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Which is more user friendly? Organizing your Help section with popular phrased questions or topics?

Clear topics are easier to scan whereas with popular phrased questions you have a chance to match the exact user thought.

Should we use both? Or a combination of main help topics with each a series of popular questions?

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2 Answers 2

The questions approach adds a lot of extra words

Getting Started
Uploding Pictures
Editing
Save

vs

How do I get started?
How are Pictures Uploaded?
How does Editing work?
How you Save your images

The Questions approach came from the Frequently Asked Questions solution, which is a flawed, sloppy and lazy model in its own right. FAQs should be edited, ordered and indexed and searchable to become a useful taxonomy of a help menu - based on key words and hopefully contextual relevance and certainly as a hierarchy that builds user confidence in the correct order (eg. Open a doucment, to Edit, to Save/Share etc.)

Graphita Help Menu Screenshot

Even a simple indexed framework gives users a headstart on the grab-bag of questions-based FAQs

There is a methodology to developing the information architecture, in terms of the most frequently asked questions, and establishing the right foundation to establish user confidence.This seems a matter for a chapter in a book rather than a simple post, but if anyone would like to continue with Menu Hierarchy we could drill down on that. It is largely based on intent, so its difficult to cover completely, but again, could be helped enormously by context. If someone is in the process of saving or sharing a document - you already know what they are likely having a problem with - start with that and give them the options. Sorting the options is going to involve a degree of trial and error.

I hope this is helpful or inspirational in some way, I try to keep things simple and my approach often seems like common sense... could use the upvote - just getting started. Cheers!

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That depends on what your product / service is and how comprehensive your help section is.

A list of the most common questions is great when there are a few questions that most people will want to know, but is a poor choice for complicated products. Imagine if the Apple used a list of questions and answers on for their help section. It would be almost unusable.

When you have a detailed help section covering many topics, it is generally more usable to have answers in sections. In this case, it is especially helpful to have a good search feature.

In the end you have to decide what is more appropriate given your situation as there is no one better solution for all situations.

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2  
For a QA section you should make sure you use the most common questions asked by your customers and not questions the provider think are relevant. A good place to start is if you have a dedicated support or such. They should be able to list common questions. –  Hoshts Dec 1 '12 at 15:21

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