The “Death of the Footer” – A Case of Infinite Scrolling

I’m always fond of relaying in to the most popular discussions happening regarding UX topics and this one really sparked my interest. Thanks to Yaniv Bahat, UI, UX & Conversion Specialist, who presented this topic as one of the most engaging discussions I’ve seen yet on LinkedIn. The discussion began with the following question from Yaniv:

Should we declare the “Death of the footer”?

This discussion sparked the interest of many due to the infinite scrolling trend. Several UX professionals provided useful answers to the question that interests many.

While people find footers to remain alive and up on websites, the large consensus believes that websites with infinite scrolling should not, in any way whatsoever, have a footer per say. Jacob (Jake) Hercules believes that adding a footer to an infinite scrolling page just teases the user. It makes it impossible for the user to reach useful links. Quite frankly, from experience, I cannot tell you how many times I have come across a website that provides a footer with useful links and implements infinite scrolling. My decision to continue on that website – non-existent – I left!

If you are considering on adding a footer to provide useful links, think about the type of page navigation you want to provide. I would hate to see footers die. Never pair infinite scrolling with footers. Steve Robinson believes that infinite scrolling paired with footers creates a poor user experience if the user can’t get to the footer. It can also create a challenge with SEO.

Adam Faja provides Mailchimp as an example to show how they are using an alternative to the footer. They include a “more” link in the header, which provides deep navigation, much like what would be presented in the footer. Another method to using an alternative to the footer is to provide an element at the bottom of the page, much like what Pinterest does when they let the user choose to “scroll to top”. This would toggle a footer and the endless scrolling page would scroll behind it, according to Dave Land.

Joel Marsh believes that footers will never die. Quite a strong statement, but I agree with him. Infinite scrolling, or designs that do not have a footer, are not a universal solution, says Marsh, although it is mainstream. Infinite scrolling sites aim to keep users on a site as long as possible. This can be useful if the user would like to scroll back in time to access information for previous dates. Infinite scrolling makes navigation simpler for the user and makes bandwidth and servers resources low, thus making the site cheaper to run. However, it is more complicated to build, says March. While it could be a a great solution for the right type of problem, footers will never die.