Finding what you want to know

Frequently Asked Questions pages, we see them on websites all the time, but how do we know what people want to know?

So as a librarian, I wanted to know when we first started using FAQs – and you realise that the format of questions and answers as a means of obtaining information goes back to Plato and his dialogues – and that brings back the nightmare of 1st year University Philosophy lectures a long time ago (better not remembered).

Thomas Aquinas wrote replies to a series of common questions about Christianity in the 13th century. The acronym FAQ turned up on the internet between 1982 and 1985 to save NASA having to answer the same question over and over for users of the ARPANET Space mailing list.

So when it comes to the FAQs page on the Jamboree website, I started to have a look around at other Guide and Scout sites to see the sorts of questions that were included and found a mix. Some sites just had short answers to basic questions whereas other sites had all the information about camp organised in a series of Questions and Answers. The question is, if you provide all the information on the website using a clear menu, should you need FAQs? Or do people prefer to use FAQs to find information because they think it will be quicker?

Lots of marketing and sales sites tell me we can’t live without FAQ pages, but then I found that the UK Government argues that they are more work for readers and leads to duplication. So the conclusion? Some people like them and some people prefer to get their information from the content pages on your site.

So what to include on the FAQ page? We have run a few zoom sessions for leaders here in Victoria as a means of checking that we are on the right track with the program and other aspects of camp and invited our participants to ask questions at the end. It was interesting for me what was asked? Questions I expected including dates/cost/transport but also questions, that to me, you didn’t need to know the answer to 14 months out from camp such as is there a kit list and what items will be for sale in the shop? It just goes to show that different people require different information at different times and that is what we need to provide.

So I will now spend the next week gathering together the questions I have been asked so far, checking to see if the answers are already on the site, considering which to include on the FAQ page and consider how to also circulate the information via other means.

So the question remains … Do you like to wander around a website finding out information about a camp, or do you go straight to the FAQ page for an answer to your specific question? Let me know in the comments as it will help ensure we provide the information you need when you need it.

One thought on “Finding what you want to know

  1. I go straight to the FAQs and if the query isn’t answered there I head to the contacts page and send my query in an email.

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