Your FAQ exists for one purpose: to stand in for the human who’d be present and available if your website was a brick-and-mortar shop. When done well, it clarifies concepts, dispels confusion, addresses concerns, reduces frustration, and removes your prospects’ obstacles to conversion. Ultimately, it means you’re fielding fewer calls and responding to fewer emails while seeing more sales. But what are the characteristics that make a great FAQ? Here’s what your FAQ should do if you want to see those benefits:
1. It takes the “F” in FAQ seriously.
“F” is the most important letter in that acronym. What it excludes are: 1) The questions you prefer your prospects were asking; 2) The questions you cleverly concoct to create demand for your product; and 3) The questions about your product, service, or business that are most important to you.
So where do you find the inquiries your business most commonly gets? Try these places:
- your email correspondence
- your customer support tickets
- the employees who regularly interact with your prospects and customers
- your social media pages
- the feedback form on your website
- customer surveys
The most valuable questions you can include in your FAQ are already written by your prospects and customers. Use them to your advantage.
2. It answers the questions you’d rather not answer.
“Why is your service so expensive?” “Why’d you stop making my favorite product?” “Why don’t you offer a money-back guarantee?” Insert the question you don’t want to answer about your own business here.
Then, if it’s frequently asked… answer it.
Here’s why: Evading the negative or difficult questions will force prospects to turn to social media… and we don’t have to tell you that’s a goldmine of conjecture, misinformation, and erroneous answers.
Best to avoid that predicament. Instead, find a way to frame those questions in a positive light, and provide answers that are real, honest… maybe even imbued with humor.
Discuss your product’s unique features or describe its careful production process to explain why it costs more than your competitor’s product. Honestly state your geographical, material, or financial limitations—and then remind prospects what your business is capable of. Point toward a future where you hope to be able to offer the things they’re asking for. And so on.
Prospects will see the integrity in your forthrightness; and you’ll gain their trust when they see you’re willing to answer the more delicate questions.
3. It sounds human
This means using the same language your prospects and customers use to answer their questions (which means cutting the jargon). It means writing your FAQ as though it were a conversation taking place in real-time, in which the questions are posed in the first person (“What do I do if…?”) and the answers are written from the perspective of your business (“You should…”). It means considering how you speak to your prospects and customers in real time, and injecting that same personality into your answers. It means avoiding long-windedness.
Essentially, it means writing answers that sound like you.
4. It’s a breeze to navigate
Straightforward, intuitive, seamless navigation means these things:
- Your FAQ is prominently placed on—or linked to from—your homepage, as well as every other page on your website
- The questions are logically categorized (by product, audience type, stage in the buyer’s journey, and so on), so that users know instinctively how to get to the question they have
- The questions couched in each category are displayed from basic to more complex
- You’ve set up your page architecture (jump links, hyperlinks, or accordion interface) so that users don’t have to scroll through every answer to get to the question relevant to them
- You’ve enabled a search feature specific to your FAQs (separate from your site-wide search feature)
5. It goes beyond text-based answers
Video! Screenshots! Charts! Infographics! Site visitors will love you for including these things in your FAQ.
Don’t limit yourself to text: Many of the questions you receive may be better answered through another medium. Where you have to explain a concept, describe a process, or detail instructions, consider users’ states of mind. Would a visual communicate what you want to say better, faster, or with more clarity than a wordy description? If so, go that route. Simply speaking, a multimedia FAQ means great UX.
6. It’s always thinking about conversions
Your prospects know as well as you do that the primary reason your website exists is to convert leads to customers. This goes for your FAQ as well as any other page on your site.
What’s more, prospects are likely only reading your FAQ because they’re somewhere in the consideration stage. So give them the opportunity to take the next step—and remember that the “next step” will depend upon the question they’re asking. If they’ve clicked into a question about one of your products, include links to its product page in your answer. If they’ve clicked into a question about your process or method, offer them a CTA to request a quote. And so on.
The challenge here is to think carefully about where in the journey a user is for each particular question… and then lead them to the logical next step.
7. It invites contacts and feedback
Your FAQ isn’t all-inclusive; and there will be visitors who come to it with questions that it simply doesn’t cover.
Don’t leave those visitors hanging. Display your company’s contact details as conspicuously as possible—and give them as many options has you have (phone number, email, social media handles, maybe even a live chat feature). This way, users can contact you in the moment, while their questions are top-of-mind. And they can choose the method of contact they’re most comfortable with.
What’s more, let visitors tell you how useful your answers are. This may be as simple as asking “Was this answer helpful?” and offering “Yes” and “No” buttons for users to respond—though you might also offer them a form to input verbal feedback. The point is to show your users that you value their time, and that you’re willing to iterate to offer them the most valuable FAQ possible.
8. It’s current
If your business is growing and evolving (and hopefully it is!), then your prospects’ and customers’ concerns are evolving with it. Your FAQ should always reflect the questions being frequently asked in this moment. This may mean removing questions that visitors are suddenly asking less frequently. And it certainly means introducing the new ones they’ve begun to ask.
9. It isn’t (necessarily) “a page”
Surprise! If you’ve been imagining that your “FAQ page” must be a single, dedicated page that answers all your visitors’ questions in one place, we’re giving you permission here to imagine other options.
Remember that visitors will have questions about your business and its offering no matter what page of your website they’re on. So while a single, overarching FAQ page is a great idea, it may do your conversions good to include shorter, page-specific FAQs.
If you run an online shop, your checkout page might include an FAQ that answers questions specific to shipping, refunds, and returns policies. You might maintain separate FAQs for prospects and for current subscribers on separate landing pages. If your business offers diverse services, you might have an FAQ specific to each one. And so on.
The point is to get into users’ heads and imagine the kinds of questions each page on your site will provoke.
Because if you can answer their questions before they lift a finger to click? That’s some exceptional UX.