Back button in navigation

20 December 2023

Sometimes it feels like integrating a back button into your breadcrumbs navigation is a good idea: Breadcrumbs with back button

Do not fall for it. It usually causes more problems than provides benefits.

It is unclear what exactly back button does

With back button it is not clear whether it goes back in history or just to parent entity.

The former does not make sense at all – it just duplicates browser's back button functionality.

The latter could be easily replaced with parent entity name: Breadcrumbs with parent entity name

This approach provides more context and clearer structure.

Context-dependent back button

Sometimes you need to allow user to get back to wherever he came from, when the structure is not linear and user can navigate to the page from numerous locations directly. Back button then serves as a portal back to the origin location.

This looks like only valid scenario for back button usage. But since we must have that context of the origin (or how do we navigate them back in other case?) somewhere in application's state, then again we can just show the origin rather than generic back button.