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What does this breadcrumb pattern signify? Is it Under All products you have selected lighting or Does it say All products or lighting? Isn't it confusing?

Usually, we do use "/" for or option.


I agree with you. The forward slash (/) does give a fair chance to novice users to think about it.

Which why it would be best to replace the forward slash with an arrow or a backward slash \ . The backward slash would even indicate that you can go a step backward using that breadcrumb navigation.


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Backward Slash

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  • Do you have a good reason to think users recognize the difference between slashes? I certainly never do. I am frequently frustrated by Windows apps and CLIs that require the "correct" type of slash.
    – Nate Green
    Sep 24 '17 at 14:21
  • "The backward slash would even indicate that you can go a step backward" That's a new one. Do you have any supporting evidence for this idea? It seems pretty questionable to me. Sep 25 '17 at 15:29

The icon/image/notation that separates the levels (called separators) in a breadcrumb navigation may vary but they always signify the same thing which is hierarchy.

Breadcrumbs indicate the current page’s location within a navigational hierarchy. - Bootstrap

So each level/page is inside or under the previous listed level/page. That means, in your example, Lighting is inside or is a part of All Products.

Here are a few different ways a breadcrumb navigation can represent separators: breadcrumb designs

  • I agree with your point. But doesn't it signify "or" function? Is lighting or All products.
    – NB4
    Sep 21 '17 at 5:32
  • 2
    I know that forward slash (/) is used to signify "or" but it has different meanings in different cases. We use it in URLs as well but it doesn't mean "or" there. In the context of computer folders or levels, "/" means next level in hierarchy Sep 21 '17 at 5:42

"/" is a very common symbol used in file directory structures to represent hierarchy, including your web browser URL.

Hence, it's not unusual to see it used in breadcrumb in a web site to show categories and sub categories.

Can it also represent "OR"? Of course, but it depends on the context. Used in a regular sentence like, "Name your favorite aunt/uncle", it certain means an "OR". Used in a programming language, '/" takes on different meanings, where you use "||" to represent "OR".

When the forward slash is used in a place where people normally expect to see breadcrumb, it can safely be interchanged with ">", as long as there is sufficient separation before and after.


I think when you have two levels, the slash could signify that to some people. To find any certainty about that you'll need to conduct some tests with your users. However, slashes are also used by operating systems and browsers to denote a path or hierarchy, so I would think it's equally likely that, if they don't recognize breadcrumbs, they'll recognize Lighting as a child of All Products because of the grandparent/parent/child convention used in URIs and file systems. There are many other cues on the page to support that conclusion.

I would suggest that people who have seen breadcrumbs on other sites may not even notice the slashes; they may just recognize the series of links with space and a character between them, and relate that back to the pattern they have seen before.

Again, though, the only way to find out if this really is a problem for your users is to run some usability tests and see if the slash prevents them from figuring out how to get back up the path. I suspect it doesn't.

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