Help Your Client Set Up Killer FAQ

Website visitors use a page of frequently asked questions (FAQ) to convince themselves whether to buy or not. When someone isn’t totally clear on a point before buying, they seek the answer on the FAQ page. You can be a more valuable web developer to your client by helping them have an optimal FAQ page.

Visitors want clear answers to their top concerns, to clarify important things they don’t fully understand and to be made aware of other questions they should know the answers to. FAQ play an important role in converting visitors to buyers, but this page is often neglected. If that’s not motivation enough to master Killer FAQ, consider this: truly helpful FAQ can drastically cut down on extra support request emails and calls.

Traditionally, the web developer will ask the client to ship over their FAQ to be pasted into the FAQ page. In my experience, it’s challenging for the client to create a list of FAQ that really answers the visitors’ questions well. Why? Well, the client is so into their own business, it can be difficult to think from the customer’s perspectives and understand what questions are really important to them. The other common challenge is writing the questions and answers in a non-technical, succinct way that gives understanding and closure to the reader without just raising more questions.

So how do help your clients have a really effective FAQ page? Let’s break down the important ingredients.

Choose the Right Questions and Answers

This is defined by what you know your site visitors need and want to know. They only want what they want. Devise a list and then challenge it by asking actual people from the audience: “What are the top questions you have at this point?” If people never seem to ask Question A, don’t have Question A on the FAQ page. It would just be clutter. Answer the questions people actaully ask.

Keep it Manageable

A big list can be demotivating for the people responsible for writing the answers and for the visitor forced to scan through them to find what they want. Keep it simple to start: five to ten should do it. Keep a Google Doc and jot down secondary or future FAQ to add so you don’t have to reconjure them up later when you’ve established a need for those answers.

Prioritize

Place your questions and answers in the order that the visitors (customers) logically need to understand them. Why tell them a Step 4 answer at the top of the page, when they are on Step 1?

Write Succinct, Non-technical Answers

Most people do not want tons of detail. One to three sentences is usually enough to answer the question clearly. The quicker visitors get an answer to their question, the more comfortable they are with buying. Have further detail that some people may want? Consider writing a blog post on your site with all the detail and link to it from the answer on the FAQ page. It will have the details available for those that want it. This is also great for search engine optimization (Google ranking) purposes.

This is also a perfect place to address common objections people may have about buying. Make sure people are aware of your guarantees and differences that are highly valuable in customers’ eyes.

Organize

If you really must have a ton of questions, you will need to organize them visually and logically to help the visitor find what they need easily. If the page looks like a hassle to find information, the visitor may delay buying or go somewhere else. Sometimes, websites use simple categorized headings to group questions. Other times, websites use tabs which show only the questions from the current category. Use the format that seems right for your visitors. It’s likely that most of your visitors will not read every question and answer – don’t expect them to. Optimize the list for quick scanning. Visually separate the questions and answers with spacing, horizontal rules, bullet points or even thumbnails. Another method is to make the question bolder or darker than the answer. And make sure the font is big enough to read easily.

Name the Page “FAQ”

Most people know what this means and what to expect from it. It’s short and fits in the menu. Enough said.

Welcome New Questions

Visitors are going to have more questions. Making it easy for visitors to ask these questions exudes good customer service. I recommend having a simple contact form along with phone number and email on the FAQ page, or at the very least having an invitation at the bottom of the page to contact you through your contact page (with a link).

Refine Your FAQ

Ultimately, your FAQ are going to help your sales as well as they satisfy visitors’ questions. To maintain and increase your FAQ effectiveness over time, ask for feedback from customers and your sales staff as to what people tend to ask about. Refine your FAQ accordingly.

Call Visitors to Action

When applicable, whether at the end of an answer or the whole page, suggest a next step. For example, if the question is “Do you have a money-back guarantee?”, answer it and suggest that they “Sign up for the 30-day trial” with a link. FAQ should lead towards a goal rather than be a list of random questions. This is something that is often forgotten, bu achieves better results. If a customer’s doubts are removed by your FAQ, make it easy for them to act.

