No this isn’t about obesity, it is about a key aspect to the Judge Group’s intranet redesign. At a recent J. Boye Boston Intranet group meeting Dan Lewis, Intranet Manager for the Judge Group, spoke about his intranet redesign. Dan chose a “search first” design approach but he knew some users would need navigation aides to get to content. The question was how to handle navigation. Dan didn’t want a cluttered page with navigation, so he used a concept called “fat footer”:
If you’ve ever been part of a web re-design, you know about the real estate battle, especially the space “above the fold.” Every stakeholder wants their pet link front and center on the home page. I’ve seen many ‘creative’ menu or site map designs. There are headers with flyouts or hidden menus that expose themselves when you mouse over them.
When you try and use some of the more innovative approaches you need to explain them and why they are better than your existing approach. To get buy-in you may have to run usability tests or A/B tests. You can then tweak the design and repeat the testing until everyone is happy - if that is possible!
All of this seems like a waste of time and money. I think Dan got it right: put everything in the footer. You don’t need to be concerned with space so you can expose many more second level links. You can add images or other space hogs in the footer. Moreover, as it is at the bottom you can use some AJAX tricks to delay loading the footer to prevent any performance hit of downloading and rendering the Fat Footer’s HTML. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; I’ve listed a few good resources to design a Fat Footer.
So bask in the glory of having cleared up your front page by introducing a bloated and heavy footer.
Learn more about fat footers
As I've learned more about this concept, I've enjoyed these articles:
- UI Patterns: Fat Footer
- Seopher: The 7 best fat footers used on high profile sites
- Sitepoint: Ten Fat Footers
- Smashing Magazine: Informative And Usable Footers In Web Design
Next step for your intranet
- Learn from the best: You can still join the J. Boye Philadelphia 12 conference in May, which has both an intranet conference track as well as a user experience conference track.
- Share with the best: This brief article is based on a J. Boye group meeting. Join one of our many J. Boye intranet groups across Europe and North America.
- How does your intranet measure up? Usability is a part of our intranet benchmarking!