Strategic Design for Frequently Asked Questions

How to Design World-Class FAQs as Part of a Knowledge Management System

This report discusses strategies in the context of larger companies, but any organization that attracts a flood of incoming questions can benefit from having a good FAQ on their website. The strategic positioning of UX in product, service, and content improvement can enable smart organizations to use diverse incoming data streams more effectively.

Well-managed FAQs show that the organization is listening and addressing people’s concerns. Providing public customer support is inevitable, but electing to do customer service in public can demonstrate that your organization is transparent, caring, and honest — if you do it with those values in mind. Everyone has customer-service challenges. What you do about them is what counts.

Why Good FAQs Are So Useful Strategically

Well-designed FAQs can:

  • Capture search-engine queries to give your website better search-engine optimization (SEO) and bring your customers directly to you.
  • Save money and prevent excess wear-and-tear on support staff and on customer good will.
  • Form an important part of your continuous improvement engine for products, services, content, and customer support.
  • Provide an annotated index to other key content.
  • Help potential users, buyers, and recommenders decide in your favor. When people read FAQs they often look for more than just an answer. They may be judging your products, services, and company prior to purchasing.
  • Be part of your early response system when urgent problems occur.

Design Guidelines for World-Class FAQs

We reviewed the Frequently Asked Questions at 23 big and small organizations to show how best to present this important content type.

The guidelines in the report address:

  • UX Strategy     
  • Content Strategy
  • Organization    
  • Writing Style    
  • Navigation       
  • Interaction Design
  • Accessibility     
  • Search Engine Optimization 
  • Quality Control 
  • Visual Design and Layout

This 69-page report contains 94 guidelines for good FAQ strategy and design, illustrated with 41 screenshot examples. The guidelines are based on our extensive experience in website strategy and usability testing, along with analysis of these diverse FAQs found in the wild, which were evaluated for both good and poor design elements.

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