What are breadcrumbs? When we hear the term, we might think about the trails we used to make for the pigeons when we were younger. This wouldn’t be a far-off guess, because the origin of the term actually does come from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale in which the two children drop breadcrumbs to form a trail back to their home.
But fairy tales aside, the technical definition of breadcrumbs is a type of secondary navigation scheme that reveals the user’s location in a website or Web application. They’re convenient because they allow users to keep track of their locations within programs or documents.
So if you go on most pages on a website—such as ours—you should see the breakdown as follows:
Home page > Section page > Subsection page
In Magento, the way to notify the server where you want the breadcrumbs to be is through the Page IDs Path.
Notice how in our screenshot example, you can probably guess where the home page, the section page, and the subsection page is just by seeing the numbers breakdown. (And if not, here’s a hint: they’re all placed linearly.)
When Should I Use Breadcrumbs?
You should use breadcrumb navigation for large websites and websites that have hierarchically arranged pages. E-commerce websites are a great example, because oftentimes they’ll feature a large variety of products is grouped into logical categories.
Don’t use breadcrumbs for single-level websites that have no logical hierarchy or grouping. A great way to determine if a website would benefit from breadcrumb navigation is to construct a site map or a diagram representing the website’s navigation architecture, and then analyze whether breadcrumbs would improve the user’s ability to navigate within and between categories.
Breadcrumb navigation should be regarded as an extra feature and shouldn’t replace effective primary navigation menus. It’s a convenience feature; a secondary navigation scheme that allows users to establish where they are; and an alternative way to navigate around your website.