Breadcrumbs are frequently ignored, but they add plenty of value, both from the point of view of SEO and as regards usability. For those who are not familiar with the concept, breadcrumbs are a series of links in a website, which show the category tree followed to reach a product. For example, if you’re looking at a women’s jacket, the structure followed will likely look like this:
Home > Women > Jackets and coats > Jackets
These navigation elements are usually aimed at navigating in a hierarchical way, making it easy for users to return to the parent category or to a previous one, while enabling search engines to understand the information structure in your website.
Use of Breadcrumbs in Zara
Funnily enough, Zara hardly makes use of Breadcrumbs, to a large extent because of the visible presence of the category tree on the left hand side of the screen, which replaces more traditional breadcrumbs However, there is a temporary breadcrumb in the “Back” option that appears next to the first picture in the product information page.
However, use of breadcrumbs is not restricted to this. Another frequent use of breadcrumbs is based on time. This kind of breadcrumbs basically enable users to return to the previous page, but with no need to use the browser’s “back” button .
Why we need temporary breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs make navigation easier and are located in an easily recognizable and accessible position for users browsing through your online store, so it’s very easy to use them.
MotoBuykers, like Zara, has a very visible side menu. However, they have chosen to adequately display a hierarchical breadcrumb on top of the product information page. And they complement navigability with a “Back” button that serves as a temporary breadcrumb, which is located to the right of the product name.
In an online store users generally browse by categories (or search results) and access product information pages from those lists. If the results are not good enough, users return to the category listing and continue to browse. Here is where breadcrumbs can be useful, and breadcrumbs aimed at returning to the previous page (regardless of the category) are frequently missed in stores that haven’t implemented it.
It is true that hierarchical breadcrumbs allow us to go back, but you should bear in mind that “going back” often leads to losing some filters which users might have applied in a category page. If you implement temporary breadcrumbs and allow users to take one step back, in a similar way to the “Back” button in browsers, you are facilitating users’ navigation by not forcing them to configure that kind of filter over and over.
By combining both kinds of breadcrumbs, you allow your users to browse however they like, not forcing them to follow a hierarchical logic (which they will often not even understand) or a merely temporal logic. You should offer different options that adapt to the different ways in which users browse.