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Frequently asked questions and help pages tend to go one of two ways – good FAQ pages can provide a helpful resource for customers, providing the answers they are looking for and reducing the burden on customer services teams. On the other hand, poor FAQ pages are often unstructured, information dumps that are difficult to navigate and no help to anyone. Here’s how to avoid the latter and how to write helpful FAQ pages your visitors will love.
What to include
In order for your frequently asked questions page to be a useful resource, it is vital that it contains genuine commonly asked questions from your customers. You have probably come across FAQ pages containing questions that no customer is likely to ask, or, worse, those that are essentially thinly disguised sales pages.
Avoid this by sourcing real questions from customers and collate useful answers by involving staff from all areas of the business. Good sources of frequently asked questions include:
- Social media conversations
- Your sales team
- Your customer services team
- Shop floor/front of house staff
- Search queries on your website
Truly authentic FAQs also don’t ignore negative repeat questions. Use your FAQ page to address any concerns and provide reassurance. For example, Spotify doesn’t shy away from addressing a common confusion about its service – whether or not you can burn Spotify tracks to CD. The answer confirms that you can’t but highlights the benefits of a streaming-only service.
Remember to keep your frequently asked questions completely current. It should be a living document/page and new questions should be added as they become common. Also set a timetable for reviewing your FAQs and removing or updating those that are out of date. If the questions or answers aren’t relevant, then the FAQs won’t be helpful for those looking for information.
Ways to get in touch
People viewing FAQ pages are generally looking for answers, so add clear signposting for getting in touch if they can’t find what they’re looking for. For example, after spending a certain amount of time in their help directory, Argos directs people who can’t find the answer they’re looking for to live chat, and contact details are also prominently displayed.
How to write your FAQs
Answer the question
It sounds obvious, but many FAQ answers are overly wordy and take a long time to actually answer the question. Don’t add unnecessary detail, be succinct and get straight to the answer. Aid accessibility by using commonly understood words and defining any acronyms.
Use the language of your customers
Be mindful when writing FAQs that you use familiar language, not jargon terms you use inside your business. This is where insight from your customer-facing teams will come in useful, as well as any enquiries from people who can’t find what they’re looking for on your website. Some brands, such as Apple, have added a feedback mechanism to their FAQs. At the end of each FAQ is the opportunity to say if the answer was useful, which is a good way of identifying which FAQs are not providing the information expected.
Stay on brand
There’s no reason to resort to a formal tone on your FAQ page if your brand voice is normally friendly and relaxed. Use a consistent tone of voice to the rest of your website or your FAQs will seem disjointed. Social media scheduling tool Buffer demonstrate well how to write FAQ answers while retaining their usual helpful tone.
Don’t duplicate existing content
If information already exists elsewhere on your website, don’t duplicate it, link to it. Only include content that isn’t held elsewhere as duplication can have negative effects for SEO. For example, if you already have a detailed page on returns procedures, simply provide a “Returns instructions here” link on your FAQ page, rather than listing all the information again.
Likewise, don’t go into too much detail on your FAQ pages – if something needs explaining in greater depth, why not create a blog post or separate page, and link to it from your FAQ page?
How to structure your FAQs
Structure for ease of navigation
Always break up your FAQs so that they are easy to navigate. People will be scanning the text for the information they’re looking for, so don’t use a single block of text; instead, use sub-headings to clearly separate out headings and answers. If you have a lot of FAQs, you may want to sort them into tabs or categories, like Zappos.
Make them easy to find
Don’t hide your FAQs – clearly link from your home page and from other pages where people might have a question, for instance, on product pages. Ideally, have a separate URL which links to each FAQ so you can easily direct people to answers from email and social media.
If you have a large knowledge base, ensure answers are easily searchable, like John Lewis, who have added a search facility to their help section.
Five excellent FAQ pages for inspiration
These are five brands that have gone the extra mile to make their FAQ pages excellent – from using video and images to demonstrate the answers, to showing live updates on the most common queries.
Gousto use expandable sections to avoid overwhelming you with information, plus they have added the opportunity to ask your own question at the bottom of the page.
3. Canterbury University
Canterbury University rotates the top frequently asked questions on their page, based on the actual rate at which questions are received.
Graze helpfully shows step-by-step images for completing the most frequently sought-after tasks.
ASOS show live updates at the top of their help pages, as well as prominent links to the most common questions.
In conclusion, the best FAQ pages are the ones that quickly and clearly direct visitors to the specific information they are looking for. They contain real common questions, and are regularly refreshed with the most recent information.