Breadcrumb navigation is an element on a website that makes it much easier to navigate and use by offering quick links back to visited pages.
If you’re working on submitting a document or building a page, you don’t want to lose your place and this type of navigation helps you maintain your location. There are many ways to use this function but it typically appears as a secondary navigation bar which aids in finding landing pages and the higher-level pages faster than without them.
As the Website Owner, You Need to Know when to Include Breadcrumb Navigation
Does it Make Sense for the Structure of Your Website?
This type of navigation is linear and it can only be used on the pages you’re directing users to are on the same level. If you have lower-level pages that are accessible from various landing pages this type of navigation will cause confusion for readers who reach the same landing pages from different areas of your site.
Keep Your Bar Small
If your breadcrumb navigation tool is too large it will take over your page and dominate over your primary navigation bar. It’s easy to place your breadcrumb bar below an image or text to keep it from dominating the page or being the main bar that users might choose to move around on the website. Keep this bar smaller than the primary navigation structure.
Include a Full Navigational Path in this Bar
There are many parts to this secondary navigation that you need to include. Make it easier for your users to bounce back to a page they were on before and continue to use the page. One example would be an admissions page for college with a bar that might read “Home | Admissions | Undergraduate Students” Users could bounce back to the home page or from the undergrad page to the admissions page to continue filling out forms.
Your Bar Needs to Progress from Highest to Lowest Level
Your homepage is typically the highest page on your website and submissions forms are usually at the lowest level. Your breadcrumb navigation bar needs to read from highest to lowest from left to right. This makes it very easy for you to see the path from where you entered the site to where you are now and how you can get back to another page where you were using the site.
Titles Need Consistency
The titles used for the secondary navigation bar need to match the titles of your website pages. This is extremely important to avoid confusion for users who are trying to navigate through your pages and figure out how to use your site. Make things simpler and let this bar help them get to where they want to go.
You Don’t have to Stick to the Primary Design
Most website builders won’t change the design and structure of their breadcrumb navigation bar, but others will. You can get creative with where your bar appears and what information is included to help your users find their way back to pages easily. Placing this bar somewhere that makes sense for your users will help your customers find their way around your site.
Keep Your Bar Simple and Uncluttered
Unless a user wants to use this secondary bar, they shouldn’t see it. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be visible, just that it should not be bold and stand out in a way that will take over the page. Use a simple font, a color that doesn’t stand out too much, and an easy flow of text from page to page. This will keep it visible but also simple and uncluttered.
Which Type of Breadcrumb Navigation Bar Makes the Most Sense?
There are a few different types of navigation bars you can use to give your users an easy way to move through your site. You can use a location-based bar, attribute-based system, or history-based version. Learn the differences between these three bars and help your users move from one place to another with an easy path that shows up on your pages.
Understand Your Audience
Put yourself in the position of a user that will be on your website. How would you like to move from one page to another? Ask for some input from outside sources that could show you and give you the advice you’re looking for when you want to create this secondary navigation structure. When you know your audience, you’ll help them move through your website more easily and give them a clear path that can be used while on your website.
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