An Evaluation of Look-ahead Breadcrumbs for the WWW


James Blustein
Ishtiaq Ahmed
Keith Instone

Author Addresses: 

Faculty of Computer Science
Dalhousie University
6050 University Ave.
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
B3H 4R2


Breadcrumbs have long been a part of hypertext naviga- tion systems. Although the early implementations were true to the breadcrumb metaphor of marking the specific path a user had taken [1], over time the Web convention of using a list of links to represent the location of the current node has become commonplace [5]. Popularized by large directories like Yahoo!, breadcrumbs can reinforce that users are indeed in the “right place”, educate them on the website’s struc- ture, and help them interpret the other links on the page which are contextual to the node’s location. If users feel disoriented [11, 12], they can select one of the breadcrumb links to go to “higher ground” and hopefully proceed with accomplishing their goal. Studies by Bowler et al. [3] and Teng [14] suggest that breadcrumbs are most useful for large and hierarchical sites. The study we report here investigated more powerful breadcrumb navigation constructs within the Open Directory Project. We hope to answer the question if these experimental breadcrumbs can improve performance in key navigation tasks.

Tech Report Number: 
Report Date: 
January 20, 2005
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