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My coworkers and I were discussing what might be a trend in e-commerce websites: expandable footers.

Here's an example from Topshop.com:

expandable desktop footer from Topshop

And when expanded:

expanded footer view from Topshop

I poked around for research or studies on expandable footers and came up empty. I'm curious if there's anything out there, or if anyone has personally tested these, around usability and how usable they may be.

My first instinct is that information and links like "Contact Us" should not be hidden from users, so I'm curious about any benefits to this approach. I also wonder if this is more of a design trend to minimize the footer across the experience and not necessarily for the benefit of the user.

Thanks!

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In my opinion its a bit redundant to hide footer information since they are already at the bottom of the page and there are no other information to surface. Your instinct is probably right, footer links serve as shortcut to other pages, it doesn't make sense to hide them.

The footer used in Topshop is not exactly your conventional footer. Its a navbar that sticks to the bottom of the page and allow me to access the footer information without having to scroll to the bottom of the page. I find it easy and convenient to access the footer information at any point on the page. Although expandable headers are more common (to surface more body content "above the fold"), this implementation of expendable footer works very well.

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I believe that it is well-thought to have a footer that can be found easily without scrolling to the bottom.

Nowadays, I have seen quite many websites (with https://www.zalando.nl/dames-home/ being one example) that have infinite scrolling on their homepage. A lot of times, the customer would like to find a way to contact the e-shop and due to this infinite scrolling, they can never reach the footer, which is quite frustrating.

I personally think that this solution is good for letting the user being in control of the website. Furthermore, one addition could be that the "Contact us" is more prominent in the footer and can be found without expanding it. But I would also say that if your website does not have infinite scrolling, then it might not be needed to keep the footer visible all the time.

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In light of adapting to minimalistic design, having an expandable footer may prove space-saving and allow for unique interactions if designed right. It allows the user to focus on the main content of the page and not get distracted by the overload of information footers provide in tiny font.

In http://us.topshop.com/?geoip=home having a sticky footer and a prominent "+" (expandable) sign is a good design but could be made better by mentioning all the topics that it contains information of. For example -the contact information is completely hidden unless the user expands the footer.

Another design approach - non-sticky footer, an upward arrow symbol at the beginning and possibly a contrasting color scheme. Check this - https://moqups.com/tapa8728@colorado.edu/yjB41GXd

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Looking at the heatmaps, you'll realise very less % of people reach to the footer. And those who scroll till there are the once who are finding an important link or a shortcut to reach to a desired page.

While traversing through the entire page in search of a link, I'm sure hiding that would be really mean. Just to make your design minimal, you might lose users.

You can wait for some more years when users will be more friendly with scrolling pages till the bottom. As people are getting used to the Hamburger menu icon with time, we still can't expect 100% of the people to know what those 3 lines stand for on the corner of the page/app.

In the same way we can't expect people to hover or click on the footer to expand it. Adding extra animation and making it fancy is not minimal!

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By scrolling to the bottom of the page a user assumes that they have reached the end of the fold. By hiding more information at the end of the page you are in fact creating a bigger cognitive load for the user to work out where they can find footer links.

In essence, a footer is the end of the page and it doesn't make much sense to hide it. If content is in the middle of the page, it may make sense to hide functions and information behind interactions. Having an overview, and then being able to 'zoom into' the information the user is seeking works for main content, because of it's placement in the information hierarchy, but it doesn't make sense for footers.

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First and foremost principle: Never hide important information from your user

Second: User Expectations: User might not be able to see the hidden same black + sign in the right most corner and chances are it is unexpected for normal user so avoid this technique

"+" symbol doesn't always mean expand, it could be add or user might think it will show a popup so avoid such symbols. Is it really clickable ? What does it do when i click on it? This design is totally against User Expectations

Why are you hiding help and contact information, i think some people try to call directly so don't hide footer (Test few scenarios for footer links or test some of your current customers to see what link they try to click or see from footer)

Third: Footer sometimes have less important/less used links which are not present in the top navigation. And user might look for them in footer if he don't find them in the top nav

I myself sometimes try to find policies in the footer as it is 99% of the time lying there somewhere at the bottom...

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