Your website’s FAQ is worthless. Now that I’ve got your attention, allow me to elaborate. Frequently Asked Questions are the lowest form of web content. They are the sludge at the bottom of your coffee mug, the gunk in your home’s rain gutter, the goo attached to your car after driving through a construction zone. They serve virtually no purpose. So why do they exist, and why do so many people love them?
No Time for That Bunk Today
People are busy. They want to do things fast so they can move onto the next thing. They don’t want to take a lot of time having to read through a lot of website content to find what they’re looking for. So you provide them with a handy “one-stop-shop” area with the answers to all their questions, and call it a day. Everybody’s happy, right? Wrong. If your web content was clearly and succinctly written and displayed in a clear, sensible, easy to navigate fashion, you (and your customers!) would spend little, if any, time on a FAQ section.
Where’s the FAQ Love?
When I pitched this idea to Residential Life Magazine, a colleague argued that all the statistics she’s seen point to FAQs being a good thing. I understand and respect that. I do. However, what the stats are not showing is that these sections are popular because the “answers” are not located anywhere else on the website, or — at the very least — are not easy for the aforementioned busy web user to find. People don’t read online. FAQs are ineffective. So what’s a web writer to do? The answer may be simpler than you’d think.
Give ‘em What They Want
Write “short and sweet” content, clearly marking answers to ‘frequently asked questions.’ Readily offer easily findable information in a few short words and phrases. Get over your literature background, stop writing pages of content, and start embracing bullet points. Bullet points are one of the most effective tools in web content. Let them become your BFF. Lastly, if you absolutely must have a FAQ section, place it on your contact page. Clearly mark all the ‘frequently asked questions’ you know to exist, but also have contact information of people who will actually contact customers to answer inquiries you may not have thought about. Questions are not a bad thing! No customer is a waste of your work time; they are the reason for it.
FAQ, We Hardly Knew Ye
The sooner we can ditch this notion of ‘must-have’ FAQs, the better. Let’s not forget that the ‘information superhighway’ centers around information, not hastily-constructed FAQ pages thrown together solely for the sake of avoiding customer interaction.
by Enid Ahylhienatta | Technology Consultant | Residential Life Magazine