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Breadcrumbs are a navigational aid that allow users to keep track of their location within programs, documents or websites. They align to the design heuristic of Sense of Place, where users should know where they are right now and how to get back to where they started from.

Generally, breadcrumbs consist of a delimited list of links starting with the homepage (or one link below the homepage, as it's generally accessible through the global masthead) and working its way down the site architecture to the existing page.

When to use

If the user cannot navigate directly back to the parent of the existing page using the global masthead, breadcrumbs should be applied. Or in short, anything more than 2 levels down in the navigation structure.

When not to use

  • Don't use breadcrumbs for navigation on a page that's already in the masthead navigation.
  • Don't use breadcrumbs on dialogs.

Additional Resources