Many websites have a page for FAQs. As someone who advocates giving visitors enough information on your website to allow them to make informed buying decisions without having to get information elsewhere, you might think that I am all for FAQ pages. In fact, my initial response would be that you should be providing visitors with the information on the product description pages, policy pages, shipping pages, etc, so that a FAQ page is totally unnecessary.

That obviously is a perfect world, and website owners seldom provide all the answers on the appropriate pages. So site visitors are accustomed to looking for a FAQ page. This is one way to help your customers get the answers they need to complete the sale. If you are going to use this approach, rather than being an afterthought, a well-designed FAQ section should be a core part of your website and sales process.

The careful approach to building FAQs outlined here has saved companies thousands of dollars, both by cutting the number of calls that must fielded by call centers as well as by rescuing sales that would otherwise have been lost. Developing FAQs is a simple strategy that can pay off big for your company. Studies suggest that there are as many as ten exits for every call.

First, develop the list of questions. Use questions that customers are actually asking you, not ones that you wish they would ask. Next write the answers to these questions. Run these answers by multiple customers to insure that you are answering them to their satisfaction. Now organize your questions. You can either group them by topic, or list them in the order of how often the questions actually get asked. Don’t hesitate to put a question in more then one category if appropriate.

The FAQ list should be easy to scan. Ensure the font is large enough to be read easily even by older eyes. If you hyperlink questions at the top of the page, be sure that your visitor is fully aware of the hyperlink. Another useful way is to simply “reveal” the answer when the visitor clicks on the question.

Now consider importing your carefully worded scripts from your FAQ page into other pages to improve content, answering as many of these questions in the appropriate page locations as possible. If you give your customers the information they need at the appropriate places on your site, you may find that an FAQ page is no longer needed. For example, if you’ve addressed the returns policy with tested scripts in both the policy and the product pages, the frequency of returns questions should drop.

Many visitors will be comforted just seeing a nav link for a FAQ page. In a perfect world, your site’s information architecture should answer all questions as soon as they arise. But until you discover that world, a FAQ page will supplement your information architecture, build customer relations, improve sales, and cut support costs.