Leverage FAQ for Google Ranking

Often, clients are not sure what to write about to help build up Google Ranking. FAQ are the perfect vehicles for keyword-rich content that can be indexed by search engines. I don’t mean that you should clog up your FAQ page with more text, but I suggest taking the further details and secondary questions and using them as topics for the blog where you can expound on additional information – creating unique, helpful content without racking your brain for new ideas.

I’ll give you an example of how this works. We have a law firm client and on each practice area landing page they have a list of FAQ. Each question links to a detailed page all about that question. People find their site all the time when searching Google for these questions. They are positioned as experts to visitors and to Google. Coming up with new topics is pretty easy because people have tons of questions about those legal situations.

Conclusion

Like anything else, there’s no real magic here, just common sense guidelines that once we become aware of, empower us to be more effective. As a web developer or designer, you have a lot of competition. Most do not provide their clients much value or leadership in this area of setting up optimal content.

I hope that you’ve found this valuable and that your clients see even more value in you versus the other guys by helping them be more successful through something as simple as good FAQ.

What are your experiences with FAQ? Share your views in the comments below.

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  • Stevie D

    The big one for me is … make sure the FAQ looks like *genuinely* asked questions. Too many sites have supposedly-FAQ pages that ask the questions that the site owners want people to ask, and are a thinly-veiled attempt at blatant advertising, while leaving out the real questions that customers are likely to ask completely.

    • http://www.effectwebagency.com Steve Schmidt

      Good point Stevie D

  • http://www.xoogu.com/ Dave

    I am a bit surprised that in your experience clients aren’t very good at creating FAQs. In theory since they are dealing with customer queries they should know what questions are asked the most, and how to answer those questions. I guess it just goes to show that theory doesn’t always work out in practice.

    • http://www.effectwebagency.com Steve Schmidt

      Dave,
      Sometimes it’s difficult for people to know how to communicate things clearly and concisely when they know so much about the subject matter and are on the inside of it. We’ve found that having a great writer with little expertise in the client’s product or service can often form highly effective FAQs. This is because they see the product or service like a customer.

  • http://www.mattearly.com Matt Early

    I get a lot of questions that are very personalised, have you got any suggestions as to how to make the customised seem generic?

    • http://www.effectwebagency.com Steve Schmidt

      Matt,
      I would start out by seeing what is common across their questions and make FAQ for those. That will take care of 80% of the work in answering. There will probably always be some amount of misc. questions for a human to address.

  • Dave

    The best FAQs are ones that don’t exist. They form part of the main content – if its a genuine FAQ. FAQs are just a dumping ground for poor content that doesn’t fit elsewhere, and the IA or content manager is too lazy too be bothered with.

    “Leverage FAQ for Google Ranking” indicates your producing bad content for a search engine not an end user.

    Theres also a big difference between what is an FAQ section and what should really be a knowledge base.

    • Simone

      Absolutely! A FAQ section is usually a lazy attempt at marketing – I don’t think I’ve seen a genuinely useful FAQ page (and if I’ve had to resort to checking a FAQ page, it’s because the rest of the site has not been helpful).

      If the answer to a real question that *is* genuinely asked a lot is not already covered in a logical place within the website itself, there is a problem with the site’s content and/or information architecture. Slapping it an FAQ is not the answer.

    • John

      Actually, I think the key word is FREQUENTLY. With a large site of very well organized content, many users are not logical and still don’t find the answers they need right away. Rather than telling them to look through 50 or 60 + pages of content, a single page that collects the top 20 answers the call center gets is a very efficient and effective way to get users the answers they need – and dramatically reduces the support calls. In a small business site of just a few pages, I would guess the owner doesn’t get FREQUENT calls or emails with questions – hence – a ‘FREQUENTLY asked question’ section is just an attempt at marketing.

      • http://www.effectwebagency.com Steve Schmidt

        John,
        Good point on actually posting the frequently asked questions – not just all questions people have ever had. People are more likely to get value from the FAQ page if they read it – and they will only read it if it looks digestible.

    • http://www.effectwebagency.com Steve Schmidt

      Dave,
      I agree that it’s very important write content that communicates your points well and minimizes questions in the customer’s mind. Even with great content, people are still people. Some people will read it, others will want get a gist and jump to a FAQ page to find clear-cut answers.
      Perhaps the best way to see how effective an FAQ would be is to make a great one and track visitors to it.