Architecture of FAQ on a web portal

by Kuba Zábran   Last Updated October 05, 2016 09:06 AM

I'd like to know what you think about these two solutions. We're working on a big portal, where FAQ is gonna be really important section.

We're arguing about two versions - the difference is in "FAQ Detail" - in one version you can see more questions of specific category right under the category title in left side-menu, in the other one there are links on the bottom of the question.

It is probable that lot of users come through Google right onto the FAQ detail, so it's gonna be first page they see.

Sorry, had to remove the content, hope it'll be enough to catch the idea.

Won't write my preferred version, don't wanna influence you :)

Thanks a lot!

Answers 1

At a glance, both examples produce a really high cognitive load. Users typically go one of two paths when considering the use of a FAQ. Either they have a very common question or a relatively unique question. Forcing a user to scan all questions is a bit overwhelming - and less technically adept users don't utilize the browser search function as much as you'd like.

As Tory called out as well, you also need to factor in scalability. FAQs should be viewed as a living area - constantly growing. You won't know what kinds of questions people will start to ask until they start using it. And as you add more features/functionality those questions will continue to grow.

A new pattern that's been established to handle this is to identify the most common questions and make them easily accessible. All other questions can be handled by a search function, preferably with a combo box that supports type-ahead.

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This allows for the majority of users with common questions to be satisfied immediately without overwhelming them with a lot of choices. It also allows users with unique questions to get what they need as well. Users with unique questions typically have an issue framing their question so the type-ahead combo box helps them with that.

Seth Jacobs
Seth Jacobs
October 05, 2016 13:45 PM

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