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Breadcrumbs would be redundant for some of my pages and quite pointless, but effective on others which are a bit deeper.

Is it bad practice to only implement breadcrumbs on some of the pages?

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Welcome to StackUX! Check out the faq and tour pages to learn more about the site. Can you provide some more information about your site? What type of site? What sort of information is on the pages? –  norabora May 5 '13 at 7:25
    
To add my 2 cents to the Consistency argument (that is an excellent one), you should also keep in mind that breadcrumbs alone are not good enough for navigation because they only tell you where you are and the path from the home page to the current location. –  Toni Toni Chopper May 5 '13 at 10:20
    
You might get away with no breadcrumb navigation on the home page... but a user should never be able to get to a page deeper in the hierarchy FROM a page with breadcrumbs TO a page without. –  David Clarke May 5 '13 at 12:46

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

2007 article from NN/g Breadcrumb Navigation Increasingly Useful

Summary: One line of text shows a page's location in the site hierarchy. User testing shows many benefits and no downsides to breadcrumbs for secondary navigation.

Consistency is a key principle for UX design. If you implement breadcrumb for some pages and not for others, you are breaking your own site's consistency.

This consistency means that people know a breadcrumb trail when they see one, and immediately know how to use it. Consistency breeds familiarity and predictability, which breed usability. This again means that you must comply with conventions in the design of your own breadcrumbs.

Verdict: No, it is not okay to implement half of a breadcrumb navigation

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Thanks so much for your help everyone –  markhill May 5 '13 at 17:15

No, you should try and use the same navigation controls throughout. Besides the obvious advantages for learnability, shifting navigation mechanisms within a site runs the risk of implying that users are moving between different ecosystems.

If only a small number of pages would benefit from breadcrumbs, however - perhaps because your site structure is rather flat - you could consider other navigational aids for those pages. Wizards with step links, progressive disclosure and tiling effects (if you're on mobile) are all patterns you could use to help users negotiate these trickier pages without forcing redundant measures on other pages.

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No, breadcrumbs are about providing users with a sense of place and how they got there, plus the means to easily go back and try a new path. So, consistency, sense of place, context are vital.

Simpler architectures, mobile, and flat structures don't need them. If it's a specific task completion flow with a lot of options, you could use a guided process using a train. However, for navigating, searching, or giving users a sense of where they are in an information hierarchy they're great.

If they're not implemented consistently, the user might even think it's a design feature failing...:)

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Consistency is the first rule of good UX, but there can be exceptions. For example take landing pages, the breadcrumbs would offer a exit option you don't want.

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Another important example is the homepage. Breadcrumbs aren't necessary on homepages because there is no where to move up in the site's hierarchy. Landing pages, where you're aiming to provide a very guided path is a good example as well, but you could also think of them as almost a separate site. –  Matthew Moore May 9 '13 at 12:43

No, this is the perfect example of a bad ux i.e. - Having a navigation bar in blue on the homepage but red on the internal pages is not acceptable.

Consistency is always good. I can see an argument for having certain types of breadcrumbs in the form of progress bars for instance (Ie - to show progress).

If your site/app has a good, clean url/directory setup then you'll have no need for breadcrumbs. (ie - www.site.com/shop/mens/ is better than just www.site.com/mens/ )

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