5

In doing a new website, our client provided us with a quite long list of FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). As usual in these cases, questions are made up (a totally different question, but a whole important matter by itself).

We told the client to shorten the list because we discussed it and we thought it gave the impression of a very hard to use site (which it isn't). While hesistant, the client accepted our point of view.

However, this subject kept me thinking for the last few days, so my question is: is there any study or research proving any kind of effect of large amounts of questions in FAQ? And if so, is there somekind of rule or magic formula to get the perfect amount of questions?

4
  • 1
    I do tend to feel that a long FAQ is an indication that the product/service/application is not as 'user friendly' or 'intuitive' as it probably should be. And trying to 'mask' this would not be wise as it then creates a distrust or difference in expectation for the user as to its true nature. A long FAQ list should be a driver to improve the user experience, not a way to manage the inadequacy of (imho).
    – Michael Lai
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 6:20
  • 1
    By all means shorten it if there is useless content in there (and of course a better process of creating the FAQ, such as basing it on user testing, is a good idea). But don't remove potentially helpful information just to make the site seem less threatening.
    – user31143
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 8:10
  • @MichaelLai and Dan1111, I agree with both your points, hence my question. I always try to keep in mind these principles, and I have some kind of intuitive approach which basically is: "if they have to search on Google how to use my site/service/product, I'm failing", so I measure the amount of FAQ with this principle and try to weed out the trash, like "Who are we?" or common stuff like that
    – Devin
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 16:08
  • In the mobile space, there are so many 'onboarding' interactions provided at various touch points known to frustrate users that I wonder if FAQs are really of much use these days. It is probably better looking at the bigger picture of a community-driven knowledgebase instead, which you can probably easily convert a FAQ page into.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 22:02

4 Answers 4

8

Do they affect perception? No. In fact, the user will be grateful to see that you care.

Think about it; who comes to your FAQ page? The users who really want to complete something but are not able to do so. And that visitors number would be less compared to those who complete the tasks without any issue - as you are stating that the website is easy to use.

There is no standard number to limit the FAQ questions; they can be as long as 10 full pages. What matters is how you layout them if the count is big. Categorize them under separate groups:

enter image description here

This is a quote from NNGroup site:

large FAQs are chunked by topic and designed to be visually scanned. The goal should be for people to be able to rule out most of the topics quickly, and then just read the parts that have something to do with the question at hand. Good information design in an FAQ can help people both locate what they need and discover other information they may want.

FAQs Still Deliver Great Value

1
  • 1
    Dipak, I was aware of that link, but parts of it looks arguable to say the least, while I totally agree with the others. However, you're making very good points without that article's arguable points :)
    – Devin
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 16:12
1

From my perspective, FAQ doesn't affect perception of site because it is just to give clear information related to service provide by the site.If it is possible to shorten the answer as much as possible then there will be no issue having many FAQs. If site is providing service at large scale then it is better approach to clear the difficulties of the user. The reason is, if user get clear idea than chances to attract more number of users,will be increased.

So having more or less number of FAQs, is not the problem. But you should represent it in such a way so user won't get bored or confused.

Have a nice day !

1

The FAQ purpose, which is to help users efficiently and effectively use your site, should guide your decision how many and what questions to include.

Ommit obvious or trivial questions and include questions that :

  • help users build a correct mental model of your site
  • help them avoid costly mistakes
  • help them perform a task much more quickly
  • prevent customer support calls

Iteration. You should also try to improve the FAQ after the site is launched by using feedback from customer support, website metrics etc.

Design. FAQ is just another element of your design, and all UX principles apply i.e. efficient information architecture etc.

If your site is very complex, one option you may consider is contextual FAQs. The following extract is from this site :

Contextual FAQs are another common example. Placing FAQs within the context of a topic or task is extremely helpful to users in the moment of performing a task. However, users who want to find the information in the FAQ later might have trouble. FAQs need to be available both in context and in a separate, easy-to-bookmark section.

3
  • this is what I do, but I was wondering if there's a limit or formula. For example, if I have a product, let's say an electric shaver, and the FAQ page has 50 questions, all of them needed, wouldn't it mean that my product is horribly designed and counter-intuitive? After all, the only thing it has to do is... shave my beard. A good example is Mac: despite the "oh how easy to use it is" mantra, for Windows users is really difficult, and to learn how to use it... you have to search on Google (!) or use their forums. But well, their FAQ is really limited, so it must be easy, right?
    – Devin
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 16:18
  • Anyways, I get your point and +1 for a great thorough answer
    – Devin
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 16:19
  • You are right, I am not actually answering your question. The first impression is a valid design goal and I do not know how a complex FAQ will affect it. My opinion though is that when the first impression goal comes in conflict with the goal of an efficient FAQ, the second goal must win. Commented May 18, 2016 at 9:23
0

I agree with Dipak, DesignerAnalyst and Jasmin Javia.

However, I don't think any of them have mentioned that you should provide some sort of search functionality, especially because you have a long list of FAQs.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.