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The MoinMoin wiki engine has a UI element I would like to add to my web application. It looks very similar to breadcrumbs, but it behaves in a different way. According to UI Patterns,

Breadcrumbs show the user where he is now in relation to the site’s hierarchy

However, in MoinMoin the element shows you the last five pages you have visited, regardless of the hierarchy. So something like this


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

When you open Page 6, it will change to


download bmml source

My question is:

  • Is there a common name for this kind of element?
  • Are there any guidelines / best practices about whether to use it or how?
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Why re-invent browser history? – Marjan Venema Feb 15 '13 at 18:08
It is indeed very similar to browser history, but depending on the browser you use, it is too many clicks away. For example, in Chrome and Opera you need two clicks to get the list of recently viewed pages. And to be honest, most of the users of my application don't even know that their browser has such a feature. They know the 'back' button but nothing more. – claasz Feb 18 '13 at 7:58
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I don't know an agreed upon name for it. It certainly is a derivative of the breadcrumb pattern.

I would call it a recently viewed feature or recent history. But I don't think its common enough that it merits a jargonny name. IMHO.

It's a handy feature...if I were applying it, I wouldn't cause potential confusion by applying a breadcrumb pattern. (UNLESS, that is part of the benefit, that users could back-track)

I would prefer a sidebar list (Like the Related links seen on this page) this way the breadcrumbs can also do their job.

You visited

  • Betegeuse
  • Bellatrix
  • Rigel

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This seems to be History. As you present it, the same pages might alternatively be accessed through a Back button. Recently Viewed or Browsing History might be appropriate names for this element.

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If they look like breadcrumbs people will think they are breadcrumbs - so you'd be breaking on of the main rules of UX - familiarity.

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This is navigation history reinvented.

It makes sense in an e-commerce site. But be careful about your users' privacy and their perception of your site. Your users may feel bad. Amazon, and (Amazon's) IMDb, do that now. And, the first time, I saw “You recently viewed : this film, that film, that other film”, and I felt spied on.

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