Friday, March 02, 2007

How to write good FAQs

Writing usable FAQs ...

"FAQs don’t have that great a reputation, but recently, I’ve been working on FAQs for a client. Their computer help desk was annoyed about answering the same things again and again. Why not divert potential callers to a FAQ instead?

Sounded reasonable, so we did the usual: created a prototype, ran some usability tests, did the necessary pile of changes and launched the revised version, rather quietly. And bingo: a modest success. Calls to the help desk are down 10% and users are rating the FAQ answers highly, on the whole.

So what distinguishes a good set of FAQs from a dreadful set?

I’ve seen many sites where they fall into the trap of providing a set of easily answered questions (EAQ) rather than frequently asked questions (FAQ). For example, The Undevelopment Blog has a typical one at “Q: How can I use Glorbosoft XYZ to maximize team productivity?”.

No-one asks that type of question. You have to do the hard work: find out what questions really are frequently asked. And by your customers – not by insiders.

Try all of these:
- listening to calls to your help desk
- reviewing search logs to see what people are searching for
- reading emails

You don’t have to look back very far. If the question is genuinely frequent, it will come up at least once a day. But I think it’s worth reviewing a month’s worth of data just to be sure you’ve covered things that only happen at specific times e.g. at month end."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Usability Resources]


Anonymous David Airey said...

Useful tips. I agree that too many people change the section to 'EAQ' (easily answered questions) instead of 'FAQ'.

Nice tips.

8:18 AM  

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