Breadcrumbs including page title or no?

1 Sep 2009 - 1:54pm
5 years ago
17 replies
1560 reads
Audrey Crane
2009

I tried to make a change to a site I'm new to working on, to remove
the page title as the last element of the breadcrumb and simply treat
the title itself as the last element in the breadcrumb, including a >
last and keeping the title immediately below. I was surprised that
not only wasn't it a simple argument to make, but I met staid
refusal from the design team.

My argument was that repeating the page title is redundant, removing
anything that's redundant and isn't functional is good, especially
given the fairly busy nature of their pages, and that it's not
necessary to orient the user since the location information is clear
either way. (We have no research showing people lost or confused, but
we do have research showing people having difficulty finding things
near the top of the page, albeit only in wireframes.)

Their argument is that it's useful to reinforce where the user is,
and that since people don't focus on it unless it's needed
secondarily for navigation, it adds negligible to no visual noise to
the page. The other arguments are that it's better for SEO and we
have bigger fish to fry.

Nielsen says include it but doesn't say why
(http://www.useit.com/alertbox/breadcrumbs.html). A survey shows a
surprising lack of consistency on this issue. Apple, Don Norman's
site, and Ideo don't repeat the page title. Yahoo!, Google and
nngroup.com do.

I probably won't be able to make this change happen, but curious on
others thoughts?

Comments

1 Sep 2009 - 2:17pm
Joe Lanman
2007

I think that including the current page title makes it totally clear that
this is a trail to the current page. Breadcrumbs are sometimes prefaced by
'you are here' which is possibly redundant if you include the current page
title. Without the current title the breadcrumbs would mean 'these are the
levels above the current page' which isn't such a straightforward concept.

Joe Lanman

---

http://formd.net

1 Sep 2009 - 2:32pm
Anonymous

The Buddha says, "wherever you go, there you are." He also says
that very few users rely on breadcrumbs to navigate or get themselves
"oriented" within the site: they only care about a fluid nav to
where they need to go (present page) and to the next place (sometimes
back, sometimes not). That said, I agree with Joe that redundancy is
good within this context. Providing additional navigational
cues/links to allow the user to get back to any "main" pages is
even better.

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1 Sep 2009 - 3:34pm
Audrey Crane
2009

But if it isn't clear (that this is where you are), shouldn't there
be better ways of making it clear than providing a redundant
non-functional element?

Maybe with the You Are Here: and including that last >?

I might test this. I'll let y'all know if I can sneak it into a
usability study and what the results are.

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1 Sep 2009 - 3:45pm
Anonymous

I believe your designers have the right conclusion, but the wrong reason.

Bread crumbs are typically displayed as minor
reference items, and should be complete. The
page title is typically more central.

So we might have a page that looks like this

Repairs | Plumbing |
Toilets | Adjusting the toilet water level

Adjusting the toilet water level

Having just part of the bread crumb line would be
confusing, violates an implicit standard, and
really doesn't cut down on any clutter. The
bread crumb line as it stands show the user
exactly how he or she got here -- not how they got almost here.

My 2c, for what it's worth.

(Of course the real test is user testing ... but
I'd wager users really would be disturbed to find partial bread crumbs.)

---------------------------------------------------
How do users experience your Progress® application?
Are they productive? Does it matter? Do you care?
---------------------------------------------------
=======================================================
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Listening to users, and designing interfaces that work!
Consulting and Training in Progress® Call 207.615.5722
=======================================================

1 Sep 2009 - 4:43pm
Chad Jennings
2004

Audrey, I can totally empathize with desire to simplify, simplify,
simplify. There is some credence to the SEO argument as having a
redundancy between the URL, page title (as shown on browser),
headline, and breadcrumbs (or sub header) are variables in improving
page rank.

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1 Sep 2009 - 7:27pm
Ben Woods
2008

I would keep the current page title at the end of the breadcrumb trail in
addition to the title.

Users may not mentally link a title that is separated from the breadcrumb.
It's a good 'you are here' tool, but without the current page at the end,
it's more like 'you're in this section'.

