Website footers are often overlooked when it comes to web design — after all, how important can it be way down there at the end of the page? However, like all elements of web design footers can make a difference to the overall impression of a site — adding to it if well-designed and taking away if poor. If you’re wondering what you need in a winning footer, use these tips to help guide your design.
Your design should always take users’ habits and expectations into account. Nobody goes to a footer for a long piece of content – rather it is considered a quick and easy source of specific information. Users often visit footers to find quick information they know most websites will make available – email addresses, contact phone numbers, driving directions and so on. Make it easy for your users and either have this information included directly in the footer or have an obvious link to a dedicated contact page.
Blogs can include a few popular tags, recent posts or other navigation tools as well. Some websites also use footers to display the entire framework and navigation menu of their site. If you make this choice, ensure that it’s easily navigable by use of bolding, headings and nested entries. Be sure that your navigation is not only in your footer if your page is long enough to make you scroll, however!
As mentioned above, there are a few things that are meant to go in a footer, and may be expected by users of your site.
- Contact information (email, and if you have a physical location, a phone number, address, and your hours)
- Links to your social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Navigational links (but they shouldn’t be the only ones!)
- Copyright information (be sure to update it to 2013! There’s also a WordPress plugin for that)
- Sitemap link, either for confused visitors or search engines
- Credits (such as for photos or templates you use), sponsors, or your other sites
- Privacy, terms, or disclaimer page links
Here are some things that some sites and blogs choose to add to their footer.
- Feeds (recent tweets, recent comments, or even jobs in your industry are good ideas)
- Search bar
- Return to top link
- Donate button
- Map with link to directions to your physical location
- Mini contact form
- Mailing list signup
- RSS feed button
- Small byline with link to about page
- Links to your most popular posts
- Tag clouds
That Doesn’t Go There
Don’t make the mistake of putting these in your footer!
- Really long blocks of text that almost fill the screen
- An outdated copyright, which can make your site look like it has not been updated since
- If you want your readers to sign up for a mailing list, don’t put the only sign up form in the footer! Same goes with other calls to action that might be important to you.
Your website footer can also be used to show off your creativity, brand message or aesthetic. If you’re looking for inspiration, both youthedesigner.com and webdesignledger.com have put together lists of their favorite footer designs. If you want more design theory, webdesignerdepot.com has a good post about the process of building a good footer.
Remember, a footer can be a useful way to enable easier navigation of your website. You might have already found the best company for SEO but they can only do so much if users can’t find what they are looking for when they visit your site. Make sure that an inspiring design serves the ultimate purpose of the footer.