Have you ever been unable to find what you're looking for in the main navigation of a website? Have you ever been considering a product on an ecommerce site but been unable to find the return policy? The frustration that this causes prompts some users to leave and find a site that is more transparent or intuitive.
This instance of user behavior is exactly why your site needs a well-designed website footer. Think of a footer as a safety net for users who haven’t been able to find the information they’re looking for in other sections of your site. By providing a link to your return policy or contact form, for example, you can prevent some visitors from leaving your ecommerce site and never returning.
In this post, we’ll explain what a page footer is and why it’s important to the user experience. Then we’ll go over what to put in a footer and conclude with some of the most creative examples to inspire you.
What is the footer of a website?
You might be thinking that there's no point in putting a lot of time and effort into the page footer because people don't pay attention to content below the fold. This type of thinking is validated by most scroll behavior research, including the last major study performed by Neilsen Norman Group in 2018. They found that 57% of page-viewing time was spent above the fold.
However, according to the study, time spent above the fold is decreasing over time as screens get larger, designers favor minimalism, and scrolling becomes normalized in general. The summary of this study states that "people will scroll if they have a reason to do it."
With that in mind, because footers serve navigational and informational purposes for your audience, it only makes sense to optimize this real estate for them despite it being so far down the page. You'll even notice that despite Neilsen Norman Group's discovery that time spent viewing decreased the farther down the page, there's an uptick at the very end.
This is an indication that users know that the page footer valuable information and they can go it, particularly when they are looking for something specific.
Now that we understand the importance of a website footer, let’s take a closer look at what information belongs in this section of a web page.
What to Put in a Website Footer
- Copyright Notice
- Contact Information
- Social Media Icons
- Email Sign-up Form
It’s important to understand that the only requirement for designing a great website footer is knowing what your visitors are looking for. That’s why there’s no precise recipe for a website footer. There’s some standard ingredients but what exactly you put in, the amount, the order — it’s up to you.
Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients you might use to design your website footer.
Arguably the most important element of a website footer is the copyright notice. According to Stephen Fishman, J.D., in a legal article on Nolo, a copyright notice is “a written notice stating that a particular work is protected by copyright, and that you own that copyright.” The purpose is simple: to deter anyone from copying an image, animation, paragraph or otherwise trying to steal content from your website.
All that’s needed is the copyright symbol © (or the words "Copyright" or "Copr.”), the year of the website’s publication or most recent substantial update, and the name of the copyright owner. The copyright notice only has to appear once on your website’s homepage, but it can appear on as many pages as you want. It can be placed anywhere on the homepage, but is most often found in the footer.
Here’s an example from HubSpot’s blog homepage.
You can add a sitemap to your page footer in two ways. You can either provide multiple links to sections of your website, or you can provide a single link to your XML sitemap.
The first approach is known as creating a “sitemap footer.” These footers contain navigation points that can’t neatly fit into the top-level or global navigation bars of larger sites, or navigation points that encourage visitors to browse the site. The sitemap footer on Grace Eleyae, for example, includes navigation links that visitors might not have considered when first entering the site but would like to explore.
The second approach to including a sitemap is designed with search engine bots in mind. One of the most important things a search engine bot will be looking for is a link to your XML Sitemap. Your sitemap is a file that contains URLs and information of the pages and media files you consider most important on your site. According to Google, search engines use this file to better crawl websites, particularly large and content-rich sites. That’s why providing a link to this file in your footer is considered a best practice for SEO.
Page footers are a great place to reinforce your brand identity. There’s a few approaches you can take. You can include your logo, but present it in a different way than in your header. Maybe you increase the font size. Maybe you include an image. Maybe you include a mission statement or your brand values below the logo. These are just a few ways you can remind visitors what your company stands for and make a memorable last impression.
Bequant, for example, adds its mission statement right below its logo in the footer. It reads: “Pioneering network optimization that improves speed, reduces latency and congestion – along with full visibility.” That way, a reader would have an idea of what the company did, even if they didn’t read the About page.
