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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard rctneil's Avatar
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    Question Breadcrumb trail dilemma

    I'm working on my new personal site at the moment and have been adding search features over the last few days.

    I also have a custom built photo gallery. Say you were viewing an album. you might see a breadcrumb trail like:

    Home Gallery Holidays Japan Tokyo Disneyland
    That's all well and good and works fine. It allows people to click the crumbs in order to access previous pages.

    Now, I have added the ability for the search to search my albums and gallery. Say I do a search for "disney" and the results page shows up the album for "Tokyo Disneyland". I click that link and am taken to the same page (as expected).

    Going by what I have done on smaller areas of the site, the breadcrumb trail should now be:

    Home Search "disney" Tokyo Disneyland
    I really like that the breadcrumb shows the actual route that they arrived at the page and not just fall back to the standard trail shown above.

    The problem I have is that the normal trail is more informative and provides links and navigation to other areas of the gallery.

    I just wanted people's opinions here on which option I should go with or how I could use the "search" trail but provide gallery navigation links elsewhere in some form?

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rctneil View Post
    I just wanted people's opinions here on which option I should go with or how I could use the "search" trail but provide gallery navigation links elsewhere in some form?
    On general principles, if all the content pages do fall into a unique position in a hierarchical structure, that is what I would show on the breadcrumb trail.

    Why? Well ... technically, "breadcrumb trail" isn't really the best way to describe those links, although it's how they are commonly known. According to the stories, breadcrumb trails are to help you find your way back along the same route that you came in on. But we've already got a very easy way to do that on the web ... the 'Back' button. And at a rough estimate, 99.99999% of all web users understand how to use the 'Back' button to go back to the previous page. So duplicating that functionality is unnecessary (other than in specific cases such as multi-part forms), and counter-productive.

    Why is it counter-productive? Well, we've established that we don't need the breadcrumb trail to retrace the steps we took to get to a page, so what are they there for? Their main purpose is to help orientate yourself within the site and allow them to explore to related pages.

    If I come to a page with a trail that says
    Home › Gallery › Holidays › Japan › Tokyo Disneyland
    then, no matter what route I took to get there, I know that I can widen my search to the whole of Japan by clicking on the link for 'Japan'. If all I've got there is the option to go back to the search page, that doesn't help me navigate the site or work out where I am in it.

    Related to that, one thing that bugs me intensely is when I arrive at a page and there is a Javascript widget to take me 'Back' as the primary means of going up a level within the site navigation, assuming that everyone has arrived there from the parent page, and ignoring the large proportion of people who have arrived on a direct link from another page or a search engine. What will you give those people in the breadcrumb trail?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard rctneil's Avatar
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    Thanks for your comments. All makes sense. I think i'll take your advice. In regards to the javascript widget scenario you mentioned, If I did go the "search breadcrumb" route and the user came directly to the page from an external site it would fallback to the standard trail.

    I think i'll stick with normal trails but maybe add a line of text or a button somewhere on pages linked to from a search result allowing them to go back and continue browsing results.


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