Editing your website footer isn't exactly intuitive in WordPress. In fact, it can be downright frustrating at times.
But every page on your website features a footer.
So isn't it high time we explored how to customize your footer to improve usability, conversion and design aesthetic?
In today's article, you'll discover 4 methods to edit your WordPress footer, so you can choose the best approach for your business.
4 Methods to Edit your WordPress Footer
Together, we'll explore 4 ways to make changes to your website footer in WordPress.
We're not talking about small, one-time tweaks like adding copyright text. We're looking at full customization in terms of layout, design, content and functionality.
It won't come as any surprise that our preferred method is using Thrive Theme Builder, but we want to give it a fair comparison so you can judge it in context.
Let's get started...
Option 1: Edit the HTML code directly
If you're comfortable digging into the HTML, PHP and CSS code, you can edit your website footer directly.
Head on over to:
WordPress > Appearance > Theme Editor
In the Theme Files list on the right, you should find the main footer file (footer.php) and your stylesheet (style.css).
You'll need both files to edit your WordPress footer directly.
(Of course, you can edit this file via other methods like FTP. You don't have to use the built-in WordPress file editor.)
This method is available in all WordPress themes – but the more complex your theme, the more you risk breaking critical website functionality when editing code.
If you have a truly bespoke WordPress theme, this may be the only viable option for editing your website footer.
This is the most technical and least user-friendly method for editing your footer.
Editing code requires a lot of knowledge and experience. It's often better left to web designers because it has the potential to break your website if not done perfectly.
Even if you do know how to edit code, it can be slow and frustrating. Each WordPress theme is different – some are packed with obscure PHP code, or dependencies on other files that must also be edited.
This method is the most difficult to visualize. Directly editing the code adds a huge layer of abstraction between what you want and how you must build it.
Unless you're a full-time developer, editing your WordPress code is a painfully slow process.
Option 2: Use the WordPress theme Appearance Customizer
Some WordPress themes offer limited options to edit the footer in the Appearance Customizer.
Like the name suggests, it's more a convenient way to customize footer options, rather than make full design changes.
Not all themes support footer customization. You can check if yours does by going to:
WordPress > Appearance > Customize
A basic theme like Twenty Twenty doesn't offer a way to edit the footer via the WordPress Customizer.
A commercial theme like OceanWP features some footer customization options.
OceanWP is a fairly advanced WordPress theme, so it's a great example of this level of customization. You can edit text, change colors, and toggle a whole range of things. It's a huge improvement over editing the code directly.
But it's still just a system of toggles and switches.
You're limited by what the designers allow you to change.
The Appearance Customizer gives easy access to many options that would be otherwise hidden behind complex code. For a business owner or non-technical person, this is a huge time-saver.
It reduces the abstract thinking required to make simple changes. There's a closer visual connection between the process and the result. For example, choosing a color from a palette or wheel feels intuitive, rather than getting lost in pages of code.
You're still at the mercy of the theme designer with respects to what you can edit, and how.
The Appearance Customizer isn't really editing. It's closer to pressing buttons and filling in a few blanks. If a particular button isn't there, you're out of luck. In the above example (which shows a fairly advanced commercial theme), you can't choose a background gradient, change the font, or add a 5th column.
If an option isn't available in your Customizer, you'll still need to make changes to the HTML and CSS code.
Although this method is less abstract, it's still nowhere near the ultimate goal of true visual editing. There's still too much mental gymnastics required to transform what you want into a final design.
The Customizer is intended to make global changes. That means you're limited to a single footer design across your whole website. (We'll explain later why you might want different footers!)
Finally, this method quickly becomes tedious for footer edits more complicated than quick tweaks. You need to constantly switch between the editor and live page, refreshing the browser each time.
Edit - switch tabs - refresh - check - switch tabs - repeat.
Option 3: Use a footer widget
Widgets offer easy layout and customization options for WordPress websites.
Simply pick and choose which elements will appear in your footer, and in what order.
You can find this functionality at:
WordPress > Appearance > Widgets
Again, every theme offers different widget options, but even the default Twenty Twenty theme has footer options.
Let's add a search box and some text...
This footer editing method is quick and easy, but strictly limited to the widgets made available by your theme and plugins.
If you just want to change the footer text, or add a list of your latest posts, this approach might be best. It's simple and widely supported on most WordPress themes. For anything more complex, widgets are too limiting.
Widgets are idiot-proof.
I'm not suggesting you're in that club, but I'll be the first to admit I can find a way to jinx even the simplest of processes. I appreciate tools that focus on one job and hide all the distractions.
Standard WordPress widgets allow your team to update the content and layout of your WordPress footer, independent of the design. This means your design and branding remains locked in and consistent.
It's practically impossible to make real design changes with footer widgets.
Sure, advanced WordPress widgets might let you change the main color or toggle a few options, but nothing more. That's both the strength and weakness of widgets.
