E-commerce Link: Smart Questions
There are several standard pages that worm their way into most organizations' websites simply because that's the way it's always been: About Us, News & Press, Advanced Search and FAQs, to name just a few. While I could argue the merits of each of these pages, for the purpose of this column I want to focus on the FAQ alone. My hope is to convince marketers to be discriminating when it comes to the (all-too-frequently included) Frequently Asked Questions page on their companies' websites.
My Beef With the FAQ
We've all been victims of a long, scrolling FAQ page. The worst of these offenders feature a list of text-heavy questions and answers plopped on the page in no immediately apparent order. Each question begins with one of the same handful of question words and phrases: where, what, why and how do I, which render scanning for meaningful keywords nearly impossible. Instead, users have to take the time to read the full page start to finish. A user's question might be first on the list, it might be last, or it might not appear at all. For some reason, it always feels like the longer the list, the less likely I am to find the information I'm looking for.
As for the questions themselves, FAQs tend to be the questions organizations want their users to ask, paired, of course, with the answers they want customers to hear. These FAQs are stuffed to the gills with organization-centric marketing speak. The questions are overly simplistic, topics too narrow and the answers not even close to candid.
My biggest concern with FAQs is that they are generally an indication of a larger content strategy problem. The mere fact that a question is frequently asked points to the reality that a significant number of users are seeking similar information and can't find the information in the place they expect it to appear on the website. Instead of adding this desired content to a laundry list of other FAQs, site owners should focus on making desired content easier to find and understand within the main portion of their websites.