I'm wondering if any one have any good knowledge about breadcrumb navigation and if you can use it as the only way to navigate backwards in a GUI (if you don't use the browser functionality)? And to navigate forward in this GUI we don't use any menu, we only use the content on the website. (Simple example below) Is it legit to expect that the user can/know how to navigate backwards through the breadcrumb, and how will this affect the workflow for the user?

Just an simple example of the flow

  • 4
    A breadcrumb doesn't necessarily navigate backwards, more 'upwards' in the site hierarchy. That's different to going back to the page the user came from. What if the user jumps from one section of the site to another, with breadcrumb navigation they wouldn't be able to get back to the referring section without using browser controls (which, to be fair, they probably would do anyway).
    – JonW
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 9:27
  • Yea it was exactly the things is asked my self, but i would really like some statistic or theories that are proving this. But a really good point of the section jumping on the site. :)
    – Wendel
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


first things first, Breadcrumbs are called that way because they are a good analogy to the trail of crumbs that Hansel dropped in the woods so that he and Gretel could find their way back home. So in the primitive form that breadcrumbs where introduced they were meant to show you the path from where you are and back to the homepage. A few years back, information behemoths like Yahoo uses effectively breadcrumbs to navigate it's enormous database listing that was built on very deep hierarchies.

To the common beliefs, breadcrumbs on their own are not a good substitute of a complete navigation scheme. They are very effective in providing navigation down a specific cognitive tree/hierarchy of similar information but not convenient for full wandering around the website. Some research has shown that users mostly use them to go back one level or find their way back to home.

Finally, some studies have shown that if you're to use them, put them at the top in a prominent place but never use them instead of a page name. Also make sure you use ">" between levels since it's the most known pattern, always highlight the last item, which is supposed to be the current page and use visual clues like "You are here" before them.

Hope that helps you go the right direction.

  • 1
    Thanks for a good answer, you don't have any good links or articles about this? like this, best practices?
    – Wendel
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 11:18
  • I really don't. I recall most of these ideas from Steve Krugs timeless "Don't Make Me Think!" book. Also this might prove to be a good read nngroup.com/articles/breadcrumb-navigation-useful
    – Thanos
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 13:25

Breadcrumbs are good for storing information. It will make easier to remember the path of the information, not only navigate around them.

It enables you to cluster the information.If you have not much information, you do not need breadcrumbs but you ll need it when you are dealing with complexity. Breadcrumbs tells a lot about how the information categorized.

Home >> Kitchen >> Appliances >> Bread machine >> Philips

is totally different site than

Bread machine >> Home - kitchen >> Philips>>

The second can have industrial bread machines too and probably more focused on only bread machines. The first one is more likely a consumer store. Your back button can not provide these subtle information.

  • Thanks for a good answer, you don't have any good links or articles about this? like this, best practices?
    – Wendel
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 11:20
  • About Face p.241 "In the Web world, the most common form of overview area is textual: the ubiquitous breadcrumb display (see Figure 11-9). Again, most breadcrumbs provide not only a navigational aid, but a navigational control as well: They not only show where in the data structure a visitor is, but they give him tools to move to different nodes in the structure in the form of links. This idiom has lost some popularity as Web sites have moved away from strictly hierarchical organizations to more associative organizations, which don’t lend themselves as neatly to breadcrumbs."
    – Abektes
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 12:52
  • @Wendel smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/17/… - this may be also helpful.
    – Abektes
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 12:53

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