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I'm currently working on a redesign of our company support page. The focus is to move towards a search orientated experience, but there's been some debate about which elements to keep there and which to remove.

Essentially we've got:

  • Search bar
  • Common topics
  • Link to Knowledge base
  • Link to Contact form
  • Community Q&A

There's been some debate as to whether we should leave the Q&A there, or remove it to reduce clutter.

Are simpler pages proven to be more effective? Can search bars be more effective than providing suggestions?

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2 Answers 2

A search bar on a support page is great when one of the results answers your question. When it doesn't is when the others matter most.

Each of the links serve a specific purpose, so getting rid of one or more of them has to be based on the need for and added value given by their purposes.

To do this, you should have data as to which links are visited from your support page more often. If not, that is the first step to the redesign. I, or anyone else here, can tell you what we think isn't important, but that will be given our experience and may not apply to your situation. Likewise, any debate between colleagues based on personal opinion isn't going to be very helpful.

Get the data.
Make informed designs.
Test the designs.
Improve the designs.

That's the only real way that you're going to get an answer to your situation.

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In theory, you should provide enough information for the user find the answer to her question, and no more. Inadequate support pages drive down customer loyalty (more details here), but complex pages encourage users to give up before finding an answer (more details here).

In practice, it’s very hard to make a support page both simple and comprehensive. Let me suggest an alternative: context-sensitive Help. The idea is to integrate Help into your application such that when a user clicks the Help link she’ll be shown only the topics relevant to what she is currently doing. This will dramatically reduce the amount of information she has to sift through, and increase the probability of her finding an answer to her question.

Here’s an example:

Topics shown when on the Login page: Help menu shows links to login topics

Topics shown when on the Settings page: Help menu shows links to settings topics

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