Victus Spiritus


Bread Crumb Navigation

10 Dec 2009

Bread Crumbs, huh?

Bread crumb navigation is a user interface design feature that allows a user to quickly know where they are while exploring a site or application. Named after the Hansel and Gretel's trail of bread crumbs.

Navigation in a growing stream of web information, of sites, services, applications, and documents is a serious concern for developers. How do we best build interfaces that are clean, minimalist, information rich, and that always allow a user to know where they are in a virtual data structure. There are a couple of major design decisions that will impact future development.

1) Test the interface with as many users as you can get. Carefully monitor their usage habits and optimize UI updates to ease use by minimizing navigation time and maximizing engagement. The moment a user can't find something applicable to their needs they leave. Users leaving is fine if you've shown them someplace wonderful to go. If they leave out of boredom or frustration there's work to be done.

2) Implement the former but only as a default. Allow users to fully customize your site or applications view, after all each of us has different expectations and needs. Empower users to connect data and actions with an elegant interface or web programming language.
*Update WHOA! Looks like Wasabi is an implementation of this*

Give Users a Place to Share Designs

It's not enough to allow users to customize the heck out of your interface. You also need to point them to a spot where they can collaborate, share and iterate. Users like to show off their creations.

The boundary between developer, site host and browser is eroding under the pressure of information flow. Information is flowing like water. Instead of centuries to create the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon, expect your dynamic web creations to evolve over weeks or months. As designers of tools and content, we must endeavor to build islands for users to avoid drowning in information overload.

Distributed Creation Means Distributed Wealth Models

We can no longer rely on old monetization systems where one site host collects all revenue. If hundreds or millions come together to create value as they do on the web, new capital sharing models must emerge to fairly reward both concept originators and the people who's energy is being focused. Expect to see more shared revenue models like Squidoo or affiliate sales and ad systems like IMM.