumbs are widely used for ecommerce sites and do not follow a single path. Most designers use this breadcrumb trail to describe the attributes of that page.

Breadcrumb implementation for multi-level sites is incredibly beneficial and doesn’t affect the site’s load time. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to improve the user’s experience with a useful and handy secondary navigation system.