Designing Effective FAQ Pages
Frequently Asked Questions also known as FAQ pages, are online pages that contain a series of commonly ask questions and answers on a particular topic, usually revolving around different aspects of the website. Ideally, FAQ pages should help users find answers to their questions quickly and easily without the need for support. This article will explore several aspects of FAQ page creation, ranging from design to efficiency as there are many things that can diminish the effectives of an FAQ page.
Infrequently asked questions:
More often than not, some website owners will launch their new website with a FAQ page. In general, a new website will typically not have any users yet; therefore there would not be any questions received. Without the feedback of true website users, FAQ content is be based on the site owner’s assumptions of what users questions might be.
Irrelevant and OFF Topic questions:
We have all seen some FAQ pages with odd questions, some of which might have never come across anyone’s mind. Usually, these are the questions that the website owners think of. For example, “who are the talented people administering this website? or “why is this website so amazing?”
Page label is not intuitive:
It is not obvious that every user knows the meaning of the label “FAQ”. It is therefore important for the web-designers to consider users who do not understand technical terminologies. A label or a link reading “Frequently asked questions” is clearer than the one reading “FAQ”.
FAQ page is not really a necessity:
Although many websites may contain an FAQ page, some websites may not require one in the first place. Depending on nature and purpose of the website, there are some sites, where users can find all the information they need without the help of an FAQ page. Adding a FAQ page just for the sake of adding is not effective site design or usability. Also, when users are able to find what they need without the help of an FAQ page, this is an indication of well designed information architecture on the website, which is what every web designer and web manager should strive for. For example, an online shop may present shopping instructions and prices on a specific page. If this same information is also included in a FAQ page, then the information becomes redundant.
Quick rule of thumb – if the same information can be relayed in many ways, separate locations, on one website, then there is something wrong with the information architect of that website. Everything should be properly positioned in the correct page in its correct navigation location.
Designing an effective FAQ page:
Say “NO” to FAQ pages:
This is one of the basic steps in web designing whereby, you should strive for straightforwardness and eliminate things that are simply unnecessary. The FAQ page supports the rest of the site’s content; so, if it does not augment what is already there, then it should not be a precedence. Your website users are the one to indicate when the FAQ is required. If you start getting the same questions asked over and over again or reoccurring feedback, then that should prompt you to provide an FAQ page. In general, you should let the users to determine if they require an FAQ or not.
Collect the right questions:
All questions on an FAQ page should be real. If your website is new, you should choose a timeframe like a month, and then study and categorize the questions that the users have asked through email or calls during that period. You can even announce your open questions timeframe on your website. If some patterns emerge, that is an indication that a certain topic should be addressed on the FAQ page. Which in turn, is beneficial to the website owner as this information can be updated as often as needed; this is an important step since you will be involving your website users in the creation of content for that page.
Providing good entry points:
For an FAQ page to be usable, users should be able to locate it easily. An obvious entry point should be provided, with a clear, distinct and well-positioned link. The two most common locations for an FAQ link is in the primary navigation or the website footer. These two sections are usually separated from the rest of the web layout, usually by color or white space, making them to stand out. More often than not, visitors check the navigation menu and footer for important links. Therefore, we recommend adding two links to the FAQ page: one in the header and one in the footer.
Crystal Watts is a web publisher and writer for websites24seven.com and the wattspublishinggroup.com - her expertise includes web technology, website design, online business and marketing. Find more web advice and resources @websites24seven.
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