Putting 'You are here' at the beginning of the breadcrumb trail may be a
good idea - I think it depends on the ability of your users.

On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 10:43 AM, Chad Jennings <cjennings at blurb.com> wrote:

> Audrey, I can totally empathize with desire to simplify, simplify,
> simplify. There is some credence to the SEO argument as having a
> redundancy between the URL, page title (as shown on browser),
> headline, and breadcrumbs (or sub header) are variables in improving
> page rank.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45266
>
>
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1 Sep 2009 - 10:35pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 1, 2009, at 2:43 PM, Chad Jennings wrote:

> Audrey, I can totally empathize with desire to simplify, simplify,
> simplify. There is some credence to the SEO argument as having a
> redundancy between the URL, page title (as shown on browser),
> headline, and breadcrumbs (or sub header) are variables in improving
> page rank.

Actually, they are not. That's a myth. Their is no evidence to suggest
that redundancy between those factors increases page rank.

Jared

1 Sep 2009 - 10:37pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 1, 2009, at 11:54 AM, Audrey Crane wrote:

> Their argument is that it's useful to reinforce where the user is,
> and that since people don't focus on it unless it's needed
> secondarily for navigation, it adds negligible to no visual noise to
> the page.

Breadcrumbs are a design cop-out. That's my opinion.

http://www.uie.com/articles/breadcrumbs/

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

1 Sep 2009 - 2:28pm
Scott Chappell
2009

I think some amount of redundant navigation is ok...and breadcrumbs
specifically are a place where navigation redundancy is fine. You
can make a case for or against redundant navigation depending on the
site, the purpose of the site, and the site visitor profile. What is
the nature of the site? Do you have a screenshot / wireframe of the
page to share?

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2 Sep 2009 - 6:52am
Joe Lanman
2007

If your site structure is well thought out and not too complex, I think it
can be helpful to display it to the user through breadcrumbs, especially if
they spend a lot of time in the system and it would benefit them to learn
the structure.

Take URLs for instance - at the very least users can see what domain they're
in - useful for security, and if they go directly to that domain they'll get
the home page. Well structured URLs further this idea:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/01/climate-change-poll

I know from this URL that http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment will show me
general environment news. I'm not saying novice users will pick this up
straight away, but for people who use a system intensively, it's an
efficient way to convey structure.

2009/9/1 Scott Chappell <scott at notesondesign.net>

> I think some amount of redundant navigation is ok...and breadcrumbs
> specifically are a place where navigation redundancy is fine. You
> can make a case for or against redundant navigation depending on the
> site, the purpose of the site, and the site visitor profile. What is
> the nature of the site? Do you have a screenshot / wireframe of the
> page to share?
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
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>
>
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2 Sep 2009 - 12:10pm
Paul Bryan
2008

Do you feel confused right now? Because the page you are viewing has
no breadcrumbs. (I know, skewed sample).

Breadcrumbs should be used as a means to reduce ambiguity and/or
provide convenient access to higher levels within the organizational
structure. You can get a rough feeling for the awareness/utility of
your title breadcrumb by the volume of cllickthrough's on the
breadcrumb's active links.

Depending on the design system and technical execution, page title
breadcrumbs can cause some problems. I've been in situations where
extra-long title breadcrumbs have crowded out right side page
functions, like print or email page, which got pushed down a couple
of rows, which in turn pushed meaningful content below the fold. The
breadcrumb was detrimental in that case, because the questionable
redundancy reduced visibility of meaningful information.

I've also seen situations where the breadcrumb title and the page
title were slightly different, and that really confused users.

Redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. One person's redundancy
is another person's confirmation. If the title breadcrumb is not
causing any problems there's no need to spend LOE fixing it.

Paul Bryan
Usography
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/uxexperts

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2 Sep 2009 - 12:45pm
Audrey Crane
2009

Thank you for your thoughtful replies.

