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BREADCRUMB TRAILS IN WEB DESIGN – 04 December 2012

Breadcrumb navigation is sometimes overlooked by designers in the design and development process. Some designers may even find it unnecessary while others may feel it’s too much hassle for what it’s worth.

The bottom line is, really think about the usability of your audience for your site. If the website is going to have a lot of pages, then a breadcrumb navigation can greatly enhance the way users find their way around a site. sometimes you might find your website is visited through a search engine which will take them to a high-level page. As this is quite far into your site map, your visitor may not be able to find the information they are looking for and ultimately return to the search engine and navigate onto a competing website. Adding breadcrumb navigation is good way of ensuring your visitors find what they are looking for everytime. So next time your thinking about building a website for a client or a friend. Just think about adding a breadcrumb navigation

So what exactly is a breadcrumb?

Breadcrumbs (or “breadcrumb trail”) is a type of secondary navigation and typically appears horizontally across the top of a web page and often below title bars or headers. Breadcrumbs are planned according to the page structure of your website, so it’s really important that you get the page structure planned out before designing any site. ”Breadcrumbs reveal the users location in a website or web application. It provides a link back to the previous pages navigated by the user. In heirachial site structures (or parent page) a greater than sign > will often serve as a seperator, designers also use these gylphs (…..) and other graphical treatments.

When should we use a breadcrumb trail?

Use breadcrumb navigation for large websites such as e-commerce websites, in which a large variety of products is grouped into logical categories.

Take the Apple website for an example; if the viewer is on the page selling Macbook Pro then the breadcrumb trail structure will show the main categories in descending order back to the home page. This structure follows the proper order of page appearance. The breadcrumb trail will look something like this “Home > Shop Mac > Select”. This trail is usually based on the folder structure in the backend system of the web site. The user can go to any of the pages of the trail by simply clicking on the text. So if you wanted to go to home page or to the Shop Mac page all you would have to do is click on the “Home icon” or the “Macbook Pro” link on the breadcrumb trail.

Breadcrumbs should not be used for single level sites that have no relevant hierarchy or grouping of pages. However, while dealing with the Breadcrumb menus, you need to keep in mind that this type of navigation should be considered as an extra feature to enhance the attraction of the site and it shouldn’t replace useful primary navigation menus.

Breadcrumbs have a time and place and It really depends on the structure of the content and how many levels deep the pages are. If a website really only has 2 levels of content, then breadcrumbs may be a little redundant.

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