You want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to your website to find what they’re looking for.
But you’ve got a lot of different pages and categories—cramming them all into the main menu or trying to fit them all on the homepage risks making your website look cluttered. Clutter leads to confusion, and also just makes your website look ugly.
So how do you balance the need to put all that information on the page with the desire to keep the design focused and clear?
You use a footer.
The Beauty of the Website Footer
A website footer is the bottom section of a website that stays consistent across the entire site (or at least most of it). To give you an idea of how that looks in practice, the HostGator blog footer looks like this (feel free to scroll down and check for yourself).
Footers are valuable for a few main reasons:
1. Visitors know to look for them.
A key goal of good web design is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Footers are common, so people know that if they can’t find something higher up on the page, they usually only have to scroll down to the bottom to see a longer list of options.
2. Footers offer space to add important links, without losing your clean design.
If your site has a lot of pages and categories, including them all in your design isn’t practical. But adding a list of links in the footer is expected. And it’s easy to do in a way that looks clean and organized, rather than messy and cluttered.
3. They’re a smart internal link building tactic.
Internal linking is one important part of a good SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. A footer gives you a clever way to include links to all of your most important pages, with the anchor text of your choice, on every page of your website.
How to Design Your Website’s Footer
Adding a footer to your website should be an easy choice, but figuring out what you want it to look like can be more complicated. Here are a few website footer best practices to consider
1. Think about important pages you want customers to find.
The footer is an opportunity to highlight the pages you want visitors to have an easy time finding. When thinking about what to include, think through which pages on the site you consider the most important, and which you expect visitors to be the most interested in.
2. Consider what pages you want to increase the SEO value of.
There will be a lot of overlap between this and your most important pages. But since your website footer offers a valuable internal linking opportunity, also think about which pages you most want to rank high on Google. Adding those to a footer with the primary keyword you want them to rank for automatically creates a bunch of new internal links, so use the space you’ve got to give those pages a little extra SEO juice.
3. Include important legal information.
4. Make sure visitors know how to get in touch.
When people have a question or need, you want to make reaching the right person as easy for them as possible. The footer is a good place to include some kind of contact information—a phone number, email address, web form, or even a live chat box.
5. Make sure the visuals match the rest of the page.
If your website’s color scheme is mostly blue and white, having a bright red footer wouldn’t make a lot of sense. Make sure the visual design of your footer fits seamlessly with the rest of the website. Use a complementary color scheme and the same font.
6. Make the links clear.
However else you visually design it, make sure the links themselves are obvious. You don’t want them in a color that blends into the background, or you’ll lose a lot of the benefits of having a footer at all.
7. Keep it well organized.
You can pack a lot of information into the footer, but you still want it to look good and not like a jumble. If the links you list fit into a few categories, organize them accordingly. If the footer will have different parts—say, a section of links and another with social icons and an email sign up—make sure they’re all organized in a way that looks good and is intuitive for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
10 Possible Items to Include in Your Website Footer
In addition to your most important links and legal information, the footer can be a place to include a variety of useful items.
1. Your Physical Address and Contact Information
If your business includes a storefront, you want to make sure every visitor knows where to find you. Including your physical address, phone number, or email in the footer ensures it shows up on every page of your site. Cherrywood Coffeehouse even includes a map in the footer, making it that much easier for visitors to head over.
2. Social accounts
You want visitors to follow you on social media, but it’s probably not a top goal on your list. For most businesses, it’s going to rank below making a purchase or getting in touch. That makes the footer a good place to include your social media links. They won’t distract from more important information, but they’re still easy for interested visitors to find.
3. Logo and/or tagline
The footer can be one more opportunity to provide your main branding information. Fangoria includes both their logo and tagline in the footer, alongside important links and an email signup form.
4. Email signup
Any business with an email list wants to drive email signups. Adding a sign-up form to the footer makes sure every visitor knows where and how to subscribe if they want to.
5. Secondary menu or sitemap
The footer can function as a second menu, but one where you have space to include more pages and categories. The HostGator footer is a good example of using the footer this way. It offers a simplified sitemap of all our key pages.
6. Social proof
Social proof is a powerful way to convince visitors your brand is trustworthy. Adding some testimonials, star reviews, or awards and certifications to the footer can provide a little extra proof that you’re reliable. Chewy has both their Google Reviews star rating and their pharmacy accreditation in the footer.
7. Links to your important content
The footer can also serve to help you promote your content. You can add a blog feed to drive traffic to your most recent posts, or add links to some of your top resources. Pet Supplies Plus has a Resources section in their footer that includes content like their New Puppy Checklist.
8. Press info
Press coverage is a valuable way for your business to spread the word about what you do. But many businesses make it hard for press to find what they need to feature your brand. Make it easy by putting press information (or a link to it) right in your footer.
9. Your mission or values
Over 70% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand if its values are aligned with theirs. So put your values where your customers can find them. Buffer has an entire section in their footer devoted to transparency, where they include links to information on the salaries they offer and their diversity data, so customers can hold them accountable for the values they claim.
10. All the boring legal stuff
Make the Most of Your Website Footer
The footer is a small part of the page that can do a lot of work for you if you let it. Think carefully about what you want to include, and put those last couple inches of your webpage to work.