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The footer isn't designed to list every site... We should consider randomizing the list, perhaps, to give all sites a chance... but first, the question is "does anyone even use the footer?" - Anna Lear, 1 June 2014

So what do people like about the footer? Do you use the links to the sites, or do you use the SE drop down? Would you like the sites to be randomised - maybe a new measure called Hot Network Sites.

Is the footer too big or too small? Would you miss it if it went down to just the essentials, with no sites, a little like this:

Is there anything that the footer could do - totally different to what it does maybe - that it doesn't do currently? Perhaps just one site, the current Featured Network Site (okay, bad graphics):

What else could it do?

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    I rarely ever click on a footer link. Anything I need to get to I just use the top dropdown site multi collider thing or the help dropdown link. I bet the site links in the footer are good to have for non-logged in users that are new to the SE network. So they can see SE isn't just 1 site but many sites. So maybe the footer should be different for logged in users only? – CRABOLO Jun 5 '15 at 15:38
  • @Dronehinge that's an interesting idea - if you have time you could write up into an answer? I didn't thought of that. – Tim Jun 5 '15 at 15:40
  • I didn't even know that there was a footer until that mention of it on the first.... It's such a long way to scroll to get to it, really. If I want to get to a site, I use the drop-down at the top of the page. I think the footer should have a "return to top" button and then the specialty links that all company uses. – Catija Jun 5 '15 at 16:03
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I never use the footer. Well, almost never -- I've used "contact us" once or twice, and one or two of the other links in that row. But the site list doesn't help me at all. Here's why:

footer with freehand circles and stuff

The footer is a poor way to browse sites. As Anna indicated, it's incomplete. The text is small. On at least some sites the contrast is poor. Who's got time for that?

Now if I'm looking for a specific site there's already a better way to do it (the site selector), so no changes of content or styling in this footer would make a difference for me. But the site selector is a suboptimal way to browse; if you don't know the name of the site you want, you get to browse an alphabetical list of 140+ entries. Not ideal. We have the concept of categories; it'd be great to be able to easily use them to browse.

The category headers in the footer are just text. If, instead, clicking on a category got me to a full list of the sites in that category, that'd be handy.

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    Or maybe (I'm bad at CSS give me a moment for an image) you click one and the list fills the whole footer - like tabs – Tim Jun 5 '15 at 15:47
  • Maybe, but it'd have to be more legible (size, contrast) too. I was thinking of one of those "inline popups" (I don't know what the web guys call those, but like the close dialogue) so it could use more of the page, but be easily dismissable. – Monica Cellio Jun 5 '15 at 15:49
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    imgur.com/SFIEh5X is what I thought of. That sounds like a reasonable idea, the dismissable popup! – Tim Jun 5 '15 at 15:59
  • I don't "browse" the list... I type in a keyword and usually find the site I want pretty quickly... even if I'm just trying to figure out if a site exists. – Catija Jun 5 '15 at 16:05
  • I'd like to point out that the footer is much more legible on other SE sites: light blue on less-light blue just doesn't read well. – Zibbobz Jun 5 '15 at 16:49
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If someone ends up at the bottom of the page, it's because they're either looking for footer info (usually contact, FAQ, etc), or because they finished the content of the page, but haven't already decided where to go next.

We already have related questions on this site in the sidebar, and hot network questions (unrelated questions on other sites that are active.

Let's consider putting a related questions on other sites below. Further, let's make is simple and short - four or five sites closely related to this site's topic, each site has the name of the site, the icon, then immediately below a question title or two from that site related to the content they just finished reading, and, if applicable, an image from the question or an answer to that question.

I like the idea of only showcasing answered, well rated questions, preferably with visual content, but it does look a little "advertisy". However, that's because it works - if someone is just wasting time on the sites, what better way to keep giving them interesting content?

Sorry for the lack of freehand circles, I'm running out of time:

enter image description here

  • Didn't have time to complete the background, either, so it looks particularly bad. – Pollyanna Jun 5 '15 at 16:32
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    It's a nice idea, but that would mean a question would need to have an image (a cc by sa 3.0 image) for every highly rated question... I like the simple 5 questions idea though :) – Tim Jun 5 '15 at 16:35
  • @Tim Right, and as I was searching for relevant "garage" questions on relevant sites, I did notice questions with images are uncommon. But I wouldn't suggest getting images just to display the question - some will have images, some won't (just as in my example). You could more highly rank a question if it has visual content, though, and you would end up with a more visually interesting footer. – Pollyanna Jun 5 '15 at 16:40
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    Ahh I see, taking the image from the body. I was thinking it was going to be a "people have to add the image to it" thing. No, nice idea :) – Tim Jun 5 '15 at 16:42
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    I like the suggestion of paring the footer down to just a few typical "footer-ish" links, but I hate hate hate the suggestion of turning the bottom of the page into something even remotely reminiscent of the black hole of stock images and clickbait titles that has infected the internet since two-thousand-and-get-off-my-porch – Air Jun 5 '15 at 17:33
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    @Air I hate the way that's done on other clickbait sites as well. I'm wondering if we can provide useful, interesting things to users without having the negative aspects. For me, the worst aspect is the bait and switch - the content isn't nearly as interesting as the title. In this case that wouldn't happen - the question title describes the content. Adding the images adds interestingness, but may be too visually distracting, so maybe we don't implement that. But I do believe we should attract users cross-site, and we don't currently do that except through hot network questions. – Pollyanna Jun 5 '15 at 18:15
  • What? A downvote? My world shatters! I'm the only person here allowed to have opinions! – Pollyanna Jun 5 '15 at 18:38
  • answers.com is not a good look for SE... :) – Tim Jun 5 '15 at 20:14
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    Related questions on other sites yes; preferring questions with images when the vast majority of posts don't have images no. I'd like the most-relevant content, not the most-relevant content that somebody added cute kitten pics to for footer placement. Or even gratuitous screen shots. – Monica Cellio Jun 5 '15 at 21:17

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