Breadcrumb Navigation Techniques for Relatively Enhanced User Experience

In the famous German fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, the two children namely Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs while walking in the woods to find their way home.

Similar to this the use of breadcrumbs in a website would act as a navigational trail to find one’s way back to the homepage. So before proceeding with this article let us look at what actually does “breadcrumb navigation” really mean?

WHAT IS BREADCRUMB NAVIGATION?

Breadcrumbs can be simply defined as navigational aids which help the user spot their location in your website.

These are most of the times located on the top of the webpage indicating the path that the user has travelled in the hierarchy of pages listed on the website. These are in the form of horizontal text links that are closely spaced and separated by the greater than (>) symbol.

USER EXPERIENCE

So when a user lands on your webpage through a related search or deeper links they can be easily directed towards the higher-level pages on your website by the use of these breadcrumbs.

Without breadcrumbs, the user would be left with no other option but to click on ‘back button’ or the ‘inbound links’. While the ‘back button’ is ‘history-based’, the breadcrumbs are ‘hierarchy-based’ thus enabling the users to get a better outlook of your website.

USES OF BREADCRUMBS

  1. Provide a well-structured data on the website.
  2. Help the users get a better understanding of the layout of your website.
  3. Improve the usability of the website.
  4. Use lesser space and provide more benefits.
  5. Aid the users in easy determining of their position in the hierarchy of pages within your website.
  6. Relatively trouble-free navigating from page to another.

TYPES OF BREADCRUMBS

  • POSITION-BASED BREADCRUMBS:
    • The most common type of breadcrumbs found on multiple websites.
    • They designate the page location in the site hierarchy.
    • Through these breadcrumbs, the user can visit similar pages for further information within the same website.
  • PATHWAY-BASED BREADCRUMBS:
    • They show each step of the path the user has travelled beginning from the higher-level pages to the current page.
    • These help display varied path links for the same content within the website.
  • GROUPED ITEMS BREADCRUMBS:
    • These types help categorize particular products, services or information aiding in effortless navigation between various products, services and information pages.

DO’S AND DON’T’S IN BREADCRUMB NAVIGATION:

  • DO’S:
    • Their main focus should be about the user experience and website usability.
    •  Should be implemented throughout the website, for each and every page.
    • They must follow a sequence beginning from the home page all their way down to the active or current page. 
    • They must include the complete navigational path, as skipping a step would confuse the user especially in case of complex hierarchy websites.
    • They should better be creative and appealing.
    • They should be relatable with the page titles.
    • Must necessarily be target- specific based on the type of audience.
  • DONT’S:
    • They should never be linked to the current page.
    • They should not be disarranged and must be simple to access.
    • They should not contain excessive details and must be appropriate.
    • They should never be included in the page title itself.

BREADCRUMBS IMPACT ON SEO:

  • Makes it more attractive for Google bots for they get a better look of your web site’s overall structure as to how all the pages have been organized based on hierarchy.
  • Emphasize the internal linking of your website as well help include contextual linking to related pages which is just another benefit.
  • Reduce the bounce rates and increase the time spent on your website thus raising your website ranking.

EXAMPLES OF BREADCRUMBS:

  • Wayfair website includes breadcrumbs in product and category pages which help in easy transition between different categories from any detailed page.
  • Unlike other websites, Apple uses breadcrumbs at the footer page section.
  • The Google Support site uses breadcrumbs in each service page located right at the page heading section making it easily visible.
  • The MSDN Docs use designs like arrow marks and categorical links with a dropdown menu containing extra pages, in the final link of the breadcrumb chain.
  • The reason behind the success of Amazon is its appreciably lengthy breadcrumb chain encouraging the customers to click on the relatable products.

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