Do you have a page for frequently asked questions (FAQ) on your site?
Don't think you need one? Maybe, let's take a look at different formats for building what in the old days was essentially the one (or more) place where your site visitors may find out about questions or issues that had cropped up with others.
- information that follows or is released with major news announcements
- a knowledge repository for the use of a new product
- how to use a site to find what you need, or how to fill a form or a claim (I wish US Airline sites used FAQ, for example. You can find pages and pages of disclaimers, and not one hint of helpful information. They do need UX help badly)
- data points that address a common problem encountered by customers
These are just exemplary and predate the availability of customer contact information in an era when communication was even more mass in nature and Web sites were fairly young. Plus, social networks are now the places where most of us go to find out about something, aren't they?
Yet, that shouldn't mean you do away with the FAQ page. In fact, you can develop a super one that will attract traffic. You now know much more about your site visitors -- where they came from, which search terms they used, what pages they linger on and for how long, and so on.
Thanks to other services that mine social networks in addition to the Web, you have the ability to know how people talk about your business online -- the terms they use, the frequently encountered issues, and so on.
Helpful FAQ pages
Overall, even though there are thousands of pages, the Amazon Web site continues to serve up what I need at any point in time. The company uses FAQ pages to help you understand how they configured things and to trouble shoot. Amazon video on demand FAQ, which is listed also in the help center.
I like the New York Times page that aggregates information about how the publication uses social media. Educating readers is a really good approach to get them to connect and interact with the other social outposts by the NYT. It's a good idea to tell customers how to do something you want to encourage.
The Netflix FAQ page is pretty straight forward, and it includes the form to sign up. Because one thing to remember about your site is that while education is great, you will want to use information to lead to conversions.
A robust product support page will help you sell more as well. Apple has a fairly comprehensive page, and accepts customer feedback on its Website, in case it failed to impress you. The company also addresses idea submission -- so there are no misunderstandings, or claims.
Most important part of FAQ
If you want your information, examples, instructions, and aggregated feedback to be found, the most important part of the FAQ page is the writing. All of the good things you learned about search engine optimization, in addition to solving problems in the content, will help you here.
You should not rely on search for poor site navigation.
However, you can rely on good content to attract search. Constructing a page that provides the answers to the top questions your prospects ask, add information that maps to feedback from visitors -- the people who care enough to let you know what they are looking for or that they do not quite understand something -- is a good start.
Make sure you clearly label subheads to orient readers, and the questions you are answering. Providing links to deep dives or related content in a way that doesn't clutter the page visually is also a good idea.
If your FAQ is product-related, make sure you provide a strong call to action to convert the traffic you have attracted.
Another thought is adding helpful advice and hacks from customers. Maybe you have a customer forum, or a community, where there is great content you can help highlight in your FAQ page. I admit I have not seen too many great executions of this concept. So far, sites seem to not cross over -- a community here, a forum there, maybe the forum is linked to from the Website, and that's it.
I'm thinking social search will have a greater role in how you organize FAQ content on your site. Now, if I can only get the FAQ for tele-transport in lieu of air travel, I will be all set.