Doing a quick search for web design inspirations and ideas, a common theme quickly becomes apparent. Every screenshot focuses on website headers. Naturally, I started to look for something to set all these designs apart.
I scroll from top to bottom, looking for something that's not flashy but still catches my eye. There are a few surprises to be found on these websites. Fancy slideshow transitions. Infinite scrolling on a homepage. A responsive web design. All of these are impressive, but there's an even simpler element that catches my eye and tells me a lot about an insurance agency website. It's the last thing I look at, and I'm always hopeful that it will leave a lasting impression: the footer.
It's easy for the footer to be an afterthought, a trash can or synonymous with 'the fine print.' So here are a few easy tips to keep in mind next time you're reviewing or creating your own website. These tips will also help ensure the footer is not where the user experience actually ends. In successful cases, an optimized footer can encourage people to visit other pages on your site, thereby improving probability of a conversion.
Start with what's important, and use alignment, scale and placement. Feel free to include valuable content and engage users with your social media presence. The footer is also like an organized navigation area for websites, so start by grouping links into identifiable categories. Footer links typically have the lowest click-through rates, so make sure you're only putting links your visitors actually care about. Which leads to the next tip...
Don't create an SEO dumpster
It still happens. People stuff keywords into the footer thinking it will be ignored by users and picked up by search engines. This is an easy trap to fall into, but even easier for search engines to penalize websites for the bad practice.
Build trust and show personality
The problem with most stock footers is that they are generic. The usual suspects are links to the homepage, about page, contact information, and some legal jargon for good measure. Instead, try making your phone number prominent or having an alternate contact email address. Show your hours of operation, have a live chat option or even display testimonials from satisfied clients. Don't leave any room for visitors to guess when you're available or whether you can help them.
Get a conversion before they leave
So many websites are throwing forms, popup windows or talking spokespeople in visitors' faces these days trying anything and everything to get contact information out of visitors. It's all about conversions, so accept that and ask for a conversion one last time. Try including a short call to action or a simple form in the footer.
The footer is probably the most neglected design element on a website. Headers are honed to perfection, and the footer leaves many opportunities untapped. There will never be a perfect footer, but you should always be able to point out areas that could use improving. So remember to make your footer functional yet engaging. It should offer an effective way to navigate the site, interesting content to engage visitors, and be an area able to provide help and leave a lasting impression overall.
A few examples:
Don't be afraid to get bold with the hierarchy.
Go for the conversion one last time.
Showcase customer testimonials, and be personable.