Best of Breadcrumbs and How They Enhance Your Website

Breadcrumb navigation offers a visually enticing way for users to keep track and know where they’re specifically located as they navigate your site. Overall, it increases the usability of your website, especially if it has various pages that need to be organized and structured in a certain hierarchical order.

More than often breadcrumbs are usually styled horizontally and can be pretty hard to miss if created effectively. This provides the user with easy access and can either show their path, location or attribute (which we will discuss further below).

Why Use Them?

There are various reasons why anyone would use breadcrumbs, one of the top choices is the massive gain in usability which allows the user to freely move up or down within your site’s hierarchy with little or no issue. Not only that, but it’ll be easier for them to track their location and eliminate repetitive actions (such as using the main navigation and the browsers back button over and over).

A majority of navigation menus are not designed to leave a “breadcrumb trail” for the user to follow making it harder for them to track where they’re currently at within all the pages of a website.

Some breadcrumbs are also easy on the eyes due to their usually appealing designs that grab a users attention with very little effort. This gives way to a smoother and effective navigation process that uses up a small portion of the screen.

When Do We Need Them?

Now that we’ve covered the why, we’ll be covering the when to use breadcrumb navigation.

Use breadcrumbs when…

  • Your users are likely to land on any given page from an external site.
  • You’re looking to integrate an element that can be used as a secondary navigation which provides further details.
  • The website thrives on a hierarchical structure that delivers content in a similar manner.
  • You have pages that are nested deep into the hierarchical structure of your site and can’t be visually seen within the main navigation menu or by any other means except a secondary navigation.
  • You’d like to provide your users with a way to track their location and easily browse back to a higher level within your websites hierarchy.

It’s not recommend for you to use a breadcrumb navigation if you have a website that has no hierarchical structure and could benefit the most from a simple navigation menu. As much as breadcrumbs can help, they can also cause damage to the usability of your website if used incorrectly.

Diving Into Its Mechanism

Breadcrumbs seem simple enough to integrate into your website, right? Not necessarily. Just as there are different types of navigation menus that service certain types of websites, there are different types of breadcrumbs that can be used specifically for the type of content structure your website was developed for.

As promised we will cover the three different types of breadcrumbs we briefly spoke of within the introduction. The first one is a path based breadcrumb that shows the user the exact steps they’ve taken in order to reach their current location. This dynamic breadcrumb trail will always give a user the option to backtrack wherever they’ve come from and how they got to the specific page their on.

The second type of breadcrumb is location based, it lets the user know where they’re at within the websites hierarchy. Normally they will used wherever there’s a plethora of pages that are assigned to a specific region within a website.

And the third is an attribute breadcrumb which gives the user useful information that will categorize the page they’re currently on. In example, a user could be navigating through a clothing website, once the user reaches an item they click on it and that takes them to another page where they have a variety of options such as style, color, fabric and more.

Each of these options have their own page and when chosen, the user will be transported to another page that has further options. Now you can say that the pages which contain the style, colors and fabrics are an attribute of the item chosen.

The Showcase

Guardian ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

The Glasgow Collective ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Wufoo ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Girl Scouts ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Delicious ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Apple ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Yahoo! TV ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

CoolSpotters ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Hillside Group ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

BubbleStick ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Crooked Tongues ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Mia & Maggie ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Target ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Design Collectors ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Bell ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Nasa ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Ideo ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Bridge 55 ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Nestle ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Marchand Trucs ↓

Breadcrumbs Example - Showcase

Your Turn To Talk

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a thing or two about breadcrumb navigation. Please feel free to chime in by leaving a comment below :)


  1. says

    I’m glad that The Guardian made it into your list, it is by far the best designed newspaper. And I know that Mark Porter designs to the finest dot! I have worked in the same design studio as him so I know!

  2. says

    I know about the path based breadcrumb but I have no idea about the location based breadcrumb. Could you give me some few examples? Thanks :)

  3. says

    Never been a big fan of breadcrumbs, but seeing some interesting ways of laying them out I might use them more often. Really like Wufoo use of the crumbs great colours.

  4. says

    From previous experience the best breadcrumbs are the plain text ones. Over-designing them makes the user loose the “tree” feeling sometimes. Otherwise, great samples!

  5. says

    Interesting article. Some comments:

    The “When do we need them?” guidelines apply to location and attribute breadcrumbs, not so much to path breadcrumbs. (Path breadcrumbs are useless, for example, when you reach a lower-level page from outside the site.) The examples are beautiful, and would be even more helpful if they were grouped into the three types of breadcrumbs.

    The identification and description of the three types of breadcrumbs come from Keith Instone’s work, which merits a citation in any discussion of this topic:

    See also Angela Colter’s work on how people use breadcrumbs:

  6. says

    So including breadcrumbs on a site is a good idea because of the resulting “massive gain in usability?” Do you have any data to support that claim? If so, I’d love to see it.

  7. says

    Thanks for the mention of path, location and attribute breadcrumbs. I first starting using those terms in 2002 to help us talk about this navigation feature (regardless of your opinion of them). Here are the original thoughts on it – – glad the terms are still useful today, still helping foster good discussions.


  1. Best of Breadcrumbs and How They Enhance Your Website…

    Breadcrumb navigation offers a visually enticing way for users to keep track and know where they’re specifically located as they navigate your site….

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