We have recently been asked by a number of new customers to remove the footer links from the initial web design. Reasonings have included, “It’s ugly.” “Nobody will use it.” “It has no value.”
Removing the navigation at the bottom is not recommended for several reasons.
The bottom of the page is not the end of the site.
A compelling footer can lead users to delve deeper into the site. Instead of leaving them to decide where to go when they’re done with a page (scroll back up, leave the site, go elsewhere or just close the tab) give them some clues to where they might like to go next.
Footer links can help search engine rankings.
While links in body copy count for more than links all by themselves, such as in a navigation bar, sidebar, or footer, they do have value because your links tell the search engines which pages are most important.
Footer links are especially important on long pages.
While the main navigation is easy to access on pages that are short, longer pages may require the user to scroll down so far that the main navigation is hidden. Instead of forcing the user to scroll all the way back to the top, footers provide immediate access to the main links.
Footer links help mobile users.
Mobile users search differently. Because they typically have to scroll up and down more often than the typical desktop user, they find footer links especially useful.
Considering the needs of mobile users becomes more important every day as more and more people use their phone to search the web. In a July 2012 mobile marketing study by The Pew Research Center, 90% of American adults had cell phones. Of those, half were using smart phones, and two-thirds of new mobile phone purchases were for smart phones. So what does this mean? Because broadband coverage is still often very patchy, while mobile coverage is almost ubiquitous, smart phones are becoming a substitute for laptops. If your potential customers are likely to be traveling or if they’ll likely access your site on the go, your footer links will be even more important.