How to do a good FAQ page on your company website
Company website FAQ pages are the equivalent of that drawer in your kitchen that contains two carrier bags, a ball of string, one AAA battery, children's birthday cake candles, about €2.68 in coins left over from a Spanish beach holiday three years ago, mystery keys, broken biros and loads of other stuff that should either be thrown away or put somewhere else.
To put it another way, a dumping ground for things you can’t be bothered to deal with or that really should be put in their proper place – it’s somewhere to shove stuff. We all have one of these special drawers. The FAQ page of your website should not be like this but, too often, they’re used to shove info that’s left over or that should be on another page of your site. Here are five common problems and how to do a good FAQ page:
1. The FAQ page is too long
We’re all a bit lazy as regards finding information on websites. FAQ pages often have a question followed by an answer – sometimes a long one. So, ten questions followed by ten answers adds up to a long page. Pretty bad for user experience.
If you have to have an FAQ page, don’t put the answer under the question but link questions to the relevant pages in your site. This approach is better for your user because a list of questions linked elsewhere in the site is less of a visual and cerebral assault and also means they will explore other parts of your website which is better for your bounce rate and, ultimately, Google ranking. The longer a visitor stays the more chance is they will become a customer. Another way to convey information quickly and effectively is to use an infographic which is current marketing speak for ‘a diagram’.
2. They’re not actually FAQ
Often, website owners will fill the page with questions that they want to answer and not ones that customers or web visitors have asked. Sometimes, questions can be so bizarre or leftfield that it’s clear that no one has ever asked it, never mind ‘frequently’.
If you’ve made questions up it means you feel they’re important. Therefore, it should be included somewhere else on the site (see above). Make a list of actual questions you are asked on a regular basis and link to a relevant page. If there isn’t a relevant page, and sometimes there isn’t, create a dedicated landing page to answer that question. If it’s a genuine question, asked frequently, then this is also good for search queries in Google, etc.
3. The answers are way too technical
People are coming to your site possibly to avail themselves of your business and expertise. They may well be not au fait with the language and jargon that you use every day with colleagues. If the language is too technical, you have not answered their question.
Simplify the language and create content for your user. Good business relies partly on communication and understanding each other so if a potential customer feels like they don’t understand what you’re on about they’ll go elsewhere.
4. The page is disorganised
Questions are often random and not connected. Your web visitors need to find the information they are looking for and scanning down 15 or 20 questions with answers after each one is going to make the job difficult.
Group related questions together, again, ideally to other pages in your site. If you have a large website create FAQ category headings which may link to another page dedicated to questions about that category. Make it easy for your user to find what they are looking for.
5. There is actually an FAQ page on the site
Funny one this one. Having an FAQ page indicates that there’s stuff left over that can’t be fitted somewhere else. Kitchen drawer? If it’s left over, it can’t be that important. If it is important, why hasn’t it been put somewhere useful?
Plan a website that doesn’t need one. Ensure all genuine FAQ are answered somewhere on the website. A well-designed website should give your visitors all the information they need without resorting to a ‘go-to’ page. Answers to FAQ should be high-profile within the architecture of the website so that they don’t become an FAQ in the first place.
Ideally, there shouldn’t be an FAQ page for the reasons in number 5. FAQ pages generally have an unfocused purpose and if you feel there is a need for one it has to be focused, integrated and feel as though it’s actually part of the site and interconnected with the site’s structure – not an add-on or after-thought.
Finally: FAQ or FAQs? Discuss.
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