Developer

FAQs: A quick way to explain your business

An easy way to answer questions about your business is to include a space for FAQs on your Web site. Here's why.


Your site may be brilliantly designed, and your product nearly perfect, but if visitors to your Web site can’t find answers to the questions they have about your business or your products, they may not stay there for long.

One of the best solutions for helping visitors understand your business is an area on your site for FAQs—frequently asked questions.

Besides explaining your products, mission, and services, including a space for FAQs on your site:
  • Keeps customers on your site by providing quick access to crucial information about your business.
  • Allows customer service more time for in-depth research and technical support instead of constantly answering general questions.

Hide-and-seek
Once you’ve taken the steps to put together a FAQ section, it’s also important to consider where you place the FAQs on your site.

Many sites contain FAQ sections that are hard to find or identify. Placement and recognition are critical aspects to providing this type of customer service.

Shawn Morton, TechRepublic’s program manager for UI/Design, says FAQs:
  • Must be globally accessible.
  • Should be featured in a prominent and obvious position on the site.
TechRepublic is close to rolling out its own FAQ section as part of a new version of its Web site. Shawn Morton said FAQs—which have never been a part of the site before—should play prominently in the new version with a FAQ option on every TechRepublic page. Stay tuned.
A different way of looking at FAQs
Although keeping your FAQ section simple and easily accessible is in your best interest, don’t be afraid to expand the information your FAQs provide for both your site’s needs as well as the consumer’s.

Microsoft.com, for instance, took a broad approach to including FAQs on its Web site. Instead of having one page entitled “FAQs” for their users, it has extensive site and company information in a section entitled “About Microsoft,” which is included on the top navigational bar and is accessible from almost every page on the site.

“About Microsoft” includes numerous pages of more in-depth information than is usually included in a standard FAQ section.

“We wanted to take a slightly more detailed aspect on [FAQs],” said Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn. “When you have very targeted information, you don’t need a ‘FAQ’ section [per se].”

Can you find the FAQ?
There’s more than one way to make a FAQ section accessible.

TrainingServer.com currently has its FAQ section in its “Support” section. To access it, users must click on “Support” and look for a navigation menu featuring the site’s FAQ.

Kelly Brewer, who works in customer support for TrainingServer, said the site is considering changing its FAQ section to make it more user-friendly. The goal is that whenever a visitor to the site searches for a particular topic or product, the FAQ related to that search will be a part of the search results. The hope is that users will have a better explanation of the material they’re searching for when they find it.

Will FAQs make or break your site?
So does every Web site need a FAQ?

Aventail Corp., an extranet service provider, uses a 10-question FAQ section geared to technical issues like connectivity, the platforms its product runs on, and encryption standards. However, Tracy Shuford, a spokeswoman for Aventail, said that FAQs are only one method of providing this type of information. The same information commonly found in FAQs can be achieved by architecting your site in different ways.

“Your biggest concern is getting your information across as simply as possible,” Shuford said. “This can be done using FAQs, site maps, [and] search tools.

“These tools can be used singularly or combined to make your site as efficient as possible,” she said. “Your information doesn’t necessarily have to be formatted in a FAQ form as long as it is there and the reader knows it.”
How much information do you place in your collection of FAQs? Where do you place it on your Web site? If you don’t have one, tell us why. Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.

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