How to Edit Your Website Footer in WordPress

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.

More...

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.)

Editing theme files directly in WordPress

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Does your theme support footer customization?

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.

Customization options depend on your WordPress theme

Pros

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.

Cons

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...

Editing the footer widgets in WordPress

The resulting footer changes on the published website

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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 soulition 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!

At the time of writing, there are 27 professionally designed footers to choose from.

Don't worry about finding the perfect footer, think of them as a starting point for your own creativity.

Pre-designed footer templates available to use in your theme

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!

Dynamic content

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...

Setting global fields that can be used anywhere on your website

And watch it update anywhere on your website – such as your footer.

Automatically displaying address, phone number and email address.

But you're not limited to basic fields like address and phone number.

You can add anything you can think of!

✔ Privacy policy link

✔ 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:

  • Homepage
  • Pages
  • Blog posts
    • Normal blog posts
    • Video posts
    • Audio posts
  • Archive pages
    • Categories
    • Tags
    • Authors
    • Dates
  • 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...

Hiding elements on smaller screens for better usability

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.

Author: David Lindop

    David is a writer who is passionate about ethical and sustainable online marketing. He relaxes by writing fiction, learning foreign languages, and making things out of wood - but probably not all at the same time.

  • Karen M McCamy says:

    Hey, David!

    Great tutorial & so important! I think ignoring a custom footer is 2nd only to custom “404” pages…both of which you and your amazing team have covered recently! ;-)

    And Thrive Theme Builder makes it so easy! I’m so pleased with all of the pre-designed templates for all the theme elements your designers have included! I am NOT a designer & I always tend to over-complicate the design, so having a professionally designed template to start from is awesome!

    I have a couple of questions that are tangential to “footers” but your post reminded to ask:

    1. Your Thrive screenshots of menus or portions of menus (and the like) are so clean and beautifully annotated with arrows, boxes, etc. I’m wondering what tool(s) you use for this?

    2. Thrive tutorials frequently include “in-motion” graphics of screenshots, like where you are scrolling through & illustrating the variety Architect/TTB design elements available… I’ve always wondered if these are GIFs & how they are created? They are great teaching tools, and I’d love to be able to include them in my own tutorials!

    Thanks so much for everything you & your Thrive team associates do for us! <3

    • David Lindop says:

      I’m so happy someone noticed :)

      1. Annotated images

      I mostly use Greenshot for annotated screenshots. It’s completely free and open source.

      https://getgreenshot.org/

      For more complex images I use Photoshop. Arrows are a hidden feature – you can add an arrowhead to the line tool by clicking the ⚙ (cog/gear?) icon. I use width and length 600%. The color of your arrow is set by the fill color, not the stroke color.

      2. Animated images

      We all use different tools here at Thrive.

      I personally use Camtasia to record my screen, add annotations, and then save it as a GIF. It’s expensive, so I would only recommend buying it if you also do a lot of video editing.

      Other Thrive team members use Snagit or CloudApp. Most are much cheaper!

      One last thing… animated GIFs from these tools are often very large. You need to optimize them before loading into WordPress. Both Kraken.io and Ezgif are free, powerful tools to make your GIFs smaller without compromising much quality.

      Hope that helps!

      • Karen McCamy says:

        Hi David,

        Of course I noticed! ;-) LoL! Your videos are always excellent! :-}

        Thanks so much for all the information! <3

        I'd never heard of "Greenshot" but am going to take a look at it today! Sounds like it does everything I'll need for screenshot annotation! :D

        Personally, I'm "Photoshop-Challenged" ;-p… LoL! And I don't own it ($$$) anyway!

        I know about Camtasia from taking Shane's 'Course Craft' but haven't tried it yet (looks like Loom has matured over the past year so hoping I won't have to go the Camtasia route; Camtasia is very robust but steeper learning curve!) I honestly never thought of using Camtasia for making GIFs! ;-)

        I do have SnagIt/Jing, so one of those might work for the GIFs… I'm also aware of Kraken.io from Thrive's recommendation but also had not heard of Ezgif… I'll give it it a look also!

        Thank you again!

  • Cheefoo says:

    Thanks for the post on footer flexibility. However, it seems like footer is not able to set nofollow link from social icons. This is important as it is not necessary to pass the previous link juice to social media.

    Also, what’s your recommendation when Web design firm tend to add their company links at the footer? Good or bad?

    • David Lindop says:

      Our pre-designed footers contain social icon links which pull data from the Smart Site fields. They don’t currently support nofollow attributes.

      If you want to add a nofollow attribute, you can add your own social media links directly in the visual editor. There’s a checkbox in the link options to add nofollow.

      With regards to web design firms adding their company links to your footer, I’d say read this excellent article by Marie Haynes. She pulls together all the advice from Google about footer best practices.

      John Mueller of Google, advises the following…

      “If… in exchange for maybe a lower cost hosting, then that could be considered an exchanged link and an unnatural link. It’s something that the webspam team might take action on.”

      “If you’ve just been adding these links across the board for all of these websites and essentially this is not something that the webmaster naturally places on their website then that… might be seen as kind of passing unnaturally.”

      “If you do that and you have a nofollow attached to that link then that’s absolutely no problem.”

      “Make sure… it’s actually a link to your business and not something like, ‘Cheap Web Hosting’ is being the anchor text.”

    • Hey Cheefoo, on top of what David has said you’ll be pleased to know that our developers are currently working on improvements to the social icons feature which will include ‘No Follow’ and ‘Open In New Tab’ options.

      • Cheefoo says:

        That’s good news!

  • oilap says:

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work!

  • MamaRed says:

    Love it…as always, I learn something new! I one of your examples (and the preformatted footer sections), there is something called “Useful Links.”

    Is that being created using as “Menu” element or individual links?

    Thanks for all you do!

    • David Lindop says:

      By default, the Useful Links section automatically displays a list of pages.

      However, I recommend replacing the list with your own links so you can control exactly which links are displayed. You could include a custom menu in the footer too, which would give you more global control from the WordPress menu editor.

      • MamaRed says:

        Thanks bunches David!

  • Hi David, I think this is an easy topic for WordPress User, but it’s in details article or you say an informative content which will help the WordPress beginners.

  • Hi thanks for the info! I’m interested in “ Show different footers for specific page types” I have many Thrive Architect custom sales funnels pages on my site and I want to create an ultra simple footer for all of them and have them all connected. This way, when I need to change some information, I can do it once and the changes are made on all my sales funnel pages. Where can I find a tutorial on how to do this for Thrive Theme Builder? Thanks.

  • >