We've been playing around with a different way of presenting navigational bread crumbs.
Many websites use breadcrumbs to show users their current location in the site hierarchy. Breadcrumbs keep users from getting lost and allow fast navigation back "up" the tree. User testing shows breadcrumbs work: Jakob Nielsen has recommended breadcrumbs since 1999.
Our firm manages paid search for leading retailers using our own proprietary technology platform. Our account management teams use an intranet as the interface to that platform. They use our intranets heavily, and so our goal is make these apps fast and friendly. We're experimenting with a different kind of intranet nav element we're calling "HistoryCrumbs".
HistoryCrumbs are a line of links atop the page giving the last 8 pages visited. Yes, more or less the same information you can get through the browser's "History" function, but presented on the page in a horizontal list. We use a short abbreviation for the link text and prepend a click counter. Here's an example. Eight clicks after logging in, the HistoryCrumbs on an intranet page might look something like this:
And after nine clicks, perhaps something like this:
Where traditional bread crumbs only allow you jump "back" up the tree, HistoryCrumbs let the user quickly navigate recent pages in any order. (Aside: the incrementing click counter looks ugly and wonkish to me. Perhaps it works for an internal app, but I'd suspect the counter is too tweaky for external users on a retail site.)
Here's a mockup of what HistoryCrumbs might look like, photoshopped onto an Amazon page. (Disclaimers: this is a mockup for illustration, not a real AMZN page, and all marks and images belong their respective owners.)
In the corresponding Amazon session, I came in to Amazon home page, searched on "Harry Potter", clicked on Book7, found it still isn't out yet, went back to the homepage, and clicked on "Alan's Amazon Store" to check out my recommendations. If now, for example, I wanted to jump back to the Potter search results, I could click the third link in the horizontal list. Fast and easy.
I'd be interested to hear if readers have seen HistoryCrumb-like nav on retail sites. And if you're doing something similar on your site, how's it working?