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Leaving Breadcrumbs

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Hansel and Gretel dropped breadcrumbs to find their way back home; this fairy tale is the inspiration for the technical breadcrumb.  Websites with multiple pages include (or should include) breadcrumbs to help visitors find their way around the site more easily and intuitively.

Breadcrumbs tell a visitor to your site where he has been. This makes it easy to backtrack then. Say, for instance, you are looking at Apparel. You click into Women’s, and from there to Outerwear.  You browse around and want to look at jeans next. You simply click back on “Women’s” in your breadcrumb trail, which is usually located horizontally at the top of the page.  These are “path breadcrumbs.” There are also static and attribute versions.

How do you install breadcrumbs into place?

  1. Look at the content on your site, and categorize them (i.e., Home, New Items, Contacts, About, Locations, Sale, etc.).
  2. Determine if you can break the categories into smaller subcategories. For instance, under “New Items,” do you have outerwear and lounge wear? Yoga and athletic wear?  Your breadcrumb would be structured like this: Home > New Items > Yoga clothes > Brand X yoga pants.
  3. Assign each page of the site to a specific category or subcategory.
  4. Now you will need to translate the breadcrumbs into HTML. To use our yoga pants example one more time: <a href=””>Home</a>> <a href=””<New Items</a>><a href=””>Yoga Clothes</a>>Brand X Yoga Pants

If your site is complex, it is a good idea to offer this alternative form of navigation to your users.  Single level sites need not worry about breadcrumbs but any site can benefit from ensuring their navigation is understandable, easy, and effective.

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