Monday, December 26, 2005

Writing FAQs for the Web

What do you think of FAQs -- do you look at them? do they answer your questions?

On websites I work on, I encourage people to avoid them at all costs. Instead, it makes sense to take people’s questions and make sure those questions are answered within the text, in the place where it makes the most sense.

In my view, FAQs are a convenient vehicle for the creator, but not necessarily the best delivery method for the visitor to the page. Jacob's guide is a thorough how-to, if you do decide to use them.

Thoughts, anyone?


Kivi Leroux Miller said...

I actually like FAQs as a site user. You never know what page you'll pop into on a site from Google, and rather than search around the site for the page I really need, I often look for the FAQ as the starting point.

As a content provider/web editor, I agree that FAQs can be used as a crutch by lazy writers. I think duplicating the key content is probably the best option -- within the main pages and in a FAQ.

Dave B said...

Most sets of FAQs leave me cursing. They rarely pose or answer the questions that I have, and have them arranged in the most idiosyncratic way. The discipline of developing FAQs and the answers, on the other hand, is of great value to the author or web manager. My suggestion is to use an FAQ process to get a feeling for your audience, then present it on the web or in print in the structure of the writing rather than as a list of FAQs.

I sometimes think that FAQs are the lazy writer's way of avoiding good structure on content.