I don't agree that including page titles in breadcrumbs is a
standard -- lots of sites do it, but many don't. If Apple isn't
doing it, can it really be a standard? ;-)

With a visually-related title and breadcrumb (alignment, proximity,
>, etc.) I cannot imagine people thinking, or saying in usability,
"Where am I? How did I get here? How do I get back to the main
page?" whether the breadcrumb includes the page title or not. If
they do, we have bigger problems than a breadcrumb. I guess leaning
towards Jared's argument -- if they're really that critical,
something is wrong. (And if they're not needed altogether, that
certainly does beg the question...)

Of course people may have more of a vague sense than a clearly-formed
question, but I'm going to ponder how to test this. I'm really
curious to try to manifest a response to having the page title or not
in usability. (Any thoughts?)

I agree with you Paul. I had no idea I'd spend any energy at all on
this, honestly. Thought it was a simple change that everyone would
agree with. (I should know by now, any time I have a thought that
starts with, "I'll just...", I'm probably in for it.)

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2 Sep 2009 - 12:55pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

Re: redundancy -- "That's redundant" is a criticism that never makes much
sense to me. This isn't the physical world we're dealing with. Efficiency is
not gained through avoidance of redundant page elements.
If a title is restated in the nav and the body of the page, I'm not sure how
it hurts the user experience.

(This isn't to say that breadcrumbs are helpful/not helpful -- that's a
different discussion.)

-Anne

On Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 6:10 AM, paul bryan <paul at usography.com> wrote:

> Do you feel confused right now? Because the page you are viewing has
> no breadcrumbs. (I know, skewed sample).
>
> Breadcrumbs should be used as a means to reduce ambiguity and/or
> provide convenient access to higher levels within the organizational
> structure. You can get a rough feeling for the awareness/utility of
> your title breadcrumb by the volume of cllickthrough's on the
> breadcrumb's active links.
>
> Depending on the design system and technical execution, page title
> breadcrumbs can cause some problems. I've been in situations where
> extra-long title breadcrumbs have crowded out right side page
> functions, like print or email page, which got pushed down a couple
> of rows, which in turn pushed meaningful content below the fold. The
> breadcrumb was detrimental in that case, because the questionable
> redundancy reduced visibility of meaningful information.
>
> I've also seen situations where the breadcrumb title and the page
> title were slightly different, and that really confused users.
>
> Redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. One person's redundancy
> is another person's confirmation. If the title breadcrumb is not
> causing any problems there's no need to spend LOE fixing it.
>
> Paul Bryan
> Usography
> Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/uxexperts
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45266
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne.hj at gmail.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj

2 Sep 2009 - 3:40pm
Audrey Crane
2009

Outside of the breadcrumb conversation altogether, and assuming that
simpler is better where simpler is reasonable, feasible, etc.
redundant is simple shorthand for "this is already here and it's
not adding value precisely because it's already here".

If one thing is doing something different from the other then by
definition they're not redundant:

re·dun·dant
1. Exceeding what is necessary or natural; superfluous.
2. Needlessly wordy or repetitive in expression

I think (and see in research) that efficiency *is* gained because
people have to parse less stuff to find what they want...

> "That's redundant" is a criticism that never makes much sense to
me. This isn't the physical world we're dealing with. Efficiency is
not gained through avoidance of redundant page elements.

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2 Sep 2009 - 4:07pm
Erin Lynn Young
2009

Whether or not you should include them is one question. It seems that
you've already decided that you should.

How to implement them is what you're asking.

"You Are Here" is not necessary if the trail clearly ends with the
page that you're currently on. I recommend leaving it unlinked so
its clear that its your current location.

It serves 2 purposes:
1) Anchoring the rest of the breadcrumb and clarifying what it the
breadcrumb actually is. (Otherwise could be mistaken for page
history, etc.)
2) Positioning the PAGE YOU'RE ON is within the greater site
hierarchy. That's the basis of a hierarchical breadcrumb, but it
becomes a little convoluted if the page you're on is not included in
the hierarchy you show.

