One of my LinkedIn network peeps recently showed a status of “Biggest Footer Eva!” with a link to the Zappos.com site. I went to see for myself and had a pretty decent laugh over it. I did some Googling and browsing this morning to see what, if any, discussion there might be of this super tall footer. For starts, @erikvorhes, my own personal “feeling lucky” button, pointed me in the direction of this post.

Totally get that whole I’m reading down a page and now I’m at the end thing. I’ve definitely grown to like the rich footer. We’ve been pushing these things all year long, but apparently rather conservatively. Witness the teensy one we made for Shure or the new GE Citizenship site.

Up until now, I’ve thought these are reasonably sized footers. They give users some place to go, but not too many places to go. The Zappos footer seems huge at 16KB of HTML and several hundred pixels tall.  However, if you figure that Zappos gets a couple million unique visits a month, that’s only about 6GB of footer getting pushed out into the interwebs. So really, no big deal, right? Happy Cog are no dummies and neither are the folks at Zappos.

I’ve been trying to argue designers and clients into believing that users don’t mind scrolling for years. So, while at first glance the sheer size of the Zappos footer feels weird to me, I can’t help but wonder if I don’t like this better than the giant grow out navigation overlays or other now-you-see-it now-you-don’t gimmicks I’ve been seeing used as a means of exposing ever-growing site structures.

I’ve poked around for some more discussion of the footer aspect of Zappos UI, but can’t find anything tonight. Happy Cog’s post focuses on the project in general, but doesn’t specifically get onto footer. If anyone sees a post let me know. I’m curious to see what others think (once they stop and get past the initial shock).

5 thoughts on “The Zappos.com Footer

  1. My reluctance to pile on the links and build a huge interlinking footer in some parts on my site lies in the decreased value of the text links on the higher Page Rank (PR) pages. If you have a PR5 page and have let’s say 20 links on it the keywords embedded in those 20 text links divides the PR5 by 20 and gives a bit of internal link credit to all those pages. If you have 100 text links on the PR5 page that internal linking juice gets divided even further. For that reason I have different footers within 1 section of my site, 1 set for high PR pages and 1 set for deep link pages. That said, none of this matters to Zappos since they are not purely relying on SEO to drive traffic…. so la te da…

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  2. Mike, to Fischer’s point, the abundance of links will actually dilute PR for the internal links. At least if you believe the conventional wisdom about PR shaping. I was hoping someone would chime in with that, because I was really wondering why none of those links have no-follow attributes on them. In my mind, either Zappos has decided that the CW is wrong or, as Fischer alludes, they have so much juice they just don’t give a damn.

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  3. Matt Cutts discourages the use of the nofollow tag in this interview/post: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/

    quoted from above referenced post on MattCutts.com:
    “Q: Does this mean “PageRank sculpting” (trying to change how PageRank flows within your site using e.g. nofollow) is a bad idea?
    A: I wouldn’t recommend it, because it isn’t the most effective way to utilize your PageRank. In general, I would let PageRank flow freely within your site. The notion of “PageRank sculpting” has always been a second- or third-order recommendation for us. I would recommend the first-order things to pay attention to are 1) making great content that will attract links in the first place, and 2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site usable/crawlable for humans and search engines alike.

    For example, it makes a much bigger difference to make sure that people (and bots) can reach the pages on your site by clicking links than it ever did to sculpt PageRank. If you run an e-commerce site, another example of good site architecture would be putting products front-and-center on your web site vs. burying them deep within your site so that visitors and search engines have to click on many links to get to your products.

    There may be a miniscule number of pages (such as links to a shopping cart or to a login page) that I might add nofollow on, just because those pages are different for every user and they aren’t that helpful to show up in search engines. But in general, I wouldn’t recommend PageRank sculpting.”

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    • Right. So either way, the giant footer of link isn’t really there for SEO. It’s not a spam thing. I think the only think we can conclude then is that this thing is there for users pure and simple. In my mind, it makes way more sense than the crazy navigation like I’ve seen on sites like EMC. I think the NICE thing about the footer is you get a layer cake that starts with basic header navigation for folks that like to drill and a search box for the searchy types. Then you’ve got your feature content for exploratory users. Lastly, at the bottom of the page you’ve got your whole site structure layed out for all to see, such that if they’ve made it past the top three layers without figuring out what to do, they’ve got a good picture of all the options. That’s not an ideal way to get around a site, but it’s always there as a fallback. Who knows, maybe heat maps will show high usage and we’ll all be rushing to build full site maps into our footers next year. (if the web isn’t dead by then)

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