You want potential leads to be able to get in contact with you as easily as possible. For that reason, website footers will often contain contact details like a business email, phone number, or mailing address. Or it might simply include a link that brings you to a contact form.
The luxury boutique hotel Bellevue Syrene dedicates one part of its website footer grid to its contact information. To ensure potential guests can contact the hotel in the way they want, the footer includes an address, phone number, fax number, and email address.
Social Media Icons
Social media is another way that potential leads can get in touch with you. Including social profile links in your page footer is considered a best practice for this reason. It’s also an easy way to grow your following across your platforms. Understanding these benefits, it makes sense that 72% of websites include icons for their social media websites in the footer.
Here’s a look at a display of animated social media icons on Rewind App by Flatstudio.
Email Sign-up Form
Ideally, you want to present an email sign-up form to a visitor who understands the value of your content and wants more. A visitor who has scrolled to the bottom of your web page is a likely candidate. That’s why many websites use their footer as an opportunity to increase their subscribers.
For example, Chobani includes a simple email opt-in form in its footer. The tagline above — “Get the freshest Chobani news” — helps set the subscriber’s expectations on what exactly they’re signing up for.
Now that we know what possible content and elements we can put in a website footer, let’s look at some real examples that might inspire you.
Best Website Footer Examples
As discussed above, there’s no “right” way to create a website footer as long as it reflects your unique brand identity and is tailored toward your audience. Let’s check out a few examples that do exactly that.
1. Lorelei Londres
Lorelei Londres is a luxury hotel in Italy that strives to provide hospitality and charm. Its footer succeeds in both aspects.
Superfluid is a vegan beauty brand designed for anyone to use. Like Superfluid’s mission, its footer is basic but also redefines what basic means. Superfluid’s footer contains the information you expect — a well-organized menu of help articles, legal info, and social media accounts to follow, an email sign-up form, logo, and copyright info — but not in the way you might expect it.
The logo is enormous compared to the other text in the footer. Beneath the footer, you see icons representing its value propositions — cruelty free, vegan, easy to use, no mineral oils. Below that is a traditional copyright notice as well as the accepted payment methods. In short, this footer provides important information to address any questions that either potential or existing customers might have in a bold but clean way.
3. Spline Group
Spline Group is a mechanical and electrical engineering firm that values effective communication and simplicity.
This is clear in its footer. A minimalist design, the footer features black text on a white background. There’s an address and links to its Instagram, LinkedIn, and Careers page. Below that is much larger text. But unlike Superfluid, it’s not Spline’s logo or brand name. Instead, it’s a contact link with the simple but inviting CTA: “Let’s talk.”
Art4web is a creative digital and branding studio committed to making unique websites, mobile apps, and brand designs. Its own footer section is an example of unique design. Rather than offering one touchpoint to potential customers like Spline Group, Art4web offers three. Potential customers can email them, fill out a form to get a quote for their project, or give them a call. Or they can opt to connect on any of the social media platforms represented by the icons below.
gOOOders is an online platform and series of hotel boutiques that sell ethical and sustainable products. Its mission is to help people make better choices in the products they buy and the way they travel.
Pranjal Kaila, also known as Ajeeb, is an independent interdisciplinary designer. According to his bio, one of his specialties is “creating interactive spatial and sensory experiences.” This is clear in every part of his website, including his footer.
7. Hideout Space
Hideout Space is a unique place for small startups and teams to gather to work and explore the surrounding area of Garmisch-Partenkirchen through hiking, swimming, and other experiences. Its website is designed to immerse visitors so they feel ready to book a trip, especially by the time they scroll to the footer.
The page footer contains a simple CTA to "Book Now." Despite its simplicity, several design choices help draw the visitor's attention to this CTA. First, as the user scrolls to the footer, pieces of the Hideout Space logo slide in from the top and assemble right above the CTA button. The button is also centered and the same color as the cursor, which helps to draw the eye. Finally, it has a larger font size than the links, contact information, and social media links at the bottom, which helps to establish a visual hierarchy.
