Do you or any of your clients have a long list of FAQs that need to be posted on the web? If so, do you know of ways to make it interesting enough that people will ACTUALLY use?
We have a long list (18 statements) on our website to "help" people get their questions answered, but they are ineffective since people ask our volunteers these questions all the time.
Our organization provides cakes to critically ill children so there are several requirements that need to be met and several questions that are commonly asked that we would love to communicate online. Here's the current page, FAQs - Icing Smiles, Inc., you can see why people get blurry eyed and fall asleep before getting to the end of the list!
Any suggestions to make this information more user friendly?
As Cindy says an accordion may be a good way to go. Essentially you want to be able to draw focus to the questions first, then have the answers follow from that. An accordion works well for that, or if nothing else if you can make the questions pop out of the page more... I know they are bold now but everything is the same colour. You could style the question text more like a header to make them more visible.
Another approach could be to add a search box at the top of this page to help people quickly find what they want (or for that matter you could have a "search our faq" box at the top of the sidebar for every page).
Beyond the structure of this page itself, you may want to consider if people are being directed to this page from elsewhere on your site. If this is an important page for people to see before they get in touch with you, you likely want to refer people here pretty clearly (e.g. if you have a "contact us" page you could put text somewhere at the top suggesting people check the FAQ before contacting you).
Hope this helps!
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I always like to start off discussing FAQs with my favorite usability article about them:
I distilled my own takeaways from that article and experience into a separate blog post. The overall lessons seem to be that FAQs are great but often implemented poorly. In particular, one of the bigger issues is whether the questions on an FAQ page are "frequently asked"!
Looking at the FAQ page in the original post, I'd guess a lot of those questions are frequently asked (good job!), but it's worth auditing them all to be sure. There also might be some questions that are better answered elsewhere. For instance, I saw one question about the different types of cakes, and wondered if maybe an entire page devoted to "Our Cakes" or "Cake Types" might be a better way to address that need for information.
One thing to carefully consider is whether the different sets of FAQs might be split up. If there's little overlap between people who are bakers and the families requesting/ordering them, you might create two FAQ pages, one for each. However, beware that often times when people try to divide content by "roles" it's nearly impossible to write information that is only of interest to one group and not the other, so in those cases, splitting it up makes less sense.
Finally, I'm not a big fan of accordions (I know that makes me weird!) as they're often implemented in a way that's not accessible to all people (such as people with vision or motor impairments) and Google has said it largely ignores text that's hidden when the page first loads (ironically, that info is hidden in an accordion). In place of those, I prefer the "Table of Contents" setup with jump links. I've never found a great plugin to do that, but Table of Contents Plus is pretty good and what I use on NonprofitWP.org (example of TOC+)
Thank you very much for the feedback! Initially we have decided to go with the simple approach of creating 2 separate FAQ pages for our two groups, bakers and families, and used different type of headings to make the questions a different color than the answers. We know that people have historically viewing the combined FAQ page so it will be interesting to see which group is spending the most time there.
If we don't see any improvements on the number of questions we receive we'll look into the accordion functionality to see if that helps improve usability.
I tend to go with the argument that if you have a FAQ page then your content hasn't done its job! Though I'm also pragmatic - some people will know to look on the FAQ page for frequently asked questions and be willing to scan a list to find an answer.
But I'd take a step back...why are people asking these questions? Is there something about the rest of the website that means they aren't understanding something? Perhaps you need to have the answers to these questions on the pages that people do visit?
I'd also suggest using both analytics and user testing to work out why people aren't visiting the FAQ pages. User testing doesn't need to be onerous, but it can be highly enlightening. Just sit some people you know down in front of your site, give them a scenario or a task (e.g. you want to receive a cake for a lactose intolerant 4-year-old), and get them to narrate what they are doing and thinking as they perform the task. You will find that users do some very odd things and ask some very interesting questions as they go along. Have your notebook ready...you will need it!
Hope that helps!
Thank you for the feedback! We're on the same line of thinking with the FAQs, after we separated our 2 FAQ pages we also revised our application page (just went live today) to include additional information (much of which is in the FAQ page) with the hopes of answering applicants' questions as they fill out the form.
Great suggestion for the user testing as well, thank you!