My site contains a list of reports that a user can browse. The main navigation of the site is done through a left-aligned menu. This is a mockup of the layout:

enter image description here

The report name which they are currently viewing is highlighted and the page title changes to the report name. This menu is always visible (no pop-in or pop-out).

I've ALSO got a breadcrumb on the report page itself. This lives in a fixed toolbar which is stuck to the top of the report so the user can scroll through the report and always see the toolbar.

Given that the navigation menu is always visible and highlighted I'm tempted to get rid of the breadcrumbs as it's duplicating the functionality of the menu. I could use the space in the toolbar that this takes up.

EDIT: I should add that the navigation is never deeper than "Reports > Report N".

Is this too much reinforcement of the user's current context? Or is leaving that breadcrumb a good idea?

  • 2
    Given the left menu is a tree menu, is there really a need for breadcrumbs? A tree menu is, essentially, vertical breadcrumbs
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:34
  • @DA01: precisely what I'm trying to work out. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:46
  • What problem do you feel the breadcrumbs are solving? Does the tree menu solve the same problem? If so, you probably don't need the breadcrumbs.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 17:35

4 Answers 4


Lose the breadcrumbs ...

... and you are fine :


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

As @DA01 said:

Given the left menu is a tree menu, is there really a need for breadcrumbs? A tree menu is, essentially, vertical breadcrumbs

  • 2
    Agreed. Importantly, if the user clicked on the tree in order to load the view on the right, then you already have a positive affirmation that the user is aware of the position of the page inside the nav hierarchy.
    – tohster
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 22:40
  • What if the navigation menu tab on the left collapses? Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:02
  • @Dev-Wizard - Then you still have top level items, just like any other treeview. Outlook being a good example. Not to mention, you still have the item's title in viewer pane. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 12:04
  • 2
    @tohster: I think that's the conclusion I was looking for. Also, the top level items are highlighted if one of their children is selected. So even if the tree is collapsed the user can still see which section (Report) they are still in. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:14
  • 1
    Great! Glad I could help you!! Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 20:18

I would prefer to have the Breadcrumbs. As a user for me the LHN is telling me the list of the available reports, whereas the breadcrumb is about the exact report i'm looking at.

Breadcrumb helps to give a clear direction for the users, if there are any sub-reports available within REPORT 1 (as in your scrnshot)


What makes you think bread crumbs are bad idea? The details on it is essential for the user to know target page. Especially when the navigation menu tab on the left is collapsed.

  • I don't think I said they were a bad idea, just that I thought it might be too much of the same information. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:47
  • But it's only the essential information. In case of you feel is too much and it's in a big hierarchy, provide the previous menu alone (from where it got redirected) Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:51

if they don't affect your design negatively, just leave both. Most users knows what a breadcrumb is since they use it in their computers and they know the breadcrumb is a path they can follow (hence the breadcrumb term).

However, your left navigation is more of a question mark in terms of usability, because, by definition, you can take "jumps", thus you're not forced to follow the path. While this is a pretty common and understandable behavior by most people, it's not 100% bullet proof if you use sequential names.

For example, your root is REPORT and then you have REPORT 1 (and so on). However, when you're already in REPORT 1, some people may think that Report 1 is the root and your sidebar navigation will go to some sub-report of Report 1, like "this is report 2 from Report 1"

Of course, it's easier for users if reports have more accurate names instead of "Report [number]", but again, if you can have both options without affecting your design, then keep both. It won't hurt, only help

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