Whenever a client expresses a desire for an FAQ page on their website, I can’t help but cringe a little. Typically, this request involves receiving a laundry list of over 30 questions, each accompanied by extensive, text-heavy answers destined for a web page that users are supposed to navigate for “quick” information. Let’s face it, we all know this doesn’t translate into a positive user experience.
The inclusion of an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list on a website is a commonplace feature aimed at swiftly addressing users’ common queries — note the emphasis on “quick.” It usually comprises a compilation of anticipated questions with corresponding answers, all with the goal of improving the overall user experience. However, despite its widespread adoption, there are inherent drawbacks when relying solely on an FAQ list.
Lack of Personalization
One significant drawback of an FAQ list is its limited ability to address specific user needs. The responses provided are often generic and impersonal, failing to account for the unique circumstances or details of individual inquiries. Users seeking tailored solutions may find themselves frustrated by the lack of personalized assistance.
Difficulty in Finding Information
The sheer volume of questions and answers in an FAQ list can be overwhelming. Users may struggle to navigate through the information efficiently, especially if there are long questions and lack of hierarchy organization. Additionally, users might not be aware of the exact question they need to search for, leading to a frustrating experience of not finding the information they seek.
If an FAQ is in use, try bundling related questions into small groups with headings. Content chunking can help a user scan content more easily and hopefully allowing them to find their answer.
Maintaining an up-to-date FAQ list poses a considerable challenge. Changes in products, services, or policies may not be promptly reflected in the FAQ section, leading to a risk of providing users with outdated or inaccurate information. This can erode trust and credibility, as users may base decisions on information that is no longer valid.
Repetition within an FAQ is often the culprit behind outdated information, especially when the same content is already present on the website. Clients may inadvertently overlook existing content, leading to inconsistencies and inaccuracies. To address this, it’s advisable to avoid duplicating information in the FAQ. Instead, opt for “linking” pertinent information to its respective page, maintaining accuracy and coherence while eliminating redundancy.
Avoiding the Catch-All Trap
Frequently, an FAQ can be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution, placing content preferences ahead of user-centric considerations. When a client expresses the desire for an FAQ, it’s essential to challenge this inclination and assess where the content truly belongs on their website. By identifying the most fitting location for their content, the need for an FAQ organically diminishes. The crucial inquiry to pose is, “Why does a user require an FAQ in the first place? Shouldn’t they easily grasp by perusing the website without relying on an FAQ?”
Alternatives to FAQ Lists
To mitigate these drawbacks, companies can explore alternative solutions to improve user experience:
- Live Chat or Chatbot for Real-Time Assistance: Implementing live chat or chatbot features allows users to receive instant, personalized assistance, addressing specific queries in real-time. If you do go this route make sure you fully understand the user experience of the chat and where the information is coming from. A terrible chat experience can quickly yield to negative brand perspectives from users.
- Comprehensive Knowledge Base or Help Center: A well-organized knowledge base offers users a structured repository of information with search, ensuring that details are up-to-date and easily accessible.
- Interactive Forums or Community Platforms: Creating a space for users to engage with each other and company representatives fosters a sense of community. Users can share experiences, seek advice, and receive assistance in a dynamic environment.
While FAQ lists have their merits, it’s crucial to acknowledge their limitations. Lack of personalization, difficulty in finding information, outdated content, and ineffective communication can collectively result in a negative user experience. By exploring design improvements or alternatives such as live chat, comprehensive knowledge bases, and interactive forums, websites can enhance user satisfaction, build trust, and provide more effective support to their audience.