Blog footers have traditionally been neglected by designers, usually home only to the obligatory copyright line. Times are-a-changin’ though. Creative footers have become one of the hottest trends in web design, and blog footers are no exception.
It’s not hard to see why. A visitor who reaches the bottom of a web page and finds themselves without anymore content left to browse is at the point where they are most likely to wander away. Blog footers help capture and maintain the interest of the visitor who thinks they’ve seen everything. But they have to be done well. Here are three key things to remember when designing a blog footer.
1 Attention decreases from top to bottom
When a user visits a website, the first thing they see is the top area: the header, the top of the sidebar, and usually some of the content. This is the highest attention area of any design. As the user travels down the page, they need to be kept interested. The likelihood of boredom or distraction increases as the user travels downwards through the design.
They might see a blog post they want to read, or a link they want to follow. They might just decide that the blog isn’t for them. Because of this, most visitors to a blog will never make it to your footer. This means that if there is something you want every visitor to see–whether it’s your navigational menu or the icon for your RSS feed –it should go in the highest attention area of your site: the top area.
2. Your footer is not a navigation bar
Following on from section 1, you should not put ‘must use’ elements of the design in its footer unless they also appear in a high attention area. For example, if your ‘Contact’ page is only accessible through your footer–one of the most common usability errors you’ll see in modern web design–you’re drastically increasing the chances that someone who wants to contact you will lose patience trying to do so. They may never think to look in that area and simply won’t see the link. This can lead to missed opportunities and frustration for blog readers.
Putting a ‘Contact’ page link in your footer is fine, however, when you’ve linked it again in a high attention area. Having navigation at both the top and bottom of your blog will improve its usability, since putting links at the bottom of your page makes sense–once a reader has reached the bottom, they’ll probably want to explore another part of your blog.
3. Keep it interesting!
Blog footers are a great opportunity to surprise and delight those who find them. For years the website footer almost had to be boring. At most, you could expect to find copyright information and a contact link. The nether regions of a blog were to be avoided.
Now, designers are beginning to appreciate the opportunity to go against expectations. I’ve seen blog footers featuring funny quotes, interesting links, portfolio items, illustrations and top posts. These are the best kind of blog footers because they keep users entertained at a key point when they would be most likely to navigate away from a site. Don’t use a blog’s footer as a place for basic features like navigation. Instead, do something interesting and novel that will keep visitors interested!
As a designer, the best way to develop your skill with blog footers is to bury yourself in examples that work. Here are a few great places to start!