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Website Footer Design – What You Should and Shouldn’t Include

Website footers aren’t like a big ole’ safety net; that keeps your site visitors from having a cold, harsh, awkward ending when they hit the bottom of your web page. Instead, they provide a cushy landing that reinforces your brand and provides all the pertinent information they may need. The website footer is specifically designed to help your site’s visitors that are seeking out specific information. It is placed at the bottom of every page, consistently, throughout your website.

Website footer best practices often get neglected or overlooked in the website design process. However, they are still a key element of your website. The idea that the concept of “visitors don’t scroll,” is just plain worn out. Visitors scroll a lot more than they think you do, and they do see your footer and pay attention to it. It’s time to make the most of your footer. Some brands saw their conversion rate increase by 50% after optimizing their footer to align with specific goals.

What Is a Website Footer?

A website footer used to be a “catch-all” bucket that could house all the links you know your website has to have, but that isn’t exciting enough to include in the header without cluttering it up. Links to things like a copyright notice, disclaimer, terms of use, employee login, and XML sitemap were all he footer was really about. Flash forward to today. The footer has become a major place where designers can get creative. Social media widgets, live feed of recent blogs, mini photo galleries, and unique content such as “Our Story” are all options to make your site’s footer more engaging, while still containing the necessary links and information. Yes, it isn’t as important as the almighty header, but the footer gets seen by site visitors more than you may think.

Why Is a Footer Important

It’s commonly perceived that a website’s footer isn’t nearly as important as the header of the website. This thinking is a result of the concept that everything of true importance must lie above the fold. The “fold” is terminology leftover from the newspaper era when editors placed the most important, eye-grabbing news stories on the top half of the front page. In the digital era, this means the top portion of the landing page, aka what the visitor sees before they have to do any scrolling. This notion is becoming antiquated, as modern users – especially mobile traffic – scroll a lot more than you may think. A study of 1 million site visitors found that 66% of visitors’ “engaged time” happened below the fold.

Are Footers and The Links in Footers Used?

You may be an above-the-fold-focused brand, and that’s fine.  However, a study of the scroll depth of 25 million website visits to various websites showed that visitors scrolled down farther than most people thought they would, thousands of pixels worth of scrolling. This shows that no matter how far the footer is due to the page length, it is still highly pertinent and it will be seen by your site visitors.

Footers really do matter and they can help garner many benefits for your website. They can emphasize specific content, provide go-to quick information visitors are looking for like your address and serve as a guide for your visitors. Footers can also extend the reach of your marketing by including social media icons, social media widgets, and a live feed of your latest blog posts.

21 Things You Can Include in Your Footer

While there is an unlimited number of things you can include in your footer and ways to get creative, a big no-no is adding too much to the footer. This makes it just look crowded, overwhelming your visitor and making all links/content seem less important due to the volume of them. Below are the 21 top elements to include in your site’s footer that are most important.

1. Rebranding. The footer is the ideal place to rebrand by including the logo. Many businesses choose to include a slightly modified version of their logo. For example, they may include a simpler version of the logo such as an all-white version if the footer background is dark enough, which design best practices say it should be. You also may want to include a mini statement that rebrands your company. (who you are what you do/offer, etc.) Keep it short and sweet.

2. Copyright. Include the year and copyright symbol as bottom-line protection against plagiarism or website duplication.

3. Privacy Policy. The second most standard piece of footer content, the privacy policy typically links to a non-featured page that explains information about information collection and use. This generally is referring to the website’s tracking functionality that can then be used in marketing, remarketing, and reviewing analytics.

4. Terms of Use. Commonly confused with the privacy policy, the “terms of use” is something totally different. It typically links to another “hidden” page that states what the visitor agrees to when they visit the website. Some businesses have crucial legal verbiage that it may be wise to add directly into the footer to ensure maximum exposure.

5. XML Sitemap. Although it will likely rarely, if ever, be clicked on, including a link to your XML sitemap is great for your SEO. Search engine bots love to see a link to an XML sitemap, directing them to crawl this sitemap as they index your website. Don’t miss out on this easy way to give your site some SEO benefits.

6. Recent Blog Posts. The footer is a great place to put an auto-updated widget with links to your recent blog posts, extending the reach and lifespan of your latest blog posts.

7. Social Media Icons. Many site designers hold off on putting the social icons in the header for fear of losing visitors to social networks and them not coming back. Best practice has become placing the social icons in the footer.

8. Live Social Widgets. Many designers encourage social media engagement and extended messaging in the footer by embedding a social media widget, showing a live stream of the latest posts form one of your brand’s social media channels. Most site designers choose to place this right next to the live social media widget.

