Brian's Blog Homepage
That's a great question

For years when creating web sites we've added a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to our site. Please stop NOW.

You don't need an FAQ

The usual answer is that this is where we put all the questions that people are always asking us and it saves time answering the same questions over and over again. That's why it is called "frequently asked questions" - makes sense doesn't it. NO!

Think about it

Why is everyone asking those questions?

There are several reasons but they all come down to it being your fault.

  • If you had written clearer content then people wouldn't have any questions.
  • If you had structured your content better then people could find the information they needed on their own.
  • If people are frequently asking the question then why isn't the content on your site already.

Does an FAQ even work?

Does your FAQ reduce the number of people asking the question or is it just where you point people to who have asked the same question as others have before?

I am willing to bet its the latter. A place you point site visitors to in order to save YOU from writing the text again.

Think about your site visitors and not yourselves. The objective of your web site is to provide your site visitors with all the information that they need. It is does not exist just to save you time.

Is an FAQ bad?

If you are duplicating content into your FAQ section then yes it can be. (Let's forget about google and duplicate content penalties). When your site visitor searches your site they may get two hits and not one. Which do they select? And if they are directed to the FAQ for the answer then they are now in completely the wrong part of your web site to get the big picture and will end up with even more questions.

Does having a long list of FAQ send a negative message to your site visitors? If people have so many questions can it be any good?

It's not just web sites

Yesterday I sat through a whole day training seminar. In a flawed attempt at getting the attendees to interact anyone who asked a question got a sticker.

That's a great question I always get asked this

Yes the presenter really did say that. For crying out loud - if people are always asking that question don't you think you should be telling people in your presentation and not relying on someone to ask.

It's for them not for you

Your aim in writing content, or giving a presentation, should be to provide the information in a clear, complete and easy to understand format.

The FAQ is just a lazy way for you to say "all the information is there" without actually spending the time to consider if it is in the correct place or the correct format.

If you've had the question before then you are being told that your content sucks. Either you are missing information or you have not written it in a clear format that is easy to understand.

J o o m l a !

Brian Teeman

Brian Teeman

Who is Brian?

As a co-founder of Joomla! and OpenSourceMatters Inc I've never been known to be lacking an opinion or being too afraid to express it.

Despite what some people might think I'm a shy and modest man who doesn't like to blow his own trumpet or boast about achievements.

Where is Brian?