How To Create An Effective FAQ For Your Website

Posted in Tips, Tools, Web Design • Posted on 14 Comments

Frequently Asked Questions is a good section to have in your website. They give users a chance to figure out things by themselves instead of wasting resources (both yours and theirs) with a 1-to-1 conversation (chat, Skype, messenger and so on).

But FAQ’s are a different type of content. Just like search and sitemap, it has its own particularities and things that you can do to improve user experience. You have to keep in mind, for instance, that users don’t go to FAQ pages, you have to lead them there.

Here we’ll see a couple of thoughts about it, good practices, inspiration and tools.

So, let’s rock!

7 check points


1. Keywords

Ok, first thing you need to keep in mind: Users don’t read on the web. They scan the page trying to find main keywords about something that may be important to them (just like 90% of you are doing right now). So use good headlines and questions keywords, avoid clichés and keep them short.

If you can, outline main keywords, like searched terms, or main topics.

2. FAQ or WAQ?

For a long time FAQs have been misused, instead of real and relevant content, companies put questions they “wished” users would ask (WAQ, Wished to be Asked Questions).

It’s very important to put users needs first, just cover topics that are really important to them. Otherwise it’ll be just another page trying to hide the solution from them. Which, by the way, won’t solve the problem at all, leading to future problems, like unnecessary support requests, or lost sales.

3. People don’t go to FAQ pages

People don’t go looking for FAQs. It’s not a common workflow thinking “Hey, I need to know about their refund policy.. Let’s go to FAQ”. Sounds strange, huh?

So you have to interlink it wisely in places where users may need help. Like using them along with search pages. Or using them as a “wall” before chat with real attendants: Ask the user what kind of problem they have, then suggest a few FAQ searched items based on the users keywords.

4. Sometimes you don’t need to lead them to FAQ, just use tooltips instead

FAQ are great to provide complete answers, but if you just want to tell users how features work, or which type of data they should put in a registration form just go with tooltips or something like that.

Oh, and don’t forget to make it easy and mobile friendly, or in other words, don’t use just a simple hovering element or title attribute. You may use a plugin or add it as a plain text right above your field or button.

5. Do you really need an FAQ?

I know I’m saying that it’s important, but it has its place in websites. It’s a good idea for sales websites, services, apps… But if you have a simple blog or simple company website, just create an “about” page and you’ll be fine.

6. SEO

Have you ever thought about it? If you have a single page with good keyword density about your product and link it in several places inside your website, it can be a really good landing page.

So, think carefully about it, it may lead a lot of users to your website.

7. KISS

Again, Keep It Simple, Stupid my friend .You don’t need to clarify every single question that may pop up about your product. You may categorize questions (if you have a huge amount of them), show content just when users need it.

Just keep in mind that landing page idea, you have to talk about the most main topics and solve users problems fast, if not they will just leave website.

Implementation tips


jQuery / Javascript enhancements

Like I said above, you may hide content by default and just show it when a user wants/requires it. You can use, for instance, jQuey Collapsible panels plugin and create dynamically collapsible panels. You can also use jQuery accordion plugins.

Another good thing to do, is add a “Table of contents” with smooth scrolling, so users can reach what they want easily and with a pretty cool effect.

Scrolling like a boss

You may use smooth scrolling scripts or something like LocalScroll so you’ll get a better organized and easier to use FAQ page.

How about reading a tutorial on it?

Well, Matthew Corner wrote a tutorial with smooth scrolling, table of contents and good looking, and you can just download and edit it to better fit your needs.

Doing the right markup

Although many people use simple headings (h2,h3) for questions and paragraphs for answers, I think that it’s much more semantically correct using definition lists for them. So you may use definition title(s) and definition description(s) to wrap them up accordingly.

Another option, really good one actually, is to use the <details> HTML5 element, which gives you those good looking collapsible panels by default (with browsers that support it, of course).

Nice examples out there


Search + FAQ

Paypal uses a really good system where users can see their FAQ or search by keywords, as well.

FAQ preventing unnecessary support

It pretty common to have users asking you really dumb questions. Don’t get me wrong, but sometimes they could easily find the answer themselves, if we gave them a chance.

Doing the easy way

Did you know that we have a tool for FAQ development? Pretty cool, huh? It’s called FAQme, and worth trying!

FAQ, the Social Way

If you’re more of a social company, why not use a tool that integrates questions and people? Well, I’ve seen a couple of (young) companies using FormSpring as a simple way to answer real questions and let them be easily accessed by other clients

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I'm a web designer and entrepreneur from Itajubá (MG), Brasil. I love writing about obscure topics and doing some cool stuff. And also I do some FREE stuff, check it out: http://www.roch.com.br/

14 Comments Best Comments First
  • Asmitha

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 11:00

    7

    Great Post.I have a site but i don’t have FAQ page.This information is helpful for me.

