Just like what Hansel and Gretel followed 🥖

Breadcrumbs are an essential part of good UX for web navigation. A breadcrumb is a crucial navigation element employed in web design to provide users with a clear path to their current location within a website’s hierarchical structure. Positioned just above a page title and below the navigation bar, breadcrumbs visually represent the user’s journey through a website, making it easier to understand the site’s organization and navigate its content efficiently.

Breadcrumbs are usually presented as a series of text-based hyperlinks, each representing a level of the website’s hierarchy. These links are typically separated by arrows (“>”) or slashes (“/”) to visually indicate the hierarchy, although pipes (“|”) and icons may also see use. For example:

Home > Category > Subcategory > Page Title

In this example, “Home” represents the homepage, “Category” and “Subcategory” are intermediary levels of the site’s structure, and “Page Title” is the current page the user is on.

Breadcrumb links are typically styled differently from regular text or navigation links to make them easily recognizable. Common styling includes underlining, bolding, or changing the text color to indicate that these links serve a different purpose.

The term “breadcrumbs” was popularized by Jakob Nielsen, a renowned usability expert, in the late 1990s. The idea comes from the old Brothers Grimm fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, where the protagonists left a trail of breadcrumbs in the forest to find their way back home. Since then, breadcrumbs have become a standard feature in website navigation, enhancing the user experience.

Types of breadcrumbs

There are numerous types of breadcrumbs you can choose from when designing your website. Each of these styles will help your audience find their way around your site.

  • Location-based breadcrumbs: These display the user’s current location within the website’s hierarchy, showing a path from the homepage to the specific page they are on.
  • Path-based breadcrumbs: These showcase the actual path the user has taken to arrive at the current page, often including categories and subcategories.
  • Attribute-based breadcrumbs: These highlight the attributes or filters applied by the user, aiding in refining search results.

Benefits for user experience:

Breadcrumbs offer several advantages for user experience, including:

  • Enhanced navigation: Users can easily retrace their steps or jump to higher-level pages, reducing frustration and making navigation more intuitive.
  • Improved orientation: Breadcrumbs provide context, helping users understand where they are within the website’s structure.
  • Time efficiency: Users can quickly navigate to relevant sections without repeatedly using the back button or returning to the homepage.

Benefits for site design

Users may enjoy breadcrumbs for their utility, but they serve a much greater purpose in your site’s organization and your SEO efforts.

  • Improved user experience: Google prioritizes websites that offer excellent user experiences. Breadcrumbs enhance navigation, reduce bounce rates, and increase user engagement, factors that positively influence SEO rankings.
  • Internal linking: Breadcrumbs are a form of internal linking that can help distribute link equity throughout your site. This can improve the authority of deeper pages and contribute to overall SEO strength.
  • Mobile optimization: As mobile usage grows, breadcrumbs play a crucial role in improving mobile user experiences. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in its rankings, making breadcrumbs a valuable asset for SEO.

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