Are Website Footers Necessary? Yes! Here's What to Include in Your Footer.
Are website footers necessary? Well, is toilet paper necessary? Okay...maybe not for everyone (don’t tell me...I don’t want to know). For a website, footers are absolutely necessary!
However, website footers which are located at the bottom of web pages help deliver positive online experiences, they’re often neglected and underutilized. The common perception of the website footer is that it’s not as important as the header or body of the content. This relates to the former thought that the most important information must lie above the fold, or before you start scrolling.
As technology and our ever-increasing digital age booms, we’re discovering something very different. A study by Chartbeat found that visitors spend more time than you’d expect scrolling down the average website, with many viewing content that about 1200 pixels down, or about 2 screens down if the screen is 700px tall. In other words, they’re going past the fold.
Additionally, some brands have observed up to a 50% increase in conversions when they optimized their website footer design with specific goals in mind!
Smart Insights observed a 16% increase in revenue per customer when they tested a more easily navigable footer.
I think you’re getting the point that a well thought out website footer is absolutely important to website design.
Here are four of the biggest reasons to spend time on a website footer design.
Website Technical & Legal Information: The footer is a visible and out-of-the-way space to share the legal information that many websites are required to display.
Website Navigation: When a user arrives at the footer of a website, it signals the end of that page. Some web designers add a copy of the menu in the footer to help users at the bottom of the site to navigate to a different page. Some also add calls to action like forms that try to convert website visitors to newsletter subscribers. A great website footer design keeps people engaged and moving through your website.
Security & Credibility: The website footer is a great place to showcase awards, security certificates, and badges to demonstrate to visitors that your website is trustworthy.
SEO: Although some people argue that footers have no real use in SEO, including important keywords here and on the header can still be useful.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR WEBSITE FOOTER DESIGN
There are 3 major things to consider when it comes to your website footer design:
Content: dependent on your company and goals
Structure: content organization directly contributes to usability and engagement
Aesthetics: how your website footer looks in relation to the website as a whole
With these things in mind, here are some of the most common items to include your website footer design.
If there’s something a footer needs to have, it’s your copyright information. This is an easy way to help protect your website from plagiarism. If you’re worried about the annoyance of changing the copyright year to the current year, there’s no need to do it manually all the time - read my blog post on how to automatically update your copyright year every year.
A sitemap is a list of pages on your website that can help search engines index pages or URLs they may not have otherwise discovered. Usually, the footer holds the HTML version of the sitemap.
What is collected
How it’s stored
How it might be used
Current web design standards suggest that contact information in the bottom right or center of the footer. Ideally, you’ll directly embed a contact form for people to get in touch. You could also have a link to your contact form.
It’s not recommended to have an email link because:
Email links are spam magnets and you don’t want all that junk mail, do you?
A form submission is easy to track as a goal completion in Google Analytics
Forms can integrate with third-party software, like a CRM
Forms allow you to send certain questions to certain people
Company Contact Details
Besides providing a way to get in touch via email, a website footer also usually contains company contact details that include:
The address or directions to the business
A map, or link to a map
A telephone number
The address and/or map, as well as the contact number, help significantly with local SEO. Additionally, a link to a map is helpful when designing for mobile devices. Regarding mobile design, make sure your contact number is clickable so that visitors can simply tap to call.
Site Navigation Links
Including navigation links in your footer can help customers who scrolled to the bottom of your website, but have not yet found what they’re looking for. A “Fat Footer” refers to a website trend of footers filled with content, sometimes even involving into a mega dropdown menu that includes all the links/content you would find on the website. As the trend is moving towards cleaner, concise websites this may be something you don’t want to do. To figure out what works best for your company, it can help to A/B test different versions of navigation links in your website footer design.
Social Icons or Widgets
If your company is particularly active on social media platforms, I recommend adding social media icon links to your footer. You can also add them to your header but the trend seems to be shying away from this for the same reason as the navigation link cramming I mentioned above. A cool trend is to add an Instagram feed or Twitter feed to your website.
Not all website visitors are customers. Some websites have a small login link for their employees, affiliates, partners, or resellers, and the footer is the best place to put it.
Newsletter or Email Signup
The header or a popup box isn’t the only place to try and get email signups. There are several other places to put a newsletter signup form. In general, the more places you remind people about your email newsletter, the more likely you are to capture every possible subscriber - just don’t be obnoxious about it.
Less than 1% of your visitors represent press organizations, so don’t waste time trying to appeal to them on your main navigation menu. Most people that need press information know to automatically look to the bottom of the website for relevant information.
Site Search Tool
Like most web designers, I prefer to put the site search tool in the website header. However, some websites still opt to include it at the bottom of the page. Because most people wouldn’t necessarily think to find a site search tool in the footer, make sure that it’s clearly labeled.
Awards, Certifications, and Association Memberships
Your website footer design is a great way to showcase how trustworthy your site is. Adding awards, certificates, and association memberships to the footer will ensure people who are interested in your site will see it due to the fact that they’ll have to scroll to consume this content, without it being too intrusive to other important website content.
Call to Action
Every marketing page should have some sort of call to action (CTA). You should never leave your website visitors wondering what to do next on your website. You should have these strategically placed throughout your website. One place you could put one is in your footer. You could create a compelling story you feel your visitors will want to follow and use directional clues to point people towards the bottom of the page, to your footer.
I wanted to mention this here because I don’t recommend adding many SEO keywords to your website footer. So why would I include this in this list? Because footer text used to be the place where businesses keyword stuffed their website. As a result of the keyword “abuse” by a multitude of websites through black hat SEO tactics over the years, Google doesn’t put too much weight on keywords found in footers anymore.
What to Avoid in Your Website Footer Design
While there are a variety of elements you can put in your website footer design, please don’t use every single one of them. Just because the footer is a major focal point for website visitors doesn’t mean you should use it like a filing cabinet and stuff everything in there.
Get rid of any unnecessary links by focusing only on the most relevant/important links. Don’t be afraid of white space, which is the empty space around text that offers the eye a visual breather.
Also, don’t try to be sneaky and hide crucial information in the footer because you think people may not pay attention to it. That’s just bad form. A footer is a reflection of information that can be found elsewhere on your website, and the inclusion of important information is no different.
As a reminder, don’t even think of trying to over-optimize for SEO is your website footer design. Google is aware of the black hat SEO practices and will penalize sites that are acting spammy.
A Footer is Still Important
Just because the footer is at the bottom of a website doesn’t mean it’s useless. Your website footer is a great place to display important information that would otherwise clutter up the rest of your website and a place to repeat important information. Optimizing your website footer design can lead to increases in conversions and revenue. Don’t neglect it!
Have you been naughty and neglected your footer? I promise I won’t tell. What’s important in your businesses’ website footer? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!