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I have a list of Widgets that can be filtered by their State (Active, Pending, and Deactivated). The default view when navigating to this list is the Active State (and page 1):

widgets list

Switching the State shows different Widgets in the list in the selected State.

Clicking on the name of the Widget shows the Widget. For example, when State is Active and the name of the Widget is clicked, the Widget is shown:

show active widget

When viewing the page for the Widget (regardless of its state), it's possible to go back to the list of Widgets via the Widgets link in the breadcrumb. This will always reset back to the page 1 of the Active State's list. When testing this out, this flow felt time consuming when updating multiple Widgets with State = Pending: go to Pending, find the Widget and click it, change the attributes, click Update Widget, click Widgets in the breadcrumb, and finally click Pending again to find the next Widget. This was alright for just selecting the specific State I has previously selected, but it's made worse when pagination is added to the mix (and even more so with the ability to search which is part of the real-world scenario).

Should the breadcrumb be structured so that it includes the current state of the Widget so that it's possible to go back to the list of the current State? For example:

show active widget with nested breadcrumb

I've tested this by clicking around and it feels a little weird. It's even more weird with pagination since it'd still go back to page 1. Also, when viewing a Widget with State = Active, it's possible to Deactivate the Widget. This does a POST-Redirect-GET and shows the updated view of the Widget (changing the breadcrumb from Active to Deactivated:

deactivated widget

If I don't include a nested breadcrumb of the current State, does a user know to use their browser's back button to ... uh, go back to their previous filter? Maybe this is obvious with how other sites behave?

The State button bar and the pagination at the bottom are both filters of all possible Widgets. Can having a breadcrumb like this cause the user to get lost? Do they understand how they got to that page or does it even matter to them given that the back button is available?

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It's very interesting subject you are asking about. I must say that I've never appreciated breadcrumbs that directly show your path, e.g. if I'm searching widget shop for a weather widget I'd get:

Home > Search results for 'weather widget' > Best weather widget

It's useless for me as the 'back' functionality of the browser works just fine.
What I really appreciate is when I click an item in the search results, the breadcrumbs show the 'official' way of reaching the item, i.e.:

Home > Surroundings > News & info > Weather > Weather widgets > Best weather widget

This way if I don't like the particular widget I have chosen I can always go back to my search results by using the 'history, back' functionality, but I can also browse through 'Weather widgets' category and find out that the best weather widget is called 'Let the sunshine in' (how would you find it with keywords?)

Long story short, I wouldn't duplicate a well-working functionality ('history, back') with the breadcrumbs but rather use the breadcrumbs to create some added value for the user (show user's location in the category three).

  • What do you think about scenarios when the item page is updated via a post-redirect-get and there are two pages in the history for the item now? So, if the user wants to update an attribute, and then go back to their filter/page/search results, they have to click back twice. – TheCloudlessSky May 1 '18 at 16:19
  • That's an interesting question - in such case I'd keep the breadcrumbs I've proposed and place a link "Back to search results" next to it (or in some other visible place) with respective functionality. – Mike May 1 '18 at 20:03

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