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2 Sep 2009 - 6:02pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Sep 2, 2009, at 10:45 AM, Audrey Crane wrote:

> Of course people may have more of a vague sense than a clearly-formed
> question, but I'm going to ponder how to test this. I'm really
> curious to try to manifest a response to having the page title or not
> in usability. (Any thoughts?)

Audrey,

If, by "in usability", you mean "in a usability study", I can help.
(If that's not what you meant, then I don't know what you're referring
to, since usability is an adjective.)

You can't use a traditional formative usability study, since you can't
control the need for breadcrumbs. You have to construct a study that's
more analytical, that compares treatment options in a controlled
fashion.

To study something like the effectiveness of a specific design
treatment of breadcrumbs, you first need to understand what your
behavioral objective for the breadcrumbs are. What behaviors are you
trying to elicit?

For example, If the behavior is mental model development (in other
words, the users have a better idea of where they are within the
structure of the site), then you can show people sample pages with the
breadcrumbs and ask them to draw a diagram of the structure of the
site. (If you want to do this as a controlled study, then you can
repeat the activity by showing the control group pages without the
breadcrumbs and see if their diagrams are different. And if you really
want to get all study-crazy, you can then followup with a task-driven
study and see if people who were exposed to the breadcrumbs perform
better on the site than people who weren't.)

Another example: If the behavior is error recovery (aka I-don't-know-
how-I-ended-up-here-and-need-to-get-out), then you can drop people
onto random pages (the way they might if they clicked on a link in a
search engine) and ask them how they'd navigate to a target page. You
could see if the breadcrumbs get them anywhere useful.

In either case, showing the participants breadcrumbs with or without
the titles in a controlled fashion (either a within- or between-
subjects study would probably work fine), would tell you which
treatment performed better.

If you have other behavioral objectives, then, depending on what you
want people to do with the information, it would be fairly easy to
design the study.

Of course, these would not be cheap studies to execute. You'll need a
lot of participants to control for the various interfering variables
involved (domain knowledge, tool knowledge, experience with
technology, education level, performance anxiety issue, and others).
It'll take a decent stats person to clean up the data and report any
conclusive results.

And here's the kicker: if your results are like our results, you'll
find that virtually nothing you do with breadcrumbs will make a
difference. So, I'm predicting that after all that effort, you'll find
that you've not discovered any benefit to either treatment.

Our studies show that people don't form any better mental models about
the site when they encounter breadcrumbs than when they don't. (Our
studies also show that users don't need a representative mental model
of the site structure to successfully complete tasks on a site, so
breadcrumbs aren't really solving a problem here.)

Our studies also show that breadcrumbs are not the best treatment for
error recovery. More explicit links (the best being 7 to 12 words in
length) work significantly better. Of course, you're still treating
the symptom. It's better to solve the problem and prevent the user
from needing to recover from an error.

Hope that helps,

2 Sep 2009 - 10:30pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

>I think (and see in research) that efficiency *is* gained because
people have to parse less stuff to find what they want...
I'd argue that people are parsing an entire page design, which can be
something that is done well with "redundant" labels (or not) -- it's a
function of context and the judgment of the person doing the design. And
there I will let this rest.

-Anne

On Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 9:40 AM, Audrey Crane <audcrane at gmail.com> wrote:

> Outside of the breadcrumb conversation altogether, and assuming that
> simpler is better where simpler is reasonable, feasible, etc.
> redundant is simple shorthand for "this is already here and it's
> not adding value precisely because it's already here".
>
> If one thing is doing something different from the other then by
> definition they're not redundant:
>
> re·dun·dant
> 1. Exceeding what is necessary or natural; superfluous.
> 2. Needlessly wordy or repetitive in expression
>
> I think (and see in research) that efficiency *is* gained because
> people have to parse less stuff to find what they want...
>
> > "That's redundant" is a criticism that never makes much sense to
> me. This isn't the physical world we're dealing with. Efficiency is
> not gained through avoidance of redundant page elements.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45266
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne.hj at gmail.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj

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