Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – developing an effective FAQ section

As you, of course, know, FAQ (Frequently asked questions) are frequently asked questions that are collected and highlighted on a separate page. Thanks to her, the user will be able to find the answer to the question of concern without referring to the forum or support service. A perfect FAQ page helps you get through the site without any third-party support, unfortunately most of the time it doesn t. The success of the FAQ depends on how well the page is designed and what it hosts. In this article, based on the Designing Effective FAQ Pages publication, I want to go over some aspects and basics of a correct, working FAQ section.

Before we jump directly into an effective FAQ, let s look at some of the errors that can be encountered on this issue.

The FAQ should present questions that really concern visitors.

Let s say you ve just launched a new website and are adding a FAQ page there. What for? You, in fact, don t even have visitors, how do you know what questions will be asked most often? You shouldn t come up with questions yourself, the FAQ should be formed on the basis of actual questions, that is, thanks to feedback. Only in this case the section will be really useful for the visitor. Update the FAQ regularly with new questions / answers.

The frequently asked questions section should be named so that it is clear to everyone.

There is a generally accepted designation for the section with frequently asked questions – FAQ (Frequently asked questions). It has been used for a very long time and the majority of users (even on runet) understand what it is about. Therefore, you should not invent something of your own. If you decide to name the section “Q&A” (questions and answers), not every visitor will guess what is behind this mysterious abbreviation.

Make the FAQ section only where you need it.

Some sites do not need the FAQ section, however, for some reason, it is present on them. Often, users themselves find the information they need on the site without any additional prompts. Do not worry about this – it means that the project structure is very well developed. Conversely, if you can get the same information on many pages, then most likely the site architecture is not well thought out. Don t make an FAQ section just for the sake of having it.

We develop an effective FAQ section

With the errors sorted out, let s move on to creating a page for the most popular questions. A good FAQ page can greatly ease the burden on a site s support team, so it needs to be given proper attention.

Say no to the FAQ section

To summarize the mistakes discussed above, learn how to get rid of unnecessary “unnecessary” design elements and the website as a whole. The FAQ section should complement the main content of the site, and not duplicate it, if there is no help from this page – just remove it. To understand how much the frequently asked question is in demand, you need to listen to site visitors, view a support ticket, add a question form, etc.

Collect questions

You don t have to wait for questions to come in. If you have a new site, you can (as an option) arrange a survey of visitors / customers and identify a range of issues that require additional clarification. To do this, you can, for example, publish a call in the section, like “Did not find an answer to the question, please contact us” or make a special announced period during which users could ask questions by phone or email. The “collecting questions” method is very effective because the users themselves participate in the development of the FAQ page.

Place links to the FAQ in the site structure where the user is used to seeing them

The FAQ section has the usual “entry points” – in the main navigation menu, or separately – in the upper right corner of the site or in the “basement” (you can combine several placement options). The link must be noticeable and (as we have already found out) be named correctly. Sometimes a link to a FAQ page can be specially highlighted with a font or a corresponding icon.

link to FAQ

link to FAQ

Show your maximum knowledge of site usability and do not force the visitor to search for this section.

FAQ should be legible

The questions / answers section is mostly text, and the text, in turn, should be designed so that it is convenient to read. Or at least. you should immediately distinguish between questions and answers so that you do not read the texts again. To do this, different typographic techniques are used, for example, text can be highlighted by contrasting font colors or indents:

faq section

faq section

Group related questions / answers into categories

Thus, you will greatly facilitate the process of searching and navigating through the section for the visitor if there are a lot of questions. You name the categories of frequently asked questions simply and clearly so as not to create additional confusion (you can use thematically icons for FAQ sections):

Frequently asked Questions

frequently asked Questions

By the way, in addition, you can also highlight the section with the most popular questions / answers (meaning “the most frequently asked, popular in the FAQ itself”).

Add FAQ search

If your FAQ section is large enough with several categories and large pages, you absolutely must be searchable. Do not forget only that the scope of this search should be limited to the FAQ and differ from the global search box, which will search all pages of the project. It is clear that such a local FAQ search will be located only in the frequently asked questions section.

Use images where appropriate

Sometimes one picture can tell more than 1000 words, so where it makes more sense to use images, use! As an example: this is how the “The Bank of Washington” website (using a print screen of the corresponding page) gives advice on password recovery. Apparently a question, an answer and a hint picture, which explains everything very clearly.

Do not turn the FAQ into an endless “sheet”

Do not force the user to scroll through the FAQ page indefinitely in search of a question / answer. Create a convenient structure and facilities for using the section. For these purposes, you can: split the FAQ into pages, group categories, add a “reveal and hide the answer” script and a link at the top of the page to the list of all questions.

Frequently asked Questions

FAQ page

Basically, there are different options for designing frequently asked questions. The main thing is that the FAQ section should be convenient! Remember that the user comes here to find answers to their questions, so the design and structure of the page should be as helpful as possible.

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