Design for Good: The Hidden Potential of Footers

Raheel Gauba - 04.15.2009

In my research for this particular post, I noticed that most organizations, including some fairly large ones, are not taking advantage of the hidden potential of footers. The approach is a fairly standard, boring and expected one with the format of (c) Date, Organization Name, All Rights Reserved.

Lets shed some light towards why the footer needs to be considered as part of your overall design strategy.

 

Every single pixel has a purpose when it comes to web design (a separate post about this coming soon)  - Whether the pixel is colored or not, negative space or not, it must be fully utilized and have a purpose. Why not look at the footer in the same light?

When working on redesigns for our clients, there are some common themes of resistance towards enhancing footers. The most popular one is "Why? This type of footer distracts the audience from the main content."  At first, this sounds like a very valid concern - Why take emphasis away from the main content of the website?

The reality is that the footer is the last element on the page - If your audience has scrolled down and reached the footer, this usually means that:

  1. they have not found what they were looking for in the main content, or
  2. they are simply in 'browse' mode and are scanning the page top to bottom just to get a feel for the type of content you are offering, or
  3. they are looking for specific quick links or contact information about the organization


The real question is, if your audience has already scrolled past everything, and they are now towards the bottom of the page, why not take advantage of the opportunity and present quick and useful information and/or elements that re-enforce your organizational goals and keep them engaged? The success of a website solely depends on securing the interests and satisfaction of the audience, and going the extra mile will only do good!

Today's audience demand more information in less time that is easy to consume - Helping the audience in yet another way to get to compelling content and interactivity on your website aims to fulfill that demand.

Another advantage towards using a "functional footer" that may be hidden from plain sight is that it enhances search engine visibility depending on what type of information you publish.

From a design point of view, especially for those organizations who are very brand conscious (as should all), a functional footer opens up a world of possibilities to do something a little different and unexpected and provides an easy way to re-enforce the organizations brand in creative ways!

Here are some possible elements that could be used when designing a functional footer:

  • Partner logos
  • Key calls to action
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Search
  • Complete sitemap
  • Short blurb describing the organization's purpose
  • Promotional links to podcasts, blogs, etc.
  • Use of social networking/bookmarking icons
  • 'thought of the day', 'Psalm of the day', 'Comment of the day'
  • What we're doing, How you can help (Quick links)
  • Recently updated content
  • Staff or constituent profile teasers
  • Do you have more ideas? Leave a comment and participate!


Here are some examples of creative footers on various non-profit websites:


BarackObama.com


BarackObama.com

 

Bethlehem Baptist Church

Bethlehem Baptist Church


 

The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis


Cavalry Bible Church


Cavalry Bible Church


Church of the Valley - Corvallis


Church of the Valley Corvallis

 


City of Grace - Mesa


City of Grace - Mesa

 


Elim International Church


Elim International Church


United Nations Association of the USA


United Nations Association of the USA

 


Generation Church


Generation Church


Lance Armstrong Foundation


Lance Armstrong Foundation

 


Memorial Baptist Church - Gettysburg


Memorial Baptist Church - Gettysburg

 


MoMA


MoMA

 


Oxfam International


Oxfam

 


Pacific Legal Foundation


Oxfam

 


Save the Children


Save the Children


St. Pius X High School


St. Pius X High School

 


The White House


The White House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have more examples of great functional footers? Share them with us!

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