Components of a Great Website Footer

A review of the various elements that make up a useful and usable website footer. Is your footer pulling its weight?

Footer design has come a long way in the last few years, as can be seen in the many footer design showcases on various web design-related blogs. Creativity and aesthetics aside, what are the elements that make up a great footer design?

Site Map

Many web site footers contain some level of site map. Often this is a duplication or expansion of the main navigation in order to aid the visitor as they move around the site.

Example of sitemap-style website footer
Adaptd sitemap-style website footer
Shirtfight sitemap-style website footer
Shirtfight sitemap-style website footer

With more options for where visitors may want to go, e-commerce sites can have a much more detailed site map.

Apple sitemap-style website footer
Apple sitemap-style website footer

Site Map Link

It’s probably a good idea for a site of any significant size to have a site map. And if you do have a site map, your users will expect to find a link to it in the footer.

Apple sitemap footer link
Apple sitemap footer link

Legal Links and Copyright Information

Despite the expanded use of the footer, it’s still regarded as the place to go for copyright information and legal-related links such as your privacy policy and terms of use.

Example of legal links in Sundance Film Festival website footer
Legal links in Sundance Film Festival footer
vSplash website footer with legal links
vSplash website footer with legal links

Contact Information

It makes sense for commercial websites to have their contact information easily available. Where better than in the footer?

Contact information in Alma Latina website footer
Contact information in Alma Latina website footer
Contact information in Carsonified website footer
Contact information in Carsonified website footer
Contact information in Sarah Longnecker website footer
Contact information in Sarah Longnecker website footer

In addition, for businesses with a physical location, a link to a map and driving directions can be a great help for visitors.

Contact Form

Some sites have taken it a step further than simply providing contact information by including a contact form in the footer as well.

Website footer with contact form
Brad Candullo website footer with contact form
Griff in a Box website footer with contact form
Griff in a Box website footer with contact form

If space is tight, a call-to-action button makes a good alternative to encourage prospective customers to get in touch.

Viget Labs website footer with Contact Us button
Viget Labs website footer with Contact Us button
FortySeven Media website footer with Contact Us button
FortySeven Media website footer with Contact Us button

Newsletter Signup Form

Many online stores provide a convenient email signup form in the footer. Signing up for (yet) another email is often an impulse action for customers, so it’s sensible to make this as easy as possible.

Campaign Monitor website footer with newsletter signup form
Campaign Monitor website footer with newsletter signup form
Threadless website footer with newsletter signup form
Threadless website footer with newsletter signup form

Search Form

If a site design does not allow for a search form in the header or if search is an action of secondary importance, the footer provides a viable alternative location. It’s unlikely, however, that visitors will know to look for search in the footer without discovering it first through browsing.

Jason Santa Maria website footer with search box
Jason Santa Maria website footer with search box
nDesign Studio website footer with search box
nDesign Studio website footer with search box

Social Media Buttons

The footer makes a great place to place your social media links in an easily accessible place on every page.

Social media icons in Mytheon game website footer
Social media icons in Mytheon game website footer
Cellar Thief website footer with social media icons
Cellar Thief website footer with social media icons

Recent News / Twitter Feed

By breaking a footer up into columns, it’s easy to include lists of recent news, blog posts, tweets, etc. These can give visitors a quick insight into what is going on with your organization and encourage them to venture further into your site.

Web Designer Wall website footer with list of recent posts
Web Designer Wall website footer with list of recent posts
Twitter feed in Snupped website footer
Twitter feed in Snupped website footer

Region / Language Selector

It’s common to place country/language selectors in a ‘utility’ navigation in the header. However, if a site design does not support such a layout then the footer is a good alternative location.

Region / language selector in Blizzard website footer
Region / language selector in Blizzard website footer
Country / region selector in Apple website footer
Country / region selector in Apple website footer

Methods of Payment Accepted

It’s a good idea for online stores to let customers know upfront what methods of payment are accepted. Putting this information in the footer makes it readily available to visitors.

Ten Little Monkeys website footer showing payment methods accepted
Ten Little Monkeys website footer showing payment methods accepted

The footer is a good location for other e-commerce related information, such as security badges, guarantees and offers, as well as customer support information.

Green Label website footer showing customer guarantees
Green Label website footer showing customer guarantees

Archives / Categories / Tag Cloud

The footer makes a good place for blogs to list post archives or categories. Tag clouds seem to be less popular these days, but can fit within the navigational context of the footer well.

Example of blog post categories in website footer
Example of blog post categories in website footer
Example of blog post tags in website footer
Example of blog post tags in website footer

Company / Personal Overview

Since almost any page on a website can be the first one that a visitor encounters, a quick summary of the company or person can help orient new visitors. This overview can also help to add a little personality to pages that would otherwise be dry and factual.

About Us summary in Paramore-Redd website footer.
About Us summary in Paramore-Redd website footer.
About Me summary in Miles Dowsett website footer.
About Me summary in Miles Dowsett website footer.

Featured Content or Work

Footers make a great location to showcase your best content or work so that you can do your best to ensure that visitors don’t miss it, even when they reach the bottom of the page.

Featured work sample in Cameron Moll website footer
Featured work sample in Cameron Moll website footer
Featured work sample in Creative State website footer
Featured work sample in Creative State website footer

Awards and Accolades

Similar to displaying featured work, listing awards and accolades in the footer allows you to show off your success and expertise without being too upfront.

Customer testimonial example in PollDaddy website footer
Customer testimonial example in PollDaddy website footer
List of awards in Billings Pro website footer
List of awards in Billings Pro website footer

Links to Site Network

If your site is one of a number in a network, it makes sense to link out to your partner sites. The footer is an ideal place for these links.

Examples from other sites in GigaOM network
Examples from other sites in GigaOM network
Links to other network sites in Tennessee Tourism website footer
Links to other network sites in Tennessee Tourism website footer

A Personal Touch

While the footer can contain features that aid usability and drive visitor interaction, it can also be a great place to add a touch of personality and have a little fun. After all, we’re all people.

Personal touch in Smashing Magazine website footer
Personal touch in Smashing Magazine website footer
Personal photos in Kari Jobe website footer
Personal photos in Kari Jobe website footer