If you do want to make style changes (e.g. fonts, colors, padding), you'll still need to directly edit your WordPress stylesheet.css – meaning you either need a designer or some solid technical experience.
Like every footer customization method above, widgets are an unnecessary step removed from the final design. You're not editing your footer – you're editing an abstract box of options, requiring you to switch tabs and refresh your website.
Widgets usually affect your entire site – one website, one footer. There's no way to display different footer designs on specific page templates.
Option 4: Edit your footer with Thrive Theme Builder
Imagine if you could simply click on your footer and make changes.
No abstraction, no switching windows, no hammering the F5 key.
That's our goal with Thrive Theme Builder.
- Want to switch two elements? Just drag and drop.
- Want to change your phone number? Click and edit.
- Want to delete something? Just delete it.
- Want to have a widget area to add a 3rd party widget? No problem!
In fact, Thrive Theme Builder is the easiest, quickest and most powerful way to edit your WordPress footer. Thrive Theme Builder and the Shapeshift theme provide the most customizable theme editing solution out there.
Of course, you should be suspicious of grand claims like this.
So rather than tell you, let us show you.
Note: Below we're using Shapeshift, a fully customizable WordPress theme that comes bundled with Thrive Theme Builder. It's a great starting point for making your own design changes.
Choose from professionally designed footer templates
You don't need to reinvent the wheel to create a stunning website footer.
Thrive Theme Builder comes with a great collection of pre-designed footers to get started with. Just choose a template that mostly matches your website and save yourself precious time.
Remember that these are just starting templates – you still have total freedom to customize your footer!
Don't worry about finding the perfect footer, think of them as a starting point for your own creativity.
Make it your own
Although our footer templates are a great starting point, we encourage you to get creative!
Thrive Theme Builder includes a library of design elements ready to drop into your footer.
This can be as simple as adding your logo, or as advanced as adding a secondary navigation menu or contact form.
All our design elements are professionally designed and mobile-responsive.
Again, use them as a starting point with 90% of the work already done, and feel free to make any changes you think are necessary.
You can find more technical information on customizing Thrive Theme Builder's footer here.
True, accurate WYSIWYG.
What you see is what you get.
Or perhaps better described as what you edit is what your visitors see.
Editing your WordPress footer with Thrive Theme Builder is about as close as it gets to editing your live website.
Our visual editor provides an accurate representation of your published website.
No abstraction, no switching tabs, no refreshing.
If you want to edit some text, simply click and start editing.
If you want to widen a column, simply click and drag.
If you want to add a button, I'm sure you get the idea!
Edit your footer content and design in one place
Every other footer customization method separates your content from design – you can change the text, but not the font. Or change the color, but not the layout.
They force you to work in different browser tabs. It's a disjointed, frustrating process to edit anything but the most basic footer elements.
Thrive Theme Builder is different.
Everything is available to edit in our visual editor.
Change the starting template, layout, colors, typography, padding, responsiveness, content – everything.
All in one place.
This means no more messing around with CSS, or adding weird Frankenstein HTML to your widgets.
No more throwing <div> and <span> and <br /> tags around like it's 2005!
Thrive Theme Builder lets you display dynamic content in your footer, using our Smart Site technology.
This makes it a breeze to guarantee the same text across your website, without the risk of spelling mistakes or outdated information.
Just define a field in the Smart Site dashboard...
And watch it update anywhere on your website – such as your footer.
But you're not limited to basic fields like address and phone number.
You can add anything you can think of!
Affiliate disclaimer text
Store opening hours
Different store addresses and contact numbers
Of course, this information can be displayed anywhere on your theme, not just your footer.
Show different footers for specific page types
Thrive Theme Builder lets you show a different footer on every page type.
These are known as page templates in WordPress:
- Blog posts
- Normal blog posts
- Video posts
- Audio posts
- Archive pages
- Search results page
- 404 page
- Custom page templates
So what practical benefits does this offer?
Displaying different footers across your website is an advanced tactic that won't be necessary for many businesses. But it could be a powerful feature for some websites.
Here's some ideas...
- Perhaps you want to show different portfolio links and contact information for each author.
- Maybe you'd like to add a store map to pages – but not blog posts.
- Or display a minimalistic footer only on custom templates like directory listings.
Full control across different screen sizes
Thrive Theme Builder's footer templates work beautifully across all screen sizes, straight of the box.
Our designers make sure every element is optimized and responsive, from huge displays to tablets and smartphones. You don't have to do anything.
But if you do have a specific customization in mind, it's easy to make mobile-only changes to your footer.
The simplest way is to hide design elements for certain devices is with the Responsive settings found in the Thrive Editor left sidebar...
But there's nothing stopping you from creating entirely different footer designs for mobiles, if that benefits your business.
Over to You
Website footers are often overlooked.
They do much more than just draw a line under your content, but editing them can be a frustrating experience in WordPress. So much so, that I'll bet many websites stick with the default theme footer.
I've shared 4 methods for editing your WordPress footer – it will be interesting to see what ideas you come up with.