The FAQ Page: Does Your School Website REALLY Need One?

The FAQ Page: Does Your School Website REALLY Need One?

When we edit websites, the red pen usually gets a big ol’ workout on FAQ pages.

Often they contain a smattering of information which, instead of being removed or incorporated elsewhere, ended up in a kind of content jambalaya, full of questions nobody has ever really asked and answers no one is really searching for.

Those kinds of FAQ pages are a waste: of time, resources and space in already-crowded website navigation.

This doesn’t mean that FAQ pages should be banished completely, but it does mean that you should be very critical about when you use them.

When editing or creating an FAQ page, let these Do’s and Don’ts be your guide.

DON’T use an FAQ page if you can go without.

DO use an FAQ page if it helps simplify a complex process or offering.

A “Frequently Asked Questions” page is best created if it evolves from a true need, rather than a feeling of obligation. If you are struggling to come up with questions for the page, it’s probably because you don’t need one.

For complex topics, like Admissions or Financial Aid, an FAQ page might be very helpful. To create a comprehensive page, turn to the people who work in those departments to find out the questions they answer most often. Their involvement in the process should mean they receive fewer calls and emails from people asking those questions—a win/win for both your audience and the department.

DON’T let an FAQ page take the place of creating thorough, informative content where it belongs.

DO focus on writing great page content first.

The need for an FAQ page might mean there is a need for stronger content elsewhere on the site.

So, once you’ve determined you need an FAQ page, turn your focus to the site’s main content. How can you expand or refine the copy to better answer the questions you’ve designated as material for an FAQ? By strengthening that content, you might negate the need for an FAQ page after all.

If you find you still need it, think of a Frequently Asked Questions page as a quick guide to information—you want to simply and directly answer a visitor’s question. Keep answers succinct and link to the nitty-gritty details elsewhere on your site when possible. 

DON’T make your FAQ page a collection of every question you’ve ever been asked. DON’T make it a list of all the questions you wish you’d been asked, either.

DO include questions you hear often and create a great user experience.

Every question/answer combo on your FAQ page should be valuable to the reader. Sure, it’s tempting to write in a way that lets you tout all the amazing things about your school, but treating the FAQ page like a marketing brochure won’t be helpful to your audience.

Focus on questions you really do hear often in order to create a clean, uncluttered page that delivers the answers people are searching for. Make the page easy to read by styling content with headers and subheads. If your FAQ content is lengthy, use anchor links that allow people to easily navigate within the page.

By paying careful attention to the development of your FAQs, you can create stronger content and a better user experience — whether you end up with an FAQ page or not.

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