Yesterday I found myself writing questions for an FAQ section on a new website. It’s always interesting writing questions for an FAQ section on a site that hasn’t been launched yet. They aren’t so much frequently asked questions, but questions we are expecting to be asked. So, I don’t know, EFAQ? Questions we expect you to ask frequently? QWEYTAF?

FAQ pages are fairly common online. They can be useful tools, but they are often misused. Of course for companies the size of Amazon or Lynda (for example) there is an entire philosophy around how to structure FAQ sections to offer the best support, but for smaller organisations things are a lot simpler. Read on for some tips on how to make a useful and friendly FAQ page.

FAQ sections are a last resort

Don’t rely on an FAQ section to explain a poor design. If your questions are instructing users how to do something on your site think about whether there is any way to make the website more usable so that the instructions aren’t necessary.

If you are answering questions that are answered elsewhere in your content, think about how your content could be better structured so that users can find the info on their own.

Keep it to minimum

Are all of your questions necessary? I see many FAQ sections containing content about the organisation, their services, etc. This information would be better suited in a designated spot that is easy to find, rather than in a bloated FAQ section. Don’t let your FAQ section become a shelter for content that you can’t fit anywhere else.

Again, bigger organisations might have a need for lots of questions, but smaller companies should keep it to a minimum.

Positioning is key

Think about where you position your questions. For bigger organisations maybe a designated FAQ page is necessary, but that isn’t always the case. Small organisations might consider housing their FAQ section on their contact page, as a way to answer questions people usually get in touch with them to ask. You’ll find you can avoid receiving a hundred emails with the same question if you have a simple FAQ section within clicking distance of your contact form.

Accommodate for the skimmers

Much like blog posts (and pretty much any other content) accommodate for people that skim your content. If someone has a specific question in mind then they likely don’t want to scour your other fifty questions to find it. Make sure that your questions are easy to skim, and stand out amongst all of your answers.

If people are looking for an answer then they are likely already a little frustrated, let’s help them find their answer as quickly as possible.