Footer – the foundation of a building
The footers we are talking about here are those defined by Google as follows: Text printed in the bottom margin of each page in a word processing document. Although as you will find later, that other foundation definition is worth thinking about. Here in particular, we are talking about the online versions on which by coincidence the knowledgeable Ann Smarty has recently offered the following advice: handle your site footers wisely. In summary she concludes:
- make your website footer relevant and useful;
- don’t add too many elements to the footer – it should be clean and concise;
- focus on people (SEO value of the footer is too insignificant anyway);
- follow the common fashion: people want to see common elements at these common places.
As a general rule, that seems eminently sensible advice. However I noticed that two very successful bloggers, Darren Rowse and John Chow adopted a somewhat different approach. Go to either of their blogs and scroll down to the bottom of the webpage. What do you find? In both cases there is a full screen of footer information. That got me thinking.
So often our approach to online web pages is conditioned by our much longer association with the printed page. That is where the word footer comes from. It suggests minimal content. However consider the way in which many people arrive at a web page. Either they are going there for content since someone gave them a link or they did a keyword search and ended up at that page, again looking for content. Most of them are not interested in any information about the blog owner or the rest of the blog as they arrive.
Of course the blog owner may wish them to look at advertisements which help to monetize the blog and ensure its survival. If those advertisements are from Google, then Google is working very hard to provide advertisements that will be of interest to visitors to the web page. If so there is every incentive to ensure that both content and advertisements appear ‘above the fold’, in other words on the initial screen that is viewed.
If anyone wants more information on other items in the blog or the blog author, they are certainly motivated to wander around a little and find what they are looking for. This suggests such information can be ‘below the fold’ since visitors may naturally scroll down to find such information. In consequence this blog now has an extended footer giving even more information than those of Darren Rowse and John Chow. By clicking on the link to Full Blog Info, your screen will show the footer, which is about a screenful on a 1024 x 768 resolution monitor. I believe it is a very logical approach, even though it seems to go against standard practice.
It may not appeal to everyone since it is somewhat unusual. However I don’t believe it’s foolish and I am most interested in visitors’ reactions. Why not add your thoughts on how this different approach works for you.