When designing a website, we shouldn’t overlook the website footer. Since it’s located at the bottom of the page, it’s easy to put off thinking about the footer until the end of the project. Rather than finding yourself scratching your head and throwing some filler in, I’m advocating being purposeful about your footer content during the design process.
Think about it when you are creating the navigation structure. Think about it for content that needs to be easily available on every page.
Many designers still follow traditional ideas about web design believing that all important information must be placed above the fold. With long-form pages and easy scrolling this is outdated information. Now, the critical job of the above-the-fold real estate is to show the target user that they’re in the right place and get them curious enough to want to find out more. If you nail that, your visitor will be motivated to scroll down the page!
A study by Chartbeat gathering data from millions of user sessions, showed that visitors actually spend more time below the fold, about 1200 px down the page, than above it.
When a visitor can’t find something they’re looking for on a page, user experience reasearch shows that they’ll scroll down to the footer looking for that search bar, the address. Or social media follow buttons. For all of these reasons, don’t disappoint them by having the footer be the afterthought in your site design.
Here are ten content ideas that will make your footer a helpful destination.
- Copyright: Even if you don’t have a full footer, your copyright information, symbol and year should be in the footer or sub-footer so that it’s visible on each and every page.
- Branding: If the smaller header area of the site doesn’t lend itself to use your full-sized logo, take the opportunity to reinforce your brand by adding the full logo to the top of the first column of your footer.
- NAP: Local businesses should have their name address and phone numbers (NAP) in the footer so that this information appears on every page. I like to see this in the last footer column on the right. Make sure you always use the exact name, address and phone number all over the web. That will help search engines see this as the same business for your local listings ranking. Below this information, you can provide a link to the Map or Directions.
- Search Bar: There are people who prefer to search rather than use a navigation menu, so if you haven’t found a place for the search bar, make it conspicuous by adding it to the top of a column in the footer.
- Navigation: In some website designs the header navigation menu is fixed to the top of the page, staying visible as one scrolls down. If that isn’t the case on your site, it’s important to add navigation links in the footer, usually in the first or second footer column. This menu should focus on providing a few important quick links, including one back to the Home page. Ecommerce sites should include links to the cart, account login, and other pages that shoppers will likely need to access that may not be in the top Nav.
- Mission or Values: In general, I’m not a fan of having mission statements on the home page. However, in some cases especially non-profits, it’s good to include it in the footer to remind visitors of your commitment.
- Awards and Review Icons: Add a Trust Box to one of the footer columns that contains all of your goodies like the Better Business Bureau icon, A security certificate, Your Trip Advisor widget that shows the number of reviews, the icon for Google Local Listings with the review count. This gives visitors a dose of social proof before they leave your site. Your clients can click the Google or Trip Advisor icons to go leave reviews.
- Social Media Icons: Many people are inclined to add their social media links to the header area. This is not a great idea since you want visitors to stay on your page rather than hop off your site over to your Twitter or Facebook feed – never to return. Instead, add your social media links to your footer. People who want to follow you will look there for your links.
- Calls-to-Action: The footer is a great place for one last call-to-action to Donate, Sign Up or whatever you want to invite your visitors to do.
Don’t add all of these things at once. Instead think of your visitors and what information they need that will help you to seal the deal.