For some, the footer of a website is an afterthought. However, in many cases, a footer can be a useful and important tool to use for site navigation and to distribute information to your viewers. Footers should not be too information heavy, and it is advisable to keep their design simple and not overflowing with graphics.
The information that you do put in your footer can give users an opportunity to discover important information on your site and can be a great navigation tool and part of a really important first impression.
Key Footer Information
About Us Link
Have a link to your About Us section, which should include basic information about you or your company. This allows users an additional opportunity to ascertain the nature of your site. It is important to try and put a face to a company.
Contact Us Link
One of the biggest issues that I find when we review sites is sites that have no way to contact their owner or webmaster. It could be as simple as you wanting to let them know that they have a typo, or as beneficial as wanting to request a quote for their services. It is important to have multiple and thorough ways of being contacted. Also, if you are using a captcha on a contact form, test it yourself to see whether or not it is comprehensive or frustrating.
Terms of Service
If you are providing a service or a product, this is your chance to link to all of the good legal jargon. This is a great self-protective measure and is very important to have. Placement of this in the footer is a very standard location and users would anticipate it being there.
If you are handling sensitive information, or capturing peoples email addresses or passwords, it is good to state how you plan on keeping that information safe and what information you may be logging when users visit your site. Again, this is a self preservation measure and it is good to have all of your ducks in a row, as well as assuring your users that they can trust you.
Linking to your site map allows users a place where they know they can locate how to navigate the rest of your site. This way, if anyone gets lost they can find their way right there in the footer. As many people who are getting lost will scroll all the way down a page, this is the perfect location for that link.
Address and Phone Number
If you have a physical business, offer phone support, or have a reason for people to mail you things, putting that information in the footer is an anticipated and appropriate location. Be sure to give people the correct information that they need.
Quick Tips for Footer Design
Keep your footer clean, concise and readable. Avoid flashy graphics and fonts. Make sure that you can read the font over the background color and be clear what is and what is not a link. Keep with standard conventions when choosing how to make your links appear to your users. Many footers are centered. Having a footer align right or left can sometimes make the bottom of a site appear lop sided. Be sure that the information discussed above really is at the very bottom of your site. The only thing lower than it would be a copyright notice.