Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design

10Dec0

Design Guidelines: Breadcrumbs

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Hansel and Gretel using breadcrumbs to find their way home.

Hansel and Gretel using breadcrumbs to find their way home.

Nobody wants to get eaten by a wicked witch and neither do Hansel and Gretel in the tale Hänsel und Gretel by the Brothers Grimm. That's why the kids, as they are taken into the forest, leave little breadcrumbs behind so they can find their way home. I love the story (especially when the witch climbs into the oven to be baked) and the fact that Hansel and Gretel find their way home and see that the evil stepmother has died and everybody can live happily ever after.

Even though the metaphor of Hansel and Gretel is probably the origin of the term Breadcrumbs it is flawed because breadcrumbs do not represent the actual path the user has taken to any given page, but instead the optimal path from the homepage to the current page in the hierarchy.

Fairytale aside, here is how Breadcrumbs should be designed and implemented:

Design Guidelines for Breadcrumbs

  1. Display breadcrumbs horizontally
  2. Progress from the highest level to the lowest, one step at a time
  3. Start with the homepage and end with the current page
  4. Apply a simple text link for each level (except the current page)
  5. Separator between levels is simple and one-character (usually “>”)
  6. Levels show the site hierarchy – not the user’s history

Code Sample / Template

End result:
Example Breadcrumbs

<div class="breadcrumbs">
<a href="#">Home</a>
<span>></spanv
<a href="#">Topic</a>
<span>></span>
<a href="#">Sub Topic</a>
<span>></span>
<strong>Node</strong>
</div>


div.breadcrumbs {
background: url(bg-breadcrumb.png);
overflow: hidden;
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
height: 2.8em;
line-height: 2.8em;
color: #666;
}
div.breadcrumbs a, div.breadcrumbs strong, div.breadcrumbs span {
float: left;
overflow: hidden;
height: 2.8em;
padding: 0 1em;
font-style: normal;
}
div.breadcrumbs span {
background: url(bg-breadcrumb-arrow.png) no-repeat left center;
overflow: hidden;
padding: 0 0 0 1em;
width: 0px;
filter: alpha(opacity=40);
opacity: 0.4;
}

download bg-breadcrumb.png | download bg-breadcrumb-arrow.png

References

15Oct0

Design Guidelines: Links

Posted by Michael Gaigg

"If links were married they'd get divorced all the time! That's because they can't keep their promise." (Gerry McGovern)

What Gerry means is that what links say they will do and what they actually do are total opposites. How many times have I believed, clicked and followed a link that promised me to 'Download this or that' just to find another page describing this piece of software. There I had to muddle through even more links just to find another 'Download version' link that yet again takes me to another page acknowledging the terms and conditions. The story could go on and on.

Remember: Good links are like magnets - they drive users to them.

With that in mind, here are the

Design Guidelines for Links

  1. Color and underline link text (exceptions include lists of links like a navigation menu)
  2. Reserve underlining for links (do not underline text that is not a link)
  3. Use different colors for visited and unvisited links (e.g. shades of blue)
  4. Avoid using color for text unless it is a link and never use blue for non-text links (even if your links are not blue)
  5. Avoid changing the font style on mouse over
  6. Avoid tiny text for links
  7. Use appropriate spacing between links or use a clear separator
  8. Use links primarily for navigation between pages
  9. Link text must be describe the target as short and precise (clear call to action) as possible AND hold this promise!

Best Practices

See my blog entry for Best Practices for accessible Content

References:

 

Suggested reading: