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I'm working on a mobile website and I have to consider quite many links within the footer - depending on the country version from 13 to 18. The links have to be in the footer, so there's no discussion here.

It's possible to group the information and make up 3 clusters.

Option 1: Link lists

I actually don't mind the long list as the cluster titles give a pretty clear overview of the available clusters. I do not consider the page length / need to scroll a bad UX.

Option 2: Clusters

However, I'm still wondering if it would be preferable to use an accordion instead. The first cluster integrates the most important contents of the website - so I wouldn't use the accordion here. But cluster 2 and 3 might be collapsed initially.

I like the idea of the accordion as it organizes the information. Yet, I guess I'm hiding information at the first glance.

What're the pros and cons for one solution or the other?

enter image description here

  • Do you have any idea if people actually use the links in the footer from a mobile device? If not, I see no problem hiding them... – André Nov 13 '14 at 12:00
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There might be a case when the number of links in one of the panels of the accordion is so large that the user ought to scroll to see all them. In which case, using an accordion instead of a long list seems futile. But, at the same time, when using a long list the user may not be able to view all the sections and links in one go. Accordion, at least addresses part of this problem by providing all top level section information at a glance.

So, to me, accordion seems to be a better option of the two. Simply because if the user is expected to scroll through a really long list that doesn't seem to end then there is every possibility that the user might abandon the application or using that control altogether.

Also, to suggest an alternative, how about a tab-menu at the bottom of the page as shown in the mock-up below?

enter image description here

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I think a link list is the option to go for.

When a user gets to the bottom of the mobile page, providing a list of all (or many links) is a good way for them to find any content they may or may not be looking for. Adding an accordion is all well and good, but it costs users an extra click to see content that would otherwise be there, whereas using a list costs nothing but adds a layer of complexity. If using an accordion were to somehow decrease page load time then I would be more in favour, however in most cases lists are text and so this won't be an issue.

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  • What is your goal?
  • What is your users goal?

Even with footers you may have some specific items that a user is likely to be interested in and interact with. Also some elements or navigation that you see as a high value conversion.

Design the UI for your content, not an abstract idea of one pattern or widget being "better" than another.

By rule of thumb

  • show: often used elements
  • show: high value conversions
  • fold up: sections of low priority information that fall into strong grouping

Still this is dependant on exact content and context of use. A/B test on this should be easy.

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