E-commerce Link: Smart Questions
Content should be grouped with other content of a similar topic in a place on the site where it is contextually relevant and appropriately labeled. We, as users, prefer to browse for information by topic or task to be completed. So classification of information by content type is rarely the most useable solution. Just as users wouldn't want to navigate with top level links like "tools," "resources," "graphics" or "miscellaneous articles," neither do they want to navigate by "questions."
Who Does Use the FAQ?
Users who do use FAQs tend to be less technically savvy or even slightly intimidated by the Web. They see the Q&A format as friendly and approachable. These users are more comfortable with reaching out to an expert to find an answer than they are spending time clicking around and going it alone. Savvier users generally ignore the FAQ section altogether in favor of browsing a website using the main navigation links or turning to a search tool to find the content they're looking for.
Marketers—and all of those responsible for online content—shouldn't ignore the needs of those who are less comfortable with the Web. However, even the users who do go to an FAQ page are generally skeptical in doing so. With no strong information scent, there is nothing indicating that the information a user is looking for will be included there.
So where does this leave us? Consider the following best practices:
1. Critically assess whether you need an FAQ section of your website before including it by default. Try to work your FAQ content into your main site structure. Group and prioritize this content where it makes the most sense contextually. Classify information by topic and not by content type. After doing this, if you still feel that your users would benefit from an FAQ page, then make sure it acts as support for the content in the main portion of your website. The FAQ should never be a crutch for failing information architecture or content strategy.