Hello? Can you hear me all the way down there at the bottom?
Website footers don’t get as much attention as they should. Most of your users hang out toward the top of your school’s website’s pages — in fact, one study suggests that more than half of page-viewing happens “above the fold,” also known as the area the user sees before scrolling down. How lonely it must be at the bottom!
A school’s footer typically houses a logo, social media icons, popular links, or maybe a sitemap; the footer anchors an ocean of content to a seafloor, usually signifying to a user that they’ve reached the end.
So what’s the point of thinking twice about an area of your site that no one seems to think about at all? Well… the website footer is a critical area that plays an important role in your user’s journey, and it's up to you to not let the user experience fall flat — your school’s website footer is another opportunity to showcase your school’s brand identity. It’s the final touch, the piece de resistance, and maybe your last chance to engage your audience.
Let’s get to the bottom of footers and talk about what should be included, why they’re important, and how they can creatively and strategically support your school’s brand.
What should you include in your school’s footer?
There’s really no wrong information to include in your footer, but you need to be strategic about the types of links you place in your footer and the content you include. Over time, visitors have come to expect certain types of links and information commonly found within footers. That can include:
- Copyright information
- School logo
- Contact information, like an address and phone number
- Social media Icons
- Calls to action
- Your school’s tagline
- Navigation to return to the top
If your main navigation is overly complicated, or visitors can’t intuitively navigate your site, many users — especially mobile users — may scroll straight to the bottom in hopes of finding your contact information, career page, or mailing address. That’s when you want to consider quick links or shortcuts to popular pages.
Creating footers to boost user engagement
Heatmaps and screen/scroll recordings through services like HotJar and CrazyEgg can provide some additional insight into how users navigate your pages. Often, user engagement (represented by red and yellow “hotter” areas) is concentrated toward the top; it then dissipates and picks up again toward the bottom, creating something like an hourglass shape. That continues to support the idea that users will engage with the content above the fold, start scrolling, and then sink straight to the bottom.
It might be the end of a page, but not necessarily your website, which makes footers valuable real estate for calls-to-action that engage your users. Make sure it’s easy for visitors to take the next steps you want them to, whether it is to sign up for a campus tour, follow your district on social media, or navigate to another page on your website.
Take a look at St. Paul’s Clearwater’s Independent School — a pair of sailboats slowly make their way across the footer. Like a hypnotic screensaver, your eyes can’t resist watching the ships as they pass under colorful CTAs. It’s a nice addition to the site’s subtle nautical “beach” vibe. Considering its 12-acre campus hugs the shore of Allen's Creek, it makes perfect sense. Can’t you just hear the ocean?
Matching footers across your site helps create consistency between pages and saves time when building out your site’s content. Finalsite’s content management system, Composer, makes it easy with its Banners element. With just a few clicks, Banners can be easily applied to any page on your site and can be used as headers or footers when added to the top and bottom of a page’s design.
Does a footer’s content affect search engine optimization?
As long as they help improve your website user experience, the footer links will signal to Google that your page is useful, accurate, and trusted, and that’s where it can help boost your SEO efforts. Of course, you’ll always want to follow SEO best practices, so think of your footer as a last resort to locate specific pages on your website and support your site’s presence in search results.
Be careful of including external links in your footer — links away from your site will work against your search engine optimization efforts. Google devalues external footer links, and including too many that point to an external domain may even earn a penalty from Google.
Examples of creative footers on school websites
Aside from helping users find what they need, footers are the perfect opportunity to weave in your school’s brand, add a little humor, and offer a splash of creativity. Think of it as a little treat for users who make it all the way to the bottom — as they near the end of your page, reward users with a little something “extra” and re-engage them.
Let’s check out a few examples of footers that tie everything together.
St. John’s Prep | Danvers, MA
Look closely, and you’ll see the iconic steeple of St. John’s Prep take form in the school’s footer, splitting the content between logistical contact information, CTAs, and popular site links. The graphic, borrowed from the school’s logo, creates a pleasant negative space and anchors the pages nicely with its spire pointing upward toward a search bar.
The American School of The Hague | Netherlands
Animated bicycles zoom past twirling windmills and across the tulip fields toward the bottom of The American School of The Hague’s footer. It’s a perfect, branded nod to their Dutch culture and a delightful way to catch the eyes of unsuspecting users.
Canadian Academy | Kobe, Japan
The footer features a custom illustration of a gondola ascending into the mountains of the City of Kobe as clouds move through the sky. Very cool!
Bolles School | Jacksonville, FL
Sink to the bottom of Bolles’ footer and you’ll learn what the moving water is all about — a fitting tribute to the school’s alma mater: “As the river flows before us, we move forward to succeed.”
Walworth Barbour American International School | Israel
With one campus in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and a sister campus located in a Jerusalem neighborhood, the footer includes animated elements of the two cities, bringing them to life and engaging site visitors in a lighthearted and engaging way.
Woodward Academy | Georgia
Woodward Academy takes a whole new approach with its footer and bleeds to what seems like the last third of the page into the bottom section. The design is effective, though — three calls-to-action merge into a rising cityscape, driving home that Woodward is in the heart of Atlanta. Users are greeted with “inquire,” “visit,” and “apply” and then presented with two columns divided by more standard footer content like popular site links, social media icons, and contact information. The tagline “Discover the Woodward Way” is a nice touch to help wrap things up.
Stillwater Area Public School | Minnesota
Scroll to the bottom of Stillwater Area Public School’s pages, and you’ll discover subtle (yet effective) CTAs catering to both new users looking for quick links and parents searching for familiar resources. Office hours, phone numbers, and an address complete an area for contact information, while CTAs for enrolling students and other links offer more information for staff and prospective employees. Behind the footer’s panels is a subtle watermark of the school mascot, a nice tie-in with the school’s branding.
Well, “We started from the bottom, now we’re here!” Website footers are prime real estate on your school’s website to serve users better, entice a conversion, and keep users engaged. Don’t be afraid to offer a creative take on the mundane or logistical information visitors expect and give users the delightfully unexpected.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.