Ensuring an Effective User Experience on Your FAQ Page

How do you design your FAQ page? Do you just plop down a few commonly asked questions and then offer some customer support answers with a ‘Phew! That’s done’ attitude? Are you aware that there’s much more you could be doing with your FAQ page and that you could actually increase rapport with your users and customers as well as increase your sales with a proper FAQ section?

Ensuring an Effective User Experience on Your FAQ Page

Most websites have a section on Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ. It eliminates the necessity of providing a one to one conversation, such as chat or Skype, to the user and provides them an opportunity for figuring things for themselves and ultimately saves resources and time. However, one needs to improve the user experience in the FAQ section.

Users don’t directly go to the FAQ section and one needs to lead them there. It is a great opportunity for providing accurate, effective information to users and also helps in creating a close relationship between the user and the product or service. Remember that it can be the most visited page after the home page. While preparing answers for the FAQ, don’t just jot down the quickest and the easiest answers. Take some time into turning them into interesting commercials. You should write something that makes the reader continue to read and remain intrigued. Include an action phrase or line that makes the visitor click on the ‘buy’ or ‘more information’ link. It is also important to update the FAQ page as the business progresses. Here’s some inspiration and tools to improve the user experience in the FAQ section of your website.

1. Use of Keywords

Most users don’t read everything on the page and just make a quick scan trying to figure out the main keywords (which is probably what you are doing just now). Hence, headlines and question keywords should be effective and concise. Important keywords, topics and items searched often can be outlined. Keywords are also good for SEO. For instance, if your site sells swimwear in New York, you need to design or frame questions that contain keywords, such as ‘swimwear New York’ or ‘bathing suits New York’ and so on.

2. Relevant Questions

The questions in the FAQ should be relevant to the site. Many websites misuse the FAQ section and instead of putting up relevant questions and answering them, they put questions that they want or, rather, wish the users would ask. This becomes a WAQ (wish them to ask questions) instead of FAQ. Consider the user’s needs first rather than your or the website’s needs, or else it just turns out to be another page of the site. Try providing information of any potential problems that could arise. Real and appropriate questions should be provided. You could compile these questions based on emails and queries from customers and select the common ones. You could also ask for feedback from customers regarding your site and glean information about the common problems.

3. Directing the User

Users don’t generally go on their own to FAQ pages. When creating the website, you need to insert links cleverly predicting where the user might require help. You can use it like a wall while chatting with site attendants. For instance, while chatting, the representatives could direct the user to a specific question featuring in the FAQs or suggest it to them.

4. Use of Clickable Questions

When there are more than ten questions in the FAQ section and when the answers are more than a paragraph each, it would be a good idea to list the questions and not show the answers directly beneath them. Instead make use of clickable questions, so that the user is better able to scan through the questions. All the questions can be listed at the top and the answers can be provided at the bottom with anchor links. Alternatively, JavaScript can be used to hide the answers and when the user clicks on the question, the script will appear. It can also be animated with slider effect.

When pages offer questions and answers endlessly as a list, it becomes very difficult for the user to see whether his specific query has been answered and the page also becomes cluttered.

5. Visibility with Links

The page should be easily visible to users and customers. It should be clearly seen on the Home page and should be linked to areas where you think the customer or user may need assistance. You can also create links on the questions leading to other pages of the site. The question should be related to that particular page and the answers should include a link to the page, so that the traffic to those pages is also increased. This works as an effective SEO tactic as well.

Specific and permanent URLs should be provided, so that the user can return to the exact spot where his question has been asked and has an answer. Many people might be visiting your site to record something or share something with others. Hence, it is necessary to have more than one uniform FAQ URL. You can provide users a URL that can be copied and pasted easily in order to share it with others.

The FAQs should be connected with steps that can usher the user or visitor into a sales connection. For instance, a question could relate to the platforms in which a particular application is available. The answer will list the number of platforms in which it is available. However, here there is an opportunity for linking one or a few of the platforms to a unique URL that can be downloaded by the user.

6. Dividing to Conquer

There is no need to include all the questions you can dream up about the product r service. You can put them in categories and users can click on the category they need to get their answers. Dividing the questions into topics makes it more readable and users can access it easily. In order to prevent confusion, you could make use of short and catchy names for each of the categories.

Questions should be categorized together also for increasing the efficiency and answering questions before the visitor even thinks of a question. Users very often find it very difficult to locate the place where a particular issue has been addressed. By batching questions into a category, such as ‘ Accounts’ or ‘API’ and so on with a big headline, the information can be easily given and understood systematically. The visitor’s efficiency is increased and he gets the confidence that a site having such an effective FAQ section will also provide proper product support and will be equally comprehensive. For instance, sites that have more than 100 questions can make use of category labels and the questions then become really easy to find.

Simply placing a bunch of questions and answers on a page will overwhelm the user and he will just leave it without bothering to find the answer. If they cannot find immediate answers, they will just leave the website. The FAQ pages can be broken into several pages and linked with category links. You can then include words, such as ‘back to the top’ or even a ‘shop for the product’ and add these links below the questions or the answers under each segment.

