Frequently Asked Questions pages, commonly referred to as FAQ pages, are not uncommon online. They can be a great tool for many reasons, but only if you use them the right way. Here are a few tips for making great, and useful, FAQ pages.
[This post is part of the ongoing Better Websites Series.]
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When To Use An FAQ Page
Most FAQ pages are designed to relieve the requirements of online customer support. Many businesses get the same questions over and over. To answer them all via email can be tedious, and inefficient for the customer and the business.
FAQ pages are a simple, and quick, way to share answers to common questions held by visitors and customers. A good FAQ page should always be helpful to both parties.
1. Use Them As A Last Resort
The first rule of FAQ pages is to avoid them as much as possible. Ironic, right? Sometimes FAQ pages can become a dumping ground for the things that we can't put anywhere else. This leads to many problems. For example, it can prevent the FAQ page from having a focused purpose. If you are just pulling a bunch of random questions, the page will be hard to navigate and understand.
The other reason to avoid FAQ pages is for consistency of information. Usually, with websites we group pages by related content. Sometimes FAQ sections can feel like a grab bag, which might cause a visitor to miss other vital information.
2. Keep Them Well Organized
Organization is key. Many great FAQ pages are useful because their questions are well grouped and categorized. Questions should be broken down into common categories so that visitors can easily find what they are looking for.
As an example, you can see how the web app Notable organizes their FAQ section by question type. Their questions are clear, and well organized for their users.
Similar questions should be grouped together, even if is makes the page longer. If your page is will organized, your visitors won't mind a little scrolling.
3. Make Sure They Are Actually Frequently Asked
Sometimes FAQ pages get used as a place to share those questions that we never get to answer, rather than the ones that everyone wants us to answer. It is important to remember that these are your customers most common questions, not just the things that you want to tell them. Keep your questions on-topic and customer focused.
4. Write Them Using Your Customers Language
Customers and business owners talk differently. You should be writing your page in a way that resonates with your customer, and not yourself. This means you need to use their language and their slang. It may make you cringe, but it will be far more valuable when it comes to search queries and perusing customers.
5. Think and Share Visually
Providing an example image, or screenshot, can be a great way to add more value to your page. Make sure your visual element is applicable and sized reasonably for the page. It is just another way to add some value to your site.
Visual clues, such as these icons at Mint.com, can be a great way to make your page more attractive and usable.
6. Plan For Scanning
Visitors tend to scan the page, rather than reading everything. Making sure your headlines and questions are sized properly can make a big difference in the usability of your page.
Take this Amazon web store as an example. Their questions are bold, dark, and underlined so they are never missed. It is easy to scan this page to find what you need an answers to.
7. Allow Search
If your FAQ page starts to exceed a handful of questions, adding a search option can be a very good idea. This will help your customers and visitors find things quickly and easily. I don't know how many times I have watched a web visitor frantically scan for a search option when the site gets overwhelming. Make it easy on them.
8. Don't Over-Do It
Enough is enough. If you overload your FAQ page with too many questions, you will overwhelm your readers and prevent they from finding value in the page. Be a careful curator of content. Only give them what they want and need.
9. Create Landing pages
A simple way to gain some search engine value from your FAQ section is to create dedicated landing pages for important questions. This can especially be important for long-tail searches, such as when a user searches for an entire question.
If you create individual landing pages for common questions, Google will link your site to relevant Google searches. Now, that's good for everyone!
10. Customer Focus
As always, the key to a great website or FAQ page is to keep it customer focused. Just like your products and services, your website needs to be built around your customers and the problems you solve. If you keep customers in the middle, you will always do just fine.