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We want to put an FAQ onto a new website designed to sell a financial product. The financial product website is not well known. The choices look like this:

Write our own FAQ

  • Pro: User stays on the site
  • Con: Maintenance overhead

Open external FAQ in new window

  • Pro: No maintenance headache
  • Pro: Benefit from 'halo' effect of linking to an external known and trusted site
  • Con: User may become distracted and leave

Have any studies been done on the likelihood of users leaving a process because of links to an external site?

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In general, adults have no commitment to sites that are of unknown value to them. Sites that "play coy" by trying to get additional commitment without offering obvious benefit tend to be abandoned quickly.

For example, someone who's trying to price something is probably going to walk away if the site wants them to mail them for prices because there are other sites that don't demand such a commitment.

Adults develop a set of everyday heuristics that are both cynical and accurate, and serve them pretty well. One of the oftenest-used is "anything they want you to do is for their benefit, not yours". That includes clicking a link.

So best practice is to lay it all out upfront, and trust that if you're offering an actual benefit, the people who want it will respond.

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I do not know any studies about this but I believe that, from the user experience perspective, offering your own FAQ is better. In this way the user will remain within the context of the company information and will not have the doubts that he could have if taken to another place, besides that you will not lose the user to the external distractions.

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