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The Forgotten Links: Good Footer Design

Have you forgotten your footers?  Chances are, you have.  Designers are apt to apply a certain “out of sight, out of mind” perspective to what’s found at the bottom of the page. Just why is it that footers get so little attention and more importantly, what can be done about it?

In this post, we’ll take a look at the forgotten footer, a design element whose importance sometimes gets left in the proverbial shadows, but first, just what is the point of a footer?

The Point of Footer

As a designer you’re often told what to design and where to put it so that visitor interest stays intact. There are few places on a site where you can let your clever sense of humor really shine. The footer is the place to be for all things clever and witty.  Take a look at the “Best Practices” links below.  You might see a few hidden links or so – design elements that get as much of a laugh as they do a good click.

So often we’re taught to keep personal perks out of design, to cater most to the customer or visitor, but the footer is a place where designers can be a bit foot loose.  Place distinctive details here, information that personalizes a site and makes it stand out from the rest.  For example, take a look below.  This footer has included recent discussion forum posts and a short blurb about the site’s purpose.

CSS Beauty


Best Practices for Great Footers

1. Keep Your Footer on the Ground

How many times have you seen the earth theme repeated in footer design?  This describes the design trend of equating the ground, earth, trees, lakes, ponds and other geologic phenomenon with the footer space.  Doing so makes sense to the user, and since the metaphor is not difficult to grasp, it makes an excellent visual connection as well.

Vimeo

2. Color Distinction

One good way to communicate to the user where content ends and the footer begins is with the use of distinctively different colors.  Take a look at a few examples, and notice how the colors influence the user experience.

Viget.com

 
3. Pleasant Illustration

Adding illustrations in the footer that are pleasing to the eye or that draw a chuckle or two is a nice way, to sum up, a page.  However, avoid gaudiness here.  It’s easy to bog footer down with over-sized images or too many graphics.  Limit illustrations to one or two that can entertain the audience without leaving them feeling overwhelmed.

Catydesign

4. Footer Form

Often footer’s contents contain short and concise summary messages and information that can be delivered with relatively few words.  This is why things like contact information, “about me” blurbs, links to resources and other important odds and ends of a site can be found there.  Even more, footer can have a specialized purpose as well. For example, some sites use them for quick email subscriptions or to link to RSS feeds.  Take a look at more special purpose footers below.

Media Ambassador

Conclusion:  Footer doesn’t have to be a forgotten place.  In fact, with these few tips and best practices you can make sure yours are sure to be remembered.

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