    +1
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 14:58

      4

      Thanks Asmitha, and if you want to implement it, don’t forget to comment with your doubts :)

      []’s

      0
  • Larry James

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 04:50

    3

    I never thought of putting up a frequently asked question for a web design business, but after reading your post I think I will give it a shot. I am going to try that jQuey Collapsible panels plugin. Thanks for the idea.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:03

      9

      Hi Larry,

      It’s so good to hear this! Actually , I’ve done that Collapsible panels plugins myself too.. Don’t forget to check RockingCode also, it’s awesome! :)

      []’s

      +1
  • Ryan

    Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 22:50

    2

    Awesome tips. I really like some of your examples. FAQ sections are tricky but this is good advice.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:05

      5

      Hi Ryan!

      Yeah, they are tricky, indeed. Specially because many people misuse it! But I think you got the point, they can be really good if you give them a try :)

      []’s

      0
  • Simon

    Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 21:17

    1

    Nice tips! There’s a IzzyHelp tool, drag & drop FAQ builder, which is fixed to page, so visitor has FAQ available on any subpage, and can find answers without leaving current subpage.

    Happy New Year! :)

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:08

      6

      Hi Simon,

      Nice link, bookmarked!

      Thanks for letting me know :)

      []’s

      0
  • Lokesh

    Thursday, January 5th, 2012 12:17

    12

    Wonderful tips. Liked It. +1

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Friday, January 6th, 2012 05:17

      14

      Hi Lokesh,

      And don’t forget to tweet it! We’re almost reaching 500 tweets (amazing!)

      []’s

      0
  • Shawn

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 21:39

    11

    I never thought about adding a FAQ to my blog. But like you said if you have a blog it might not need it. I am not sure my blog would need one. Not now at least. Maybe in the future when I expand my content and start doing more. As for now I think the about Cannabis Country page is good enough.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Friday, January 6th, 2012 05:16

      13

      Hey Shawn,

      Yeah, maybe you just don’t need it. But maybe your about page could be in a WAQ format :)

      []’s

      0
  • Vlad

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 13:05

    8

    Details are very true and factual.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:10

      10

      Hi Vlad,

      Thanks! Hope to see you again soon :)

      0
  • Lokesh

    Thursday, January 5th, 2012 12:17

    12

    Wonderful tips. Liked It. +1

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Friday, January 6th, 2012 05:17

      14

      Hi Lokesh,

      And don’t forget to tweet it! We’re almost reaching 500 tweets (amazing!)

      []’s

      0
  • Shawn

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 21:39

    11

    I never thought about adding a FAQ to my blog. But like you said if you have a blog it might not need it. I am not sure my blog would need one. Not now at least. Maybe in the future when I expand my content and start doing more. As for now I think the about Cannabis Country page is good enough.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Friday, January 6th, 2012 05:16

      13

      Hey Shawn,

      Yeah, maybe you just don’t need it. But maybe your about page could be in a WAQ format :)

      []’s

      0
  • Vlad

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 13:05

    8

    Details are very true and factual.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:10

      10

      Hi Vlad,

      Thanks! Hope to see you again soon :)

      0
  • Asmitha

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 11:00

    7

    Great Post.I have a site but i don’t have FAQ page.This information is helpful for me.

    +1
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 14:58

      4

      Thanks Asmitha, and if you want to implement it, don’t forget to comment with your doubts :)

      []’s

      0
  • Larry James

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 04:50

    3

    I never thought of putting up a frequently asked question for a web design business, but after reading your post I think I will give it a shot. I am going to try that jQuey Collapsible panels plugin. Thanks for the idea.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:03

      9

      Hi Larry,

      It’s so good to hear this! Actually , I’ve done that Collapsible panels plugins myself too.. Don’t forget to check RockingCode also, it’s awesome! :)

      []’s

      +1
  • Ryan

    Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 22:50

    2

    Awesome tips. I really like some of your examples. FAQ sections are tricky but this is good advice.

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:05

      5

      Hi Ryan!

      Yeah, they are tricky, indeed. Specially because many people misuse it! But I think you got the point, they can be really good if you give them a try :)

      []’s

      0
  • Simon

    Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 21:17

    1

    Nice tips! There’s a IzzyHelp tool, drag & drop FAQ builder, which is fixed to page, so visitor has FAQ available on any subpage, and can find answers without leaving current subpage.

    Happy New Year! :)

    0
    • Rochester Oliveira

      Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 15:08

      6

      Hi Simon,

      Nice link, bookmarked!

      Thanks for letting me know :)

      []’s

      0

Comments are closed.

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