Read this post to learn about the basics of accessing and editing the all-important WordPress .htaccess file for better performance and security.
The footer’s position underneath the content part and way below the fold makes the user engagement seem unlikely. So you might be tempted to neglect it altogether. However, it pays off to invest time and effort into making it as good as the rest of the website.
Visitors will scroll all the way down to the footer if they are looking for some information and can’t find it on the rest of the site. And if they can’t find it even there, they may get frustrated.
A well-structured footer, on the other hand, will help you strengthen your brand, build user trust and retain visitors. Besides, you don’t need any additional monetary investments since all the tools you need for working with the footer in WordPress are available free of charge.
Once you’ve made up your mind about what you want to include in your footer, you need to decide on how to edit it. It partly depends on the WordPress theme you are using as different themes use different methods to allow you to customize the footer content.
Editing With the Customizer
This is where you should start. WordPress Customizer may be the most user-friendly tool for editing the footer since it is completely visual. To access it, go to Appearance -> Customize or click the Customize shortcut icon on the top panel of your WordPress installation in the Visit Site mode.
It shows a panel with various customization options on the left and a live preview of the site on the right. You can also edit directly from the live preview by clicking the blue pencil button icons.
In case you have questions, WordPress offers a comprehensive guide on how to use the Customizer.
The customizer is the default option in WordPress. Even the free WordPress.org themes like Twenty Twenty enable editing with it. However, the options for editing the footer in those themes are limited: you can edit the widget areas (more about widgets below) in the top part of the footer, but the bottom part is locked. You will not be able to remove or edit the copyright message or make any other changes through this interface.
The good news is that many commercial WordPress themes enhance the Customizer and offer more flexibility. Popular themes like Astra, OceanWP, Neve, or Sydney allow you to change the Copyright message, add blocks and, in general, structure your footer the way you like, even in the free versions. Just click on the area you would like to edit on the preview and configure it using the options in the left panel.
But not all free themes have this functionality. In some, you have to upgrade to the Pro version to be able to edit parts of the footer, for example, the Copyright message.
Note: Editing the Copyright Message
It is legal to remove or edit the “Powered by WordPress” copyright text since WordPress is open-source software, so any part of the code can be modified. Moreover, it is desirable to remove this message to make your footer look more professional. Many themes will have a special window for you to edit the message. For example, here is how the Astra theme handles it:
On the other hand, removing or modifying the theme copyright message may go against your theme provider’s policies, so make sure to check the theme documentation before you do it. For example, this Inspiro theme by WP Zoom does not allow you to modify the Copyright message in the free version.
Editing with Widgets
Widgets are small blocks of content you can add to your site without meddling with the code. They are usually displayed in the footer, header or sidebar and can appear on every page of the site. For example, a contact form, a footer menu or social media icons are often configured with the help of a widget.
Most WordPress themes include widget areas where you can put a number of different widgets. WordPress.org themes offer minimal widget use – typically just one area in the footer. Commercial themes have more widget areas.
To add or edit a widget, go to Appearance -> Widgets, choose a widget area you would like to modify and edit the existing widgets or click the “+” bar and select a widget you’d like to add. Make sure to click the “Browse all” button to view the whole array of available widgets for that area.
You can also access the widgets from Appearance -> Customize. You’ll see the Widgets tab in the left panel. From there, you can choose the footer widget you want to modify or add new blocks to the available areas. Another option is to click on the blue pencil icons on the preview. If it’s a widget, the editing interface for that item will open and let you edit it.
Editing a WordPress footer with widgets can be a breeze if your theme makes good use of them. However, not all footer content may be editable with widgets, especially if the theme is free.
Also, some widgets may get lost if you change themes because those areas may not be supported in the new theme, or their design may break, making them look messy. Just keep this in mind if you decide to activate a different theme, and don’t forget to back up your site before doing it.
Suppose you are completely unhappy with the footer editing options your theme provides. In that case, you may want to try and build your very own footer with a drag and drop page builder, for example, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, or Elementor. We will focus on Elementor here since it is the most popular and enjoys the most support. It has both free and premium versions. We will use the free version in this guide.
Make sure that the theme you are using is compatible with Elementor. Due to the plugin’s popularity, many themes are now made to work with it, and some even offer their own Elementor add-ons to boost its functionality. You can check the compatibility in your theme’s specifications.
To edit the footer, you have to install and activate the Elementor plugin itself as well as the Elementor Header and Footer Builder plugin. When both plugins are activated, go to Appearance -> Elementor Header and Footer Builder and click Add New.
Fill in the footer title and select “Footer” in the “Type or template” field. Choose which pages you will display it on, and click on the “Edit with Elementor” button.
This will get you into the Elementor editing interface. You will see different available blocks on the left, which you can drag and drop into your footer. On the top, there are general Elementor blocks. To access the footer-specific ones, you’ll need to scroll down until you see the Elementor Header and Footer Builder blocks.
Although the interface is very intuitive, you might want to check the Elementor’s beginner guide, especially if you have no prior experience with drag and drop editors.
Building things drag-and-drop sounds easy and exciting. However, you should be aware that the footer won’t be integrated into the rest of the design. You will have to build it literally from scratch, and chances are it will look patchy unless you already know a thing or two about web design or are prepared to invest time and effort into learning the basics.
Changing the PHP Code
This one is the hard-core option of footer editing. It is easy to locate the PHP file responsible for displaying the footer. You will find it in Appearance -> Theme editor – footer.php.
However, messing up with this file is undesirable unless you know how to code in PHP. If you accidentally break the code in the file, the whole site will stop displaying. That is why we will not show any quick hacks or tricks on how to do it here. That being said, if you are set on editing the footer.php file (or any of the files it refers to), remember to back up your site so that you can restore it if something goes wrong.
In this guide, we looked at the four main methods of editing the footer in a WordPress site and analyzed the pros and cons of each one. The easiest two are using the WordPress Customizer and the Widgets menu. If they are not enough, you may want to try a drag and drop plugin to build your own footer.
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