March 26, 2002

Breadcrumbs > Breadcrumbs > Breadcrumbs
Keith Instone, previously thought to be hiding out in a cave in Afghanistan due to his silence, surfaces once again to provide the usual "Instone Insight". Keith recently made a few of the goodies from his poster at IA Summit 2002 available. He does a good job of cataloging different types of breadcrumbs, what they're used for, and examples of each. Here are the 3 types he covers:
  1. Location Breadcrumbs: show the position of the page in the site hierarchy. Tell the user "where" they are in the site.
  2. Path Breadcrumbs: show the path the user has taken within the site to get to the current page. Help the user navigation "back" the way the came.
  3. Attribute Breadcrumbs: provide meta-information and navigation to related areas/products. Also used in search results to help explain what type of thing a particular result represents.
Attribute breadcrumbs were a type I've never seen well explained, so I found that especially interesting. Keith also asked a very good question about Path breadcrumbs, basically whether or not we need to manage the user's history on a site since web browsers already provide a history and a "back" function. An exception might be when you're using faceted classification and a page doesn't really have one specific residence in a hierarchy -- navigation is dynamically created based on metadata.

(Keith Instone is the owner and mastermind behind the highly useful Usable Web.)

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