For instance, if you are making and selling natural soaps, you could categorize the FAQ page in the following way, with questions based on:

  • Natural Soaps: Benefits
  • List of Ingredients Used
  • Uses of the soap, shelf life, storage
  • Skin Type
  • Return Policy
  • Handling and Shipping of Product
  • Special orders
  • Damaged goods/ Lost shipment
  • Privacy Policy
  • Guarantee/Security of shopping cart
  • Procedure for ordering

7. Fast and Clear Solutions

Remember that you need to solve the user problems fast, or else they will just leave the website. Talk only about the main problems and the commonly asked questions. Time is gold, so the customer problems need to be solved ASAP, in a few short steps.

Solutions should be prioritized with clarity rather than excess of precision or detail. The most common problem faced by the creators of FAQ pages is that they would like to provide answers for everything and also do so with every possible detail. They are looking for precision, so that the answer given is perfect and technically unflawed. However, such precise and longwinded answers could also be very boring. If you avoid this, readers will find it easier to read the answers. The answers should be provided in such a way as to be engaging and interesting and also gives them the necessary details or information about the product or service, inducing them to purchase it. Answers should not raise additional questions.

Web Pages with Effective FAQ Sections

Lulu Website

instantShift - FAQ of Lulu Website

The Lulu website FAQ page focuses on content and providing information to users. The design decisions are not given priority or prominence over the content. The design is content focused and avoids flashy and gimmicky layouts. Such design elements only contribute by drawing attention away from the content of the page. Lulu website FAQ page is easy to read with a good type face and has the right contrast. It is also a simple and uncomplicated layout. The page is also organized on the basis of category and sub category, so that visitors can easily find the information. Lulu also lists clickable questions, as there are many questions and the answers can be more than a paragraph. If the answers were shown directly below the questions, the content would not be easy to scan. Anchor links connect the questions with the answers.

Amazon.com

instantShift - FAQ of Amazon.com

The FAQ page offers dual sidebars, which makes it quite attractive. Though some might think that this could create a cluttered effect, the focus is still maintained on the content, which is placed in the center column between the two sidebars. The site also makes it easy to find the FAQ by putting the links in a logical place. Amazon has linked the main help page to the popular topics and FAQ page. Amazon also placed a support contact method shown clearly on the FAQ pages. This makes it easy for visitors to ask some other question not mentioned in the FAQ, as it is easily accessible.

Amazon is able to produce clear answers to the queries without any fluffing and without the use of precise jargon or technicalities. They keep the language simple so that all users can easily understand it. Clarity has taken precedence over preciseness.

Creative Commons

instantShift - FAQ of Creative Commons

The FAQ page makes it really easy for visitors to find information. Creative Commons has a link provided in the top navigation and this leads directly to the FAQ (a shortened version). This page has a link to the complete and expanded version of the FAQ. The FAQ link has been placed in the logical spot in the main navigation.

PayPal

instantShift - FAQ of PayPal

PayPal has a very clean and effective FAQ, as users can very clearly see the questions and also search for any particular problem by means of keywords. Both search functions and FAQ have been combined into a very effective system that user friendly.

HostGator

instantShift - FAQ of HostGator

HostGator does not even offer a specific FAQ page, but just offers a support portal, where they ask users to go through some popular listed articles and find answers to their problems. They provide several articles that offer solutions to the common problems users face and users can click on them and read the articles. Many users can easily find answers to their problems by themselves and HostGator given them a chance to do just this.

Resumator

instantShift - FAQ of Resumator

The website has a link that is very clearly positioned and links clearly to the Frequently Asked Questions. The readability is also excellent, with a good contrast between the text and the background and the letter spacing. The site shows good CSS typography with just the right amount of text decoration.

IMDB

instantShift - FAQ of IMDB

IMDB follows an important aspect of clear presentation of a FAQ page, by putting the most important questions and their answers in a special category. Findability is increased in this way, as the top questions are in a distinct category.

Mint

instantShift - FAQ of Mint

Mint has provided a well created FAQ page with categories that are neatly created and also well named. Moreover, there is also a list of the questions that are viewed most frequently or Most frequently viewed FAQs section.

Conclusion

FAQ pages are very important to websites, but not every site needs them. If you are providing a product or service that is complex, an FAQ can make it easier for the user. There is no particular format for an FAQ section, but you need to remember a few key aspects to make it an effective and useful experience for the visitor. You need to focus on the information, assist visitors and answer relevant questions. They are the most important and useful part of the site, but if you don’t put proper thought into creating them, they could just end up being a black hole of information. You need to consider users’ needs while designing them.

Nowadays, FAQ questions are slowly being given less importance in favor of pages with features, explanations and videos. However, all users have the need of simple and clear questions and answers to get information. It is critical to make this experience pleasant for the user and also connect it into the sales funnel. You can apply the techniques given above to transform the FAQ page into something that draws the visitor’s attention and also transforms into leads. The information given should be one that informs and also helps them to click the ‘buy’ button.

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