Custom Breadcrumbs and the importance of proper ID

Our site suffers heavily from an incomplete and in some places non-existent ID (Information Design) process – the process of figuring out what needs to be on the site, where, why, and how it will be organized. And then we wind with problems like this. We have a set of pages with this word in their path, so this whole section is:




/thisword is also a page. But it’s a blank page, with no information, only created to be part of the menu structure. And it’s accessible to users, because the breadcrumbs go:

Home> Thepagebefore > Thisword > Current

So you can click on it and get to this empty page. Our current breadcrumb implementation is a custom one (not built by our current team) and is not extensible enough to allow for items in the breadcrumbs that do not exist as a page in the path (as it pulls by path and not from the menu.) Luckily, there is a module, Custom Breadcrumbs, that will allow us to do just that. It is set up to follow the menu in all instances, but you can override individual paths and set your own breadcrumbs – for instance, adding a non-linking “thisword” in the breadcrumbs. It’s not fully implemented yet because I have to reconcile the module’s attempts at styling with our own styles, and they are set up differently, but the functionality is there.

However, the lesson here is that if you complete an exhaustive ID process, you will not wind up with empty pages that only serve as an item in the path to identify the section of information that follows it. In fact, this entire section came after the fact and had to get thrown on  – more ID work may have avoided this problem entirely.

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