By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.
As you plan how to write a FAQ page for your website, the most important element is simplicity.
FAQs – the acronym for Frequently Asked Questions – are a list of questions and corresponding answers that address basic issues about a topic, your product, service, website, or organization. This is an opportunity for you to give your reader a quick synopsis of what you do in a way he can understand easily.
FAQs were birthed out of the need for simplicity with roots in ARPANET, the network that became the basis for the Internet. The ARPANET connected research centers and large affinity groups.
At the time (the 1980s), online storage space was expensive. To compensate, users participating in the NASA Space ARPANET mailing list got into the habit of posting questions to the entire list, rather than accessing the network’s archive. Answering the same questions over and over became time-consuming and repetitive for the NASA mailing list administrators, who began to post frequently asked questions and answers at regular intervals to the list.
Today, you can post answers to frequently asked questions as a standalone page on your website.
Q. Where are FAQs used most often?
A. On websites! An FAQs page is as common as an About page. A good FAQ page allows the reader to get a quick summary of basic information they need to know about the site, the person, or the organization it represents.
Q. Do I have to include a FAQs page on my website?
A. No ... but why wouldn’t you? A FAQs page can be the most reader-centered page on your site. The focus is on answering the reader’s questions. By including this page on your site, you build trust with your readers.
And don’t miss another opportunity afforded by your FAQs page: you can address topics you want readers to know about you by presenting them in the form of questions. Though not a sales page, your FAQs page can be a powerful persuasion tool. As you plan how to write a FAQ page for your site, think carefully about how you want to guide your reader. Formulate your questions and answers accordingly.
Q. Can I use an FAQs page in formats other than on a website?
A. Yes. FAQs are valuable as one-pagers in print materials, reports, proposals, and presentations.
Q. What kinds of questions should I include on my FAQs page?
A. Include two kinds of questions.
Q. What kind of structure should I use as I write questions and answers?
A. Use these simple writing tips as you build your FAQs.
Q. How many questions should I include in my FAQs list?
A. Write 6-10 questions and answers per web page. If you have more questions to answer than that, organize them into two or more topics and write multiple FAQs pages, such as:
Q. Should I use subheads?
A. You can if you choose. Subheads break up the text into smaller bites that make it easy for the reader to navigate the list. If you decide not to use subheads, be sure to cluster topics together.
Q. What pitfalls should I avoid as I plan how to write a FAQs page?
A. Resist the temptation to ramble. Readers want quick, succinct answers to their questions.
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