I'm currently beginning with the development of a new web application. The whole web application is going to be bookmarkable and all the pages accesible via GET requests and url parameters. Having said that, let's suppose I've got three entities in my application, Customer, Team and City. Each Customer and Team belong to a city and I've got a city-detail page which displays the detail for a concrete city. So next navigation cases are possible:

Customers -> Customer detail (id=2) -> City detail (id=3)

Football teams -> Team detail (id=5) -> City detail (id=3)

Cities -> City detail (id=3)

There are three possible ways of ending up in a city detail view. My question is, does it make sense to implement a breadcrumb to show such a history, having it available in the browser itself? Would it be more appropiate to show a breadcrumb with the last case, no matter where we're coming from (hierarchical breadcrumb)?

That's what Jakob Nielsen points out here:

Offering users a Hansel-and-Gretel-style history trail is basically useless, because it simply duplicates functionality offered by the Back button, which is the Web’s second-most-used feature.

A history trail can also be confusing: users often wander in circles or go to the wrong site sections. Having each point in a confused progression at the top of the current page doesn’t offer much help.

Finally, a history trail is useless for users who arrive directly at a page deep within the site.

Also, even if the history trail seems the most natural way to implement it, it requires an extra effort to keep the whole track being HTTP a stateless mean.

  • Nielsen may be right from a technical point of view. Though fact is that users (especially the not so technical affine) like the things. They just help them to remember what they have done a few mouseclicks before reaching the page (that for the hierarchy type makes more sense). Aug 18, 2014 at 12:14
  • This question has been asked and answered at UX.SE: Are breadcrumbs still in?
    – gnat
    Aug 18, 2014 at 13:38
  • 2
    As an aside, I've never considered breadcrumbs to be, as Nielsen puts it, "a Hansel-and-Gretel-style history trail", and therefore redundant with browser history. I always thought breadcrumbs are supposed to show users where they are (in your site's hierarchy), not how they got there.
    – Eric King
    Aug 18, 2014 at 16:13


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