So I am creating a new site and would like to have some sort of easy navigation bar for the user, you know the type...

Stack overflow >> Web Design >> What is more useful on a...

And if you click on ''Web Design'' it takes you back to that level, or if you click ''Stack Overflow'' it takes you back to that point in the hierarchy.

But then I thought maybe people are more interested in where they have been, such as a:

Web design >> Topic 1 >> Web design >> topic 2

etc. This has obvious repetition flaws, and can sometimes make site navigation confusing, but its nice because sometime you are like 'oh i want to be back there but how did I get here?'.

I think the second method is more confusing in some circumstances, but its faster. The first gives more structure and makes more sense to the user but will be slower and has the potential to lose places you have been.

In terms of site design and user experience, what experiences have people had with either of these, and what is the better choice from a web design point of view?

Note: I am not looking for opinion, I am looking for experiences people have had when building their own sites and what solutions have worked best.

  • What exactly is the difference between a "history bar" and breadcrumb navigation? If what you're describing isn't breadcrumbs, I predict users are going to mistake it for breadcrumbs and attempt to use it as a granular step-by-step(back) navigational aid. – dennislees Feb 8 '18 at 4:27

Breadcrumbs can be based on location, path or attribute. The choice between these options depend on how users land on your site and your business goals. A rule of thumb for breadcrumbs is to show the site hierarchy, not the user’s history.

Location based breadcrumb

This type of breadcrumb supports users who enters the site in a deeper level from an external source (e.g. search engine results). These users need to be informed of their location in relation to the entire site hierarchy, because they have no previous contexts to work with. Showing only the level above the current page is a highly used approach to this type of breadcrumb, because it keeps things compact and relevant. People usually don't travel much further back than 1 to 2 levels at a time.

Path based breadcrumbs

Path-based breadcrumbs (also known as a “history trail”) show the entire path traveled by the user to reach on a particular page. Sometimes path-based breadcrumbs can be helpful, but the most time they’re puzzling — visitors often browse very wildly, jumping from one page to the other. Having such a meandering path doesn’t offer much help for user and can be easily replaced by a “Back” button in the browser.

For usability reasons this type of breadcrumb is used least, because it has almost no added value.

Attribute based breadcrumb

Attribute-based breadcrumb lists the categories to the specific page or most often product — as this kind of breadcrumb type are useful for e-commerce sites. This type of breadcrumbs helps the visitors to understand the relationship of products and offers a different approach.

This means you can add filters like 'slim fit' or 'little black dress' to a breadcrumb. useful for e-commerce especially.

In your case, the use of location based breadcrumbs seem to fit your users' needs best. You can opt for showing the entire path or just the level above. Remember that breadcrumbs are a secondary type of navigation and a fallback. You still need a good primary navigation first and foremost.

More on how to use breadcrumbs here.


If you have main navigation which is quickly accessible and with that, if you have breadcrumb, that is what I believe is quick.

Top level navigation will tell you where to go first, and the history part covered mostly by breadcrumb.

As per my opinion, I do not think about history (How I browse, which page I have clicked so far, etc) when I am browsing or looking for something on a website. If the user needs to go deeper, provide search facility which is again quick option.



If you want to show user's website browsing history, you better introduce a side bar with recently visited page in descending order rather than using breadcrumbs for that purpose.


A “breadcrumb” (or “breadcrumb trail”) is a type of secondary navigation scheme that reveals the user’s location in a website or Web application.


To maintain good UX you should use appropriate elements where required.

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