Why is website footer important?


Having recently read a blog titled “Blogging Pitfalls: What You Need in Your Site’s Footer” by Jonathan Bailey, I wish to share with you the useful information.

Underutilized part of a site

A blog or website is comprised of a header, body and footer. Most of the emphasis is on the header design. The footer is, perhaps, the most neglected and underused in web design.


Pitfall: the “fine print”


The bottom of a page is usually associated with the “fine print”, that is, the legalese and other important data, which most readers do not bother to read.

However, just like the fine print in a contract, there are important legal implications for both the person using the fine print and the person subjected to it, regardless of whether the fine print has been read.

Therefore, having such important information in the site’s footer protects the website owner or blogger. Besides, the footer can be the first place that some readers expect to have the key information displayed.

In short, the site’s footer somewhat acts as a legal shield. For those who ignore their site’s footer, they are putting themselves at risk unnecessarily. Such risks may range from a violation of copyright by failing to attribute some of their sources to a possible investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. consumer protection agency.


Common contents in site’s footer


Now that we are aware of this pitfall, we just need to fix the footer issues. The time and energy taken will be well spent as it helps to head off problems before they arise.

As each website has a different set of needs, there is no standard format available. Nevertheless, the following is some common contents for the footer:

· Privacy Policy

A privacy policy states how your site treats the information collected from visitors and how is their privacy protected.

· Copyright Information

This sets out the copyright position of your website content, such as whether the site’s materials can be downloaded or distributed by visitors.

· Disclaimer

This states the limitations of your liability for the use of the site and the information therein.

· Disclosure Policy

Since 1 December 2009, FTC requires bloggers to disclose any free products or payments received when they write online product reviews.

Although FTC’s focus is on advertisers and not endorsers, it will still be good to avoid possible FTC investigations by telling readers the kickbacks or any inside connections to a product or a business you review.

· Attribution

When using someone else’s work (such as photos), even with his or her permission, an attribution is usually required. Having it in the footer keeps the attribution out of the way but, at the same time, available on every page, making it easy for anyone looking for it.

· Contact Information

Your site might have a contact page elsewhere, but it will be useful to have this information in the footer as well.


Sample templates


Sample templates for above are available from Business Link, U.K. Government’s online resource for businesses.

Users are allowed to download the templates, use and modify the sample wordings without copyright infringement.

There are also sample templates for terms & conditions, acceptable email use policy, etc.

Decide what your site needs as not all elements are applicable to your site.


Usefulness of footer


In addition to above, a site’s footer has a series of critical functions for a site. Please refer to “A Website Footer is for more than your copyright notices” for ideas of what to include in the footer.

In summary, the footer is an important part of a site and needs to be crafted carefully to maximize its usefulness, as well as to avoid any unnecessary troubles.



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