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Are Breadcrumbs still a Thing in 2019?

14 days ago from , Creative Director at Sova Magazine & JvM

Hey DN, I'm currently working on a modern online shop for a shoe brand. The goal is to strip away every not 100% necessary information, while still providing every possible kpi driver still. I found that many competitor websites are totally dumping the breadcrumb today, or at least specially in the mobile version. Personally i think the users are well better educated nowadays and a breadcrumb isn't really necessary anymore, when your Design has better ways to indicate on which Page or what state of hierarchy you are on.

What are your thoughts on this?

17 comments

  • Ryan Hicks, 13 days ago

    Don't base it off your competitors. Do some user testing that will validate your answer in either direction. Bill your client for the user testing.

    E-Commerce Sites Need 2 Types of Breadcrumbs (68% Get it Wrong)

    While breadcrumbs may seem like a pretty uninteresting site element, during our recent Homepage & Category Usability study they proved themselves to be vital navigation paths. Perhaps more interesting is that the study revealed that e-commerce sites should offer 2 types of breadcrumbs: both hierarchy-based and history-based breadcrumbs.

    Yet, when benchmarking 50 major e-commerce sites we found that a staggering 68% suffer from sub-par breadcrumb implementations: 45% have only one type of breadcrumb (typically hierarchy-based, lacking the history-based), and 23% don’t have breadcrumbs at all.

    https://baymard.com/blog/ecommerce-breadcrumbs

    15 points
    • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, 13 days ago

      +1 for Baymard. Check out their free reports and consider buying the full thing if it makes sense.

      0 points
    • Fernando Lins, 10 days ago

      +1 for testing. It depends more on how you organize the items in a shop than what is being used currenty in other sites. If your taxonomy doesn't help people find things, then it's not an issue of breadcrumbs or not. If I'm category-browsing (say, I have no idea what to buy a nephew for xmas) then breadcrumbs would be my best friends (more than search).

      0 points
  • Nuro AzharNuro Azhar, 11 days ago

    But 2019 hasn't even started..

    5 points
  • Alf SalibAlf Salib, 12 days ago

    I think it depends a lot on the products the store offers. If it's particularly 'wide' (many categories) or 'deep' (many layers of subcategories) then breadcrumbs are a great way for a user to keep track of where they are in relation to the rest of the website, and I would consider them critical for a positive user experience. Yes, people are more educated nowadays, but they're not educated about your website. Every shop is slightly different, and breadcrumbs act as a map to new visitors. Just because I know how to drive, doesn't mean I know my way around a city I've never visited before.

    Like Ryan said, it's absolutely worth testing, but if you/your client doesn't want to spend time/money on testing this particular thing, I'd keep them in as long as they will change from product to product. Meaning if every product in the store is in one category called "shoes" then breadcrumbs aren't providing any value being there, because they say the same thing on every page. Home > Shoes > [Product name]

    3 points
    • Martin Petersen, 12 days ago

      Thank you Alf, that's exactly my point too. Will try to push for skipping it, or at least A-B testing, if the client would be up for it.

      0 points
  • Todd CantleyTodd Cantley, 13 days ago

    Yeah, they're not 'cool' but they're pretty helpful. We were experimenting with 'tabcrumbs' at work too. They work in a similar way but the child breadcrumb doesnt disappear and they look like tabs.

    2 points
  • James LaneJames Lane, 10 days ago

    Do they have breadcrumbs on their existing site if they have one? If so, you could just check analytics for click rate on them.

    1 point
  • Paul Gates, 11 days ago

    Breadcrumbs can be really useful if your users are digging down through your deep architecture one layer at a time and have some use for jumping back up the hierarchy 2 or more layers.

    They're not especially useful if your architecture is shallow. Also not useful if a typical flow has you jumping between categories or skipping deep into your architecture from hubs. Most ecommerce sites do these things. In this case, breadcrumbs are irrelevant to the user's flow and introduce potentially distracting information.

    I would recommend keeping your architecture as simple as possible, account for jumping between categories/hierarchy, naming your pages extremely clearly, and distinguishing elements of your hierarchy clearly. For example, pages with many products should look different from a page with one product.

    Don't A/B test this.

    1 point
  • Jan SemlerJan Semler, 14 days ago

    Of course if your application has a deep hierachcal structure. You can achieve another result by doing it with filter and sorting but therefore you will need a logic behind that so. Breadcrumps are sometimes a good choice and cleverly build quite useful.

    1 point
  • Kemie GuaidaKemie Guaida, 12 days ago

    Take into account breadcrumbs are not only informative, they're also navigation. They allow a user to quickly switch to parent categories/subcategories bypassing main navigation.

    1 point
    • Martin PetersenMartin Petersen, 12 days ago

      Thank you. The navigation is pretty simple though. Main Page > Category > Product and you can jump to any category from any page. Isn't that already enough reasoning to convince the client to drop it?

      0 points
      • Koos Looijesteijn, 11 days ago

        It’s quite common to not include home and the page itself in bread crumbs. After removing those you wouldn’t have much left of a bread crumb trail I guess :)

        0 points
      • Waldy Przybyslawski, 11 days ago

        No, it's not.

        I'm working with the same breadcrumb hierarchy as you. Take into account where your users are coming from, if landing on a Product page without knowing the Category could be confusing, if it makes sense for your funnel for them to be able to travel 'back' to a Category, and your breadcrumb positioning. For example, I'm toying with placing minimized crumbs near the footer (similarly to Apple), and placing a different callout near the top: essentially a "go back to the category" button. It's important to consider desktop vs mobile as well.

        And lastly any SEO implications of removing breadcrumbs.

        4 points
        • Koos Looijesteijn, 11 days ago

          Interesting, you’re saying you’re using breadcrumbs as a combination of history and taxonomy, right?

          My point was not that the category shouldn’t be shown btw, just that I’m not sure you’d call it breadcrumbs if there’s only one crumb.

          0 points
  • Levin ~, 8 days ago

    Yes.

    0 points