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I'm currently working on a website with a huge amount of content, exploring how breadcrumbs can be used more effectively. The website uses very traditional breadcrumbs currently: One > Two > Three > Current page.

However, I've come across this method used on Twitter's dev documentation: https://dev.twitter.com/overview/documentation. Interestingly they've turned each level of breadcrumb into its own dropdown navigation.

I'm wondering if there is any research/best practice/general thoughts around this approach (or something similar) that I can refer further to? I'm interested in this approach, but I'm not completely convinced of its usability. Particularly for users who aren't strong with technology.

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    Just my $0.02 but I think your last sentence is the key focus. That page is made for devs, people who are good with technology. The average user has trouble with standard breadcrumbs I imagine this would be worse. Complexity = Confusion. – DasBeasto Sep 4 '15 at 15:50
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    On Twitter, they effectively combined main menu and breadcrumbs. Actually users shouldn't be strong at the technology. The visual appearence tells everything. Also pay attention to the animation of the last breadcrumbs' item, which is a signifier of the interactivity. – Alexey Kolchenko Sep 4 '15 at 16:14
  • Ins't that about the same pattern that Windows Explorer uses in its address bar since (at least?) Windows Vista, i.e. since 2007? – O. R. Mapper Sep 7 '15 at 7:52
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Anything non-traditional, no matter how convenient, requires the user to learn the new behaviour. Avoid using them for most websites where users are simply visitors who are browsing for content. For applications, or interactive experiences, though, sometimes it makes sense to use non-traditional techniques.


In a past project, we've used this approach for a web-based internal application for the following reasons

  • Users need to switch between various fullscreen sub applications
  • Users need to process large quantity of data within the app. Speed is highly important
  • Users will be spending majority of the day within the app, slight learning curve is acceptable if it increases their productivity

If any of those reasons aren't there, we wouldn't have used it in the app.

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