Exploring User Mental Models of breadcrumbs in Web Navigation

A solid usability study on the how the type of breadcrumbs can show users the breadth and depth of web sites.

Last Updated: June 28th, 2006 • Design •

Angela Colter from the University of Baltimore did a study on exploring user mental models of breadcrumbs in web navigation and posted the results on her site.

She also defined three types of breadcrumbs:

  • Location breadcrumbs indicate the position of the current page within a site’s hierarchy regardless of the path taken to arrive there.
  • Path breadcrumbs show the path the user has taken within a site to get to the current page. The same content from the site can be presented with different breadcrumbs because users can take different routes.
  • Attribute breadcrumbs convey product meta-information, such as subject, price, category, style, and brand.

These are the concepts that most developers don't even think about when developing web sites. A user at any time can lose track of where they're going or where they've been.

Good post, Angela. Thanks.

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Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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