Web usability principle 3: Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs for website navigationIn part 3 of our series on web usability we’ll look at another aid to navigation known as breadcrumbs. The term comes from the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel in the popular fairytale. Breadcrumbs are about knowing where you are and are a bit like the “You are here” arrows you see on maps in town centres.

They typically show a path from the home page to the page you are on and they look something like this: Home > Sport > Football > Championship > Leeds United. Each of the breadcrumbs apart from the last one links to the page so in this example you could jump straight to the Sport page. It’s a simple idea which is easy to implement and doesn’t take up much space. You will usually find breadcrumbs near the top of the page; you’ll see one on this page just beneath the red menu bar.

They are usually in small type to indicate that they are an accessory rather than the main navigation. To make it even clearer what they represent you could put the words “You are here” just before the start of the breadcrumb trail.

The other web usability principles:

  • 1. Be conventional: It sounds dull but website users will find what they want more quickly if your website layout follows convention.
  • 2. Make it easy to find your way around: Your website navigation need to be clear, consistent and logical.
  • 4. Keep it short: Get rid of unnecessary written content because no-one will read it and it makes the useful stuff harder to see.

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