Should a website that keeps track of 'Breadcrumbs' need to provide a back button, or similar means of returning to the parent page on each 'subpage'?

To give a visual example:

Here is my main page

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Navigate to a subpage

enter image description here

In the the above page, should the "Change Username" page provide a back button to "Account Information"? I have played around with designs of a back button and have not found any that jived with the layout. They all look very redundant. But that can always be worked out. At the same time to leave the user with just a breadcrumb to navigate back to "Account Information" also seemed a bit weak.

As an alternative to the 'Back Button' scenario I'm also proposing implementing a permanent link to the index page to make it more visible to the user and allow them to return to it from the submenu and not the breadcrumbs. But I'm not sure what to call it - "Index", "View <subsection>", "Home" all seem odd to me.

enter image description here

Now in this scenario, the 'index' page would be what is navigated to when the user clicks on the "Account Information" breadcrumb, so they will never be able to return to that level.

enter image description here

So to summarize:

Is it ok to have Breadcrumbs be the main form of returning to a parent page? and if not: should the index page be made visible or a back button implemented?

  • Why do you have separate page parts for such simple editing tasks (simple from a user perspective, at least)? Why not have inline editing features directly on the Account info overview?
    – agib
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 13:41
  • Inline editing was considered but ultimately discarded and a separate form for each page was used. The separate page offers more celerity to the intended purpose, Information landing page is just for viewing information; And the limited number of elements that can be edited will have links in a sub menu, not seemingly randomly placed next to or by the associated field.
    – rlemon
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 14:00
  • and When I say considered.. I mean implemented, reviewed, mulled over some more, talked about, taken out, put back in, talked about some more, dropped (it was a busy afternoon :P) .
    – rlemon
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


How about something like this. Indenting submenus can make a lot of difference.

Keep the breadcrumb but have the submenu look more like this:

When the user is in the main Accounts page

enter image description here

When the user is in the Change Password page

enter image description here

The problem with using "Index" is that it probably doesn't mean much to users.

  • now the page before that is 'Dashboard' witch opens 'Account Information' but has other 'submenu' links similar to that of 'Account Information', so for consistency I had not put a link to the landing page(index). your suggested design would be more consistent with a tree menu would it not?
    – rlemon
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 3:25
  • Your example above suggests that "Account Information" has a submenu as well, mainly because "Account Information" is a separate page from "change username, change email" etc. When a user from the dashboard clicks on "Account Information", it should default to this page with the item on the menu highlighted. Combining these pages could also be another solution to declutter the navigation.
    – Ely Solano
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 3:40
  • Technically, its not really a tree menu. It shouldn't expand or collapse, it's more about adding the necessary styling to suggest that there is a separate "Account Information" page if by chance they land on "Change Username" first. The link on the breadcrumb for some users may not be enough
    – Ely Solano
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 4:07
  • that is why I thought of the 'back' button... I am still looking at your idea here though. Once I get a chance to see how it looks and feels I'll get back to you.
    – rlemon
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 4:14
  • On page 'back buttons' get confusing in my view. The back button should be the browser control.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 17:53

I would recommend NOT to have breadcrumb, since there is not much sophisticated patterns that or deep-links that helps to have breadcrumbs.

Your left panel navigation looks suitable to the context, which can handle navigation easily. Browser back button should be used alternatively. But a prominent left panel will drive users effectively to move across quickly. The way this panel is designed will solve your problem.

Thirdly, your renaming part of "Index", this could be "Account details" or "Personal details", "Your details". This could be spatially segregated from the other "Change or Edit" items, may be have a title for them as

View Account Details

Edit Account Details

-Change Password

-Change xxxx

Try to bring in visual design to structurally strengthen the way left panel or the navigation panel looks. Demarcate with a thin divider or a BG for the left panel, so it stands out and keeps away clutter.

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