Do You Really Need an F.A.Q.?

Many of us can relate to this partial conversation I had with a client several months ago.

Client: “Oh by the way, I am also going to need a F.A.Q.” (Not real sure if they knew what it meant)

Me: “Why?”

Client“Two reasons. Because when people have questions they can go to it and get their questions answered and secondly, because it will help with search engines.”

Me: “There are many other ways to accomplish this.”

To which the conversation went on for the next 30 minutes discussing the merits of having a F.A.Q.  Let me say that I am not opposed to a F.A.Q. but you need to make sure that you use it in the right way. Let me explain some points.

  1. Most people do not read F.A.Q.
    When it comes to the internet most people what to use your site and not read. Users expect to visually process a web site. They are scanning for answer to their questions by processing images and headings. If you expect your users to click on a page and read through each F.A.Q. then you are mistaken. Putting it a different way, when was the last time you did that.
  2. Rarely do people think that way.
    When was the last time you went to a site and had a question or problem around refund policy and said to yourself, “let me see if there is a F.A.Q. page”. (Probably not recently). People follow logical steps to answer questions and using an F.A.Q. is not natural.
  3. Sometimes it does not take a paragraph to explain something.
    Sometimes there are other ways to help answer a question. You can use a tool tip. You can at an icon next to a page element that might need a little bit more explanation. For example take the refund policy. It might make sense to put a link that says “Can I return an item?” with a tool tip that describes the policy or sends them to the return policy.
  4. Can hurt Google Analysis
    Having a page specifically for F.A.Q. does not inherently let you know what questions are being looked for—just that a question has been asked. By separating the F.A.Q. into logical content will help you understand where to improve.

Again, I am not opposed to a F.A.Q, but use it wisely and your users will have a better experience and stay longer.

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Author Spotlight

David Bauernschmidt

I live in the historical triangle of Virginia where I am married with two daughters. I have spent over 13 years working for a Fortune 500 company in the computer area. I started in VB 6.0 and by the time I ended my employment I was supervising a development team where we built many web applications. When my first daughter was born I wanted to spend more time with her so I left and became a programmer analyst for local government as well as launch my own company. Since then I have grown James River Webs into a profitable web design and application company helping small businesses create a big presence on the internet. As an employee I have created web application used by citizens and other companies. I enjoy fly fishing, and spending time with my family. I also enjoy learning new approaches and development tools when it comes to developing applications.

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