Note: Don’t include a social widget unless your brand is active on the social media channel you wish to feature. Also, remember that this widget will likely show up on all the pages, so don’t include it unless you trust the person or team that runs your social media.

9. Testimonials. The footer is an ideal place to add a quick testimonial that really stands out as the words of a highly satisfied customer.
Note:You may be tempted to include a link that will take visitors to a page of testimonials. This practice is antiquated, as webmasters and businesses found out that these pages just weren’t getting any traction or traffic.

10. Press. This link can serve dual purposes. First, it should include a scrollable page that highlights all the great press and coverage your business has received, including your own press releases. It is also a navigation point for members of the press and media. There should an additional link on the page the press link opens that will provide information just for them.

11. Awards, Honors and Recognition. If your business has been honored with important recognitions or earned important awards, especially industry awards, you may want to collect the logos signifying those accomplishments and include them in your footer. Ensure they are aligned and equal in size before publishing.

12. Navigation. This is a great way to help lost visitors circle up the wagons as to where they want to go on your website. If they have made it to the footer, they have either completed reading the content they were looking for, or they are possibly lost. The navigation link should open the same menu dropdown that is included in the header navigation section (think of the typical three lines on a mobile view that launches the navigation tabs).

13. Contact Us. This isn’t your business phone or email. It has become design best practice for the Contact Us or simply “Contact” button or text in the footer to link to a specific contact page with a contact form. Marketers know that embedding a submission form on a separate page, rather than simply an email link that auto-opens an email. There are many benefits of using a submission form, including:

  • Email links written in plain-text are magnets for being added to spam lists
  • Form submission is easy to set as a goal in your analytics or content management system
  • Form submission can (and should) trigger an auto-response email being sent, allowing you to open the door immediately to connect with your new lead and the email should include a call-to-action (CTA) that would move your new lead further down the marketing funnel.
  • Forms send visitors to a thank-you page once they hit “submit,” giving you another opportunity for further messaging, CTAs, and messaging that will ideally engage visitors further
  • Forms save submissions whereas emails commonly don’t go through, get blocked by spam filters, etc.

14. NAP: The Essentials
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. No matter what else you include or leave out of your footer, you absolutely must include NAP if you want to rank well in search engines. Including your company’s NAP signals to search engines that your business is legitimate. It also sends up a flag to search engines to show your page when people are looking for geo-targeted searches in their local area.

  • Name. It may seem redundant, but you should include your business’s name in the footer for SEO purposes.
  • Address. People expect to see a physical business address, also known as mailing address, in the footer. This is especially important for local businesses. This should be correctly programmed so that when it is clicked it will launch the map app on mobile devices.
  • Phone. Including a phone number is another important signal to search engines that your business is legitimate. Just like the address, clicking the phone number should automatically launch the phone app on mobile in a click-to-call fashion.

15. Email Signup. While email signups typically occur most frequently on the specific web page where the visitor found or was seeking information, it’s best practice to cover your bases and includes an additional email signup link in the footer.

16. Images/Mini Photo Gallery. As pretty much everything in the digital space is trending more image-centric, adding an image or, better yet, a mini photo gallery really draws the visitor’s eye and encourages further engagement. As a bonus, you can choose great photos that showcase the personality of your brand or highlights some of your products and services being used in real scenarios.

17. Mini Mission Statement or Core Values. Some companies, especially service-based companies, choose to include their mission statement in the footer, usually a condensed version containing the most important information.
Pro Tip: This is a great place to include your most important keywords or key phrases for search engine bots. However, don’t overdo it. Search engines can tell if you’re stuffing keywords into your footer text.

18. Login. This may not be needed for all businesses, but many visitors to your site may need to log in to access account information or other gated pages. There may also be logins requires for employees or partners. The footer is a great place to put a login, especially if it is for a group outside your target audiences, such as your internal team members or affiliates.

19. Finally, and most importantly, include one final, engaging call to action. Make sure it is a button and not a plain-text link. You might be surprised at how many clicks a CTA button in the footer gets.

4 Things You Should Never to Include in Your Footer

When designing your footer, there are four things you may be tempted to add that you should ultimately stay away from:

  • Widgets that show site traffic statistics like a ticking page view counter
  • Pop up boxes (the exception to this is the chat widget)
  • Icons of your affiliates with links
  • Advertisements

Conclusion: Make Your Footer Work For You

Footers, while often neglected and underutilized, are still incredibly relevant pieces of your website design that will get seen by visitors – probably a whole lot more visitors than you may think. So, take your time when creating your footer, or take the time to asses and redesign your footer to have specific goals (remember the 50% conversion rate spike that was initially mentioned?) to see real traction and ROI from your footer.