HUGE is a full-service digital agency that has worked with some of the world's most innovative companies to create ground-breaking brands and experiences.
This mission is reflected in its own website and footer design. As the user scrolls to the website footer, they're greeted with a "Hello" in bold typography. The background color also changes from black to green, which helps to recapture the visitor's attention. On the right side of the page, visitors can find helpful links and contact information for different inquiries. On the left, there is the logo and tag line of the agency "Make huge moves." This helps remind visitors what the agency stands for and makes a lasting impression.
With a mission to provide a clean caffeine beverage alternative to coffee, Tenzo sells matcha tea in an affordable, accessible way.
The homepage features multiple CTAs to try today with a money back guarantee to make prospects more confident in their purchase. Its footer offers another incentive: a 10% discount if they enter their email. For visitors who want to stay connected but not provide their email, they can follow Tenzo on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The footer also contains important links for visitors who are looking for different ways to purchase Tenzo's products or want to learn more about matcha or the company. Thanks to all these elements, the website footer effectively targets top and middle-of-the-funnel customers.
Envoy is a brand and digital innovation firm that aims to create transformative brands and digital experiences. Its website is a great example of a transformative digital experience.
Aisle is an ecommerce business that provides reusable alternatives to disposable pads and tampons. Top to bottom, its website is designed to inform and inspire customers to purchase its ethically-made sustainable products.
Aisle's footer is framed by its tagline, "Period proud," in large, bold font, which helps to draw the eye, as does the background color. The way the tagline is laid out with "period" in the left corner and "proud" in the right ensures that visitors see the many helpful links included in the footer. Finally, the email opt-in form stands out thanks to the orange background color and yellow shapes as well as the free shipping offer.
12. Will Ventures
Will Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that mostly works with consumer, health, and media startups.
Its black and white website helps present the user with clear options and prevent information overload. For example, if a user scrolls to the footer, they only have a few options: they can sign up for Will Ventures' newsletter, follow the firm on Twitter or LinkedIn, or check out the site credits. If these were the only elements in the footer, it might seem bland. But the text "WILL" is animated to move up and down the page to keep users engaged.
13. Tāmras Gin
Tāmras Gin is meant to invoke the lush paddy fields, backwaters, and rustic charm of the village of Colvale in Goa. Its website footer also aims to invoke these images.
It features hand-drawn animations of people drinking and relaxing beneath trees, which represents the botanicals and citrus fruit used in the gin. These animations also serve another purpose: to frame the logo, email opt-in form, and other standard elements of a footer like the Instagram social icon. This helps to reinforce Tāmras Gin's brand and encourage visitors to take action, either by opting in to the email list or following the brand on social.
Callista is a new development of luxury apartments in Rose Bay. Its website is designed to provide a virtual tour of these apartments.
Its footer, for example, contains images of the front and back of the apartments. It also features a navigation menu with the inviting question,"Where to?" So visitors can choose to click on certain navigation links to see the outside and interior of the development, its location, or a video tour. The footer also contains a "Back to top" button, which encourages visitors to keep browsing.
Lemkus is a leading retailer in sporting apparel and branded sneakers in South Africa. Its website design is designed to be as unique as its product designs.
Its footer on the homepage is a great example. Most of the page has a white background with black text color and yellow accent color, but its footer has the yellow as its background color. Its logo is huge, spanning the entire footer, which makes it more likely that visitors will remember the brand name even after they've left the site. The email opt-in form also stands out thanks to the bold, black font inviting visitors to join the community. The other text is understated but not easy to overlook thanks to hover animations.
Designing Your Website Footer
Designing your website footer requires careful planning. It’s a section where humans and search engine bots look for important information that they haven’t found elsewhere. You want to make sure you’re providing them with the content and elements they need so they continue to explore your site, rather than exit out in frustration.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.