Author’s note: all of the website behaviors and aesthetics I relay below are true as of the publishing of this post. Experiential elements can change at the drop of a sneeze, a yawn, a grin, or a blink.
Update: I came across the website for a restaurant called Marcel in Atlanta. Scroll all the way down to the footer. You see the word “Credits” next to the copyright line? Click on it. An overlay appears with the the names of the people who worked on the visual and operational elements of the site. The source code look like this:
Maybe the Falcons footer wanted to do something similar?
My professional endeavors began in the mid-to-late-2000s just before the birth of the first iPhone. A substantial portion of my work responsibilities included doing QC of website and email newsletter footers for current copyright year and dead links. It’s been ingrained in me to care about inaccurate information and unusual behaviors down there. Years later, I am still making a bee-line for the footer on any website that may be a potential employer or recipient of my money in exchange for goods or services.
You may be able to imagine my mild surprise when I took a jaunt through the Atlanta Falcons website on a random night this week and noticed an outdated copyright year and two footer links that reloaded the home page instead of where they may have once gone to (an ecommerce destination and Arthur Blank’s business website). I hadn’t visited the site since the news broke that Matt Ryan would no longer be quarterback; I don’t know what compelled me to go there, but go there I did.
Mild surprise turned into befuddlement after I checked the footers for all 32 NFL teams. The Falcons footer is adequately representative of what can be expected when visiting any NFL team’s site — columns of links with “headers” that may or may not be clickable depending on the team and a copyright year that may or may not reflect the current year:
Do you see the “Shop” and “Blank Family of Business” on the right side of the screen? When you mouse over them, the cursor turns into a hand icon, indicating that the words are clickable. When you click them, though, they reload the page and you’re taken to the top. During my digital content coordination days, I inherited many basic non-cms website updating and troubleshooting tasks from front-end developers. They taught me how to inspect elements and other parts of source code.
Doing so with the Falcons footer revealed:
I hypothesized that once upon a time, Shop and BFOB went somewhere, and the empty URLs and surrounding code were never updated to be consistent with the other non-clickable “header” terms down there, like “Tickets”:
I impart this assessment in the kindest way possible: it’s a mess in the NFL. I had to make a google sheet to organize my findings. Here’s a sample of the NFC South, North, and East. The “Minimal,” “Moderate,” and “Overwhelming” qualifiers in the “Footer Style” column refers to how much space the footer links take up and how they impressed me upon initial glance:
Here’s the view of the NFC East and West with more columns of information; their copyrights are much better-lookin’ than that of the NFC South and North:
Out of the NFC teams, only the Falcons, Saints, and Cowboys have “Shop” in the footer “headers.” None of the AFC teams do; their copyright years are about as variable as the NFC’s. None of the AFC footers have deceptively clickable links.
I couldn’t let the MLB, NBA, MLS, or NHL footers go unvisited, now could I? I did not make any google sheets for them, but I did compile the below.
The footers for all 30 MLB teams follow a near-identical template:
Where the Braves footer says, “Advertising Partnerships,” the Orioles footer has “Corporate Partnerships,” the White Sox opts for just “Partnerships,” and the Rockies present “Partnership Opportunities.”
~ All other teams that use “Advertising”: Red Sox, Yankees, Reds, Tigers, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Phillies, Pirates, Padres, Cardinals, Rays.
~ All other teams that use “Corporate”: Cubs, Mets, Giants, Nationals.
~ All other teams that use “Partnerships”: White Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays.
~ All other teams that use “Opportunities”: Mariners.
And then there’s the Guardians footer with “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion” instead of any “Partnerships.”
The Royals don’t have anything in that space.
~ All other teams with nothing in that space: Twins, Rangers.
The Texas Rangers logo is a bit hard to read against the dark background.
As for the NBA, the legal footer is likely globally applied across all teams sites; copyright year is current. The rest of the footer varies slightly between teams. It’s not as minimalist as the MLB; I’d say it’s moderately full of links.
The Hawks footer is representative of how it appears across most of the 30 teams’ sites (columns of links on the left and middle of the page and the social media platforms on the far right).
~ All other teams that have a similar footer: Hornets, Knicks, Sixers, Raptors, Cavaliers, Pistons, Pacers, Bucks, Magic, Wizards, Hawks, Timberwolves, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Jazz, Lakers, Kings, Rockets, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Spurs.
The Bulls is the only team without social icons on the far right.
And then there’s the Celtics footer, which looks very different, including the legal footer. Notice the old Turner logo at the bottom of the page.
~ All other teams that have a similarly different footer: Nets, Heat, Warriors, Clippers, Suns, Mavericks.
What about the MLS? With Atlanta United as the starting point, the legal footer is probably globally applied, so the copyright year should be current across the league’s 29 clubs. I wish the NFL footers looked like the MLS ones. The overall appearance of the footer aesthetic ranges from minimal (Cincinnati) to moderately overwhelming (Atlanta) to overwhelming (Charlotte).
~ All other clubs with a similar footer: Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, DC, Houston, LA Galaxy, Miami, Minnesota (the TikTock icon is not like the others), Montreal, Nashville, New England, New York City, New York Red Bulls, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, Real Salt Lake, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, Toronto.
Colorado’s footer doesn’t have social media icons, otherwise it looks like the rest.
~ All other club sites without social media icons: LAFC, Sporting KC, Vancouver.
Now, onto the NHL footers — too bad Atlanta doesn’t have the Thrashers anymore. There are two main footer outfits, the one resembling the Carolina Hurricanes [team logo, links, legal verbiage, and the league logo (sponsor logos and copyright of 1999-2021)] with variable terminology for companies that provide financial/sociological support and copyright years.
Instead of “Platinum Partners,” as the Hurricanes calls them, Pittsburgh Penguins (2020) and Seattle Kracken (2020) call their sponsors “Founding Partners.” Washington Capitals (2020) refer to them as “Proud Sponsors.” Tampa Bay Lightning (1999-2020) has “Championship Partners.” Nashville Predators (1999-2022) has “Presenting Sponsors.” Anaheim Ducks (2021) has “Proud Partners.” Calgary Flames (1999-2020) has “Affiliates.”
The other outfit doesn’t have sponsor logos, such as the Columbus Blue Jackets (2020).
~ All other teams sans sponsor logos: Devils (1999-2022), Islanders (1999-2018), Rangers (1999-2022), Flyers (1999-2020), Sabres (1999-2018), Red Wings (2020), Panthers (1999-2020), Canadiens (1999-2020), Senators (1999-2020), Maple Leafs (1999-2020), Coyotes (1999-2020), Blackhawks (1999-2020), Avalanche (1999-2018), Stars (1999-2022), Minnesota Wild (1999-2020), Blues (1999-2020), Jets (1999-2020), Oilers (1999-2020), Kings (1999-2019), Sharks (1999-2020), Canucks (1999-2020), Golden Knights (1999-2020).
I might do ballet company footers next. Why? Ballet companies aren’t bound by any overall rules or strategy as franchises in sports leagues. So, there’s arguably much more discretion in design/functionality that appeal to their platinum level donors
or casual performing arts fans and that also meet overall web standards.