What are Breadcrumbs in Web Design?
You immediately start looking for recognizable signs if you’ve ever been lost somewhere. That could be a signpost, a grocery mart, a gas station, or anything else. It could be an object or a location entirely.
The same logic applies to large websites, where users may find themselves lost. That is why web designers leave ‘breadcrumbs,’ or clues for the user to find the relevant information and navigate to the web page that contains the information. Thus, breadcrumbs in web design are nothing but the relationship between the user’s current page and a higher page. In the absence of these breadcrumbs, the user is most likely to exit the site altogether.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what exactly breadcrumbs in web design are and how they will improve the navigational aspect of your website and, ultimately, the user experience.
What are Breadcrumbs in Web Design?
Breadcrumb navigation refers to the feature on top of websites that informs the user of the page they’re currently in and how they got there. This feature is essential in all websites but is more valuable than in e-commerce sites. If you’re looking for bomber jackets, you can find the category in the men’s section, followed by ‘winter wear,’ and finally, bomber jackets. You’ll find the breakdown of these pages on top of the website. This is breadcrumb navigation.
Breadcrumbs are special because each breadcrumb, i.e., the product category and products, are all linked to each other, allowing the user navigational flexibility and finding their way back to relevant web pages.
The 3 Types of Breadcrumbs
There are three types of breadcrumbs used in web design. They are:
History based breadcrumbs inform the user about the pages he has visited on a particular website. However, this form of navigation has become obsolete, as the toolbar already allows the user to go back and forth about their web history.
History-based breadcrumbs are used in web pages with complicated names or URLs.
Hierarchy based navigation is when the user visits a web page from another parent page. Suppose you’re reading up on an online software or tool and decide to purchase it. Hierarchy-based navigation will show you the current web page you’re at along with the parent page (from where you visited the current site). This gives a lot of flexibility to users when it comes to navigation.
Attribute-based breadcrumbs are commonly used in e-commerce platforms. This type of breadcrumb informs the user of the various attributes of the contents of a web page. For example, attribute-based breadcrumbs would list all the product’s characteristics, such as features and filters, if you’re looking to purchase the software.
Benefits of Using Breadcrumbs in Navigation
Using breadcrumbs to define your navigation has a lot of benefits. Here are some of them:
Enhances User Experience
Breadcrumbs are used to navigate, which adds convenience for the user. In the case of large, multi-paged websites, breadcrumb navigation enables them to navigate to higher-category pages easily.
With breadcrumb navigation, the user doesn’t have to rely on the browser’s back button or the primary navigation to return to a higher category page. They can do so with fewer clicks using breadcrumb navigation.
Reduces Bounce Rate
Breadcrumb navigation is handy when you want to retain the user and shift them from your landing pages to your main website pages. The user may be enticed to visit a higher category page for additional information after visiting your landing page via an online search, thereby reducing the bounce rate of your website.
Improves Google Rankings
Every website must be ranked on Google’s first page to gain visibility. Breadcrumb navigation organizes all your content into categories, making it easier for Google and other search engines to understand your website. This, having breadcrumb navigation, helps your website to rank on top of Google search listings.
No Content Overload
Breadcrumb navigation only utilizes a little space on your web page. They’re horizontally aligned, which doesn’t leave your web designer to scratch their head on where to place the breadcrumb trails. They provide so many benefits with little to no negatives, making them a great second alternative to navigation.
When to Use Breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumb navigation is mainly used for large websites that have multiple pages. They’re an additional feature that improves navigation and shouldn’t be used to replace your primary navigation elements.
E-commerce websites primarily utilize this type of navigation, where thousands of products are grouped into logical and broad categories.
What should be remembered here is that breadcrumb navigation isn’t suitable for small websites that have no hierarchy or category-based pages. This is why web designers are responsible for creating sitemaps that accurately define the website’s architecture. This architecture could be used to analyze whether breadcrumb trails would improve the navigational aspect of the website for the end user.
Breadcrumb navigation is an additional feature that provides your users with an alternative to navigating around the website with ease.
How to Add Breadcrumbs to your Site?
Breadcrumbs can be added in several ways. If your website is built on WordPress, you’ll have several plugins at your disposal to add breadcrumb navigation. Other CMS platforms also have varying methods to add secondary navigation to your site.
If you have a custom website, you can also hire a web developer to add them to the site by coding. For SEO purposes, you should also use structured data that’s easily understood by search engines. This way, the breadcrumb navigation would also appear on search results.
Breadcrumb navigation supports your primary navigation, making it easier and more convenient for your users. The breadcrumbs should be easily understood by the user, making it easier for them to navigate around your website.
As breadcrumbs enhance user experience, Google also favors them, so using them may also give boost your organic rankings on search results.