Each and every website you design for your clients should have a strategy in mind. I touched on it a bit in this blog post, but what you place front-and-center on a website should depend entirely on the goals your client has for their website and business. What may come as a surprise is that this strategy should include the website’s footer.
I’ve found that the footer is one of the most underutilized sections on a website. Many seem to think that it’s wasted space, but you might be surprised at how often people make it all the way down to the footer of a website. Those that do are generally looking for something like social media links or more ways to interact with the website or business owner.
Personally, if I’m looking for a newsletter opt-in or social media links, the first thing I do is scroll down to the footer if there isn’t a sidebar for me to look in first. But often I find a dead-end, rather than what I’m looking for.
In today’s post, we’re going to go over how we can make use of this high-value space. The more dead-ends we can remove from a website the better so we’ll go over 3 steps you can take to design a strategic footer, some great options for what to include, and how to go about adding items to footers in WordPress and Squarespace.
How To Design A Strategic Footer
Step 1: Consider your client’s goals
Considering the goals of your client will be the first thing you want to do in any stage of designing a strategic website – the footer included. The key to this portion is asking the right questions at the beginning of the project so you have the information you need to make the right choices.
I went over some details in this Facebook Live replay, but on your intake questionnaire it’s helpful to include questions like, “What’s the one thing you want someone to do while they’re on your website?”
Some answers you might receive for that question include:
- Opt-in to my email list
- Follow me on social media
- Read multiple blog posts
- View my About page
- Land on my products page
From there you can create a list of things that would support those goals. For our above example:
- Email opt-in incentive – An opt-in is a great choice because if someone makes it to the end of a blog post, odds are that they enjoyed what they read and would love to learn more.
- Social media links – Social media links are a nice and simple way to encourage new readers to click over and follow on other platforms. You can include icons, links with the platform name spelled out, or even a larger widget area give a preview of whichever platform(s) you’d like to highlight the most.
- Popular posts – Popular posts are a simple way to give readers the next step after they’ve finished up a blog post they enjoyed. They’re much more likely to continue reading if there’s a next step right there in front of them.
- Menu with About page as the first item – Adding a menu to the footer is helpful so readers don’t have to scroll all the way to the top to click over to a new page. You can also focus this menu based on what you really want people to check out after they’ve already been on the site for a few minutes.
- Popular products – If your client is product-based, adding an extra spot for readers to run into their most popular products is a great way to encourage them to click over to the Shop page.
After this step, you’ll have a list of items to pick and choose from to create a footer that will support their goals.
Step 2: Consider the design aesthetic
Next, you’ll want to consider the overall feel you’re going for. If the website’s style is going to have a more minimalist feel, it wouldn’t make sense to put more than one or two items in the footer. Maybe in that case, you’d include some simple social media links and a menu like Kaitlyn from The Crown Fox.
On the other hand, if the look ends up being more modern, it may be better to include a 3-column look or larger area like I have on my website.
Step 3: Fill it in
After you know exactly what goals need to be supported and how you can fit those things into the overall style, you can identify the final items and add them in. A good rule of thumb is to include no less than 1 item and no more than 3-4.
If you’re not sure how to add items to the footer on the platform you use, it isn’t too bad. On Squarespace, there’s a footer editor available where you can insert text, social links, newsletter signups, and more. You can read more about how to do that here.
If you’re using a Genesis theme on WordPress, there’s one simple line that will need to be added to your child theme’s functions.php file to add the widget areas and from there you’ll just need to style the footer using CSS.
To add a three-column footer you can include:
add_theme_support( 'genesis-footer-widgets', 3);
For a more in-depth example, including some CSS to get you started, check out this tutorial.
And last, if you’re on WordPress, but not using the Genesis Framework, there are a few steps you’ll need to take including:
- Registering the widget areas – usually in functions.php or a special file used for registering widget areas
- Adding those widget areas to the PHP file where you’d like them to display – footer.php in our case
- Styling those widget areas with CSS
For an example to get you started, check out this tutorial.
For your next client project, be sure to keep a strategy in mind once you get down to the footer design. It will be a little extra work, but the strategy boost be worth a slightly increased price tag for your clients and the extra happy clients will lead to more referrals, meaning it’ll be worth your extra time too!
Grab the free worksheet to lead you through these steps on your next client project.