FAQ Template

Editors Note: This FAQ template is one in a series of templates to help readers plan and manage communications and content management activities, resources and deliverables. We welcome ideas and suggestions for other Template Tuesday materials.

Template Tuesday Definition:

The FAQ (Frequently Asked/Answered Questions) delivers content to users/customers that addresses the most common information needs on using the products or services produced by the organization. Most often delivered via a website, the FAQ uses a Question and Answer format designed to be easily findable and quickly consumed.

Purpose:

The FAQ is one of the key elements of  comprehensive user assistance and plays a key role in customer experience management, by addressing the users’ most common concerns before they resort to more expensive support channels such as the help desk.

Relevance:

FAQs can be produced for any product, service, or process that is associated with the customer and their interactions with the organization.  A simple FAQ structure lends itself easily to single product/service support, while a complexFAQ structure can provide assistance to users at any point from pre-purchase to post-purchase support. Complex FAQs group questions and answers into categories, and incorporate a navigation structure to assist in finding the right information.

Content for the FAQ should be produced based on the real needs of users.  Research and collaboration with customer service, technical support, sales, and marketing is key to determining what kind of content will be relevant and useful to customers, which is essential to supporting business objectives for customer satisfaction and engagement.

Using the FAQ Template:

This FAQ template provides guidance on determining the structure and approach to developing, organizing and publishing FAQ content, and includes examples of both simple and complex FAQ structures.

  1. Determine the scope of the FAQ and decide which structure should be used.
  2. Begin collecting questions using metrics from service and support, sales, marketing teams.
  3. Download the FAQs-template and save to a local location.
  4. Determine the navigational hierarchy to be used.
  5. Develop the content and compile it using your content management system.
  6. Test the FAQs
  7. Revise the content as needed.
  8. Produce the final draft, and publish.
  9. Follow organizational policy and guidelines on document retention to manage draft versions, and subsequent revisions.
  10. Obtain feedback, evaluate, and revise the content as applicable.

You may want to download the Documentation Plan template to assist with planning your FAQ in the context of your other content work.

Download: FAQ-template (358 kb – Microsoft Word)

Do you have other templates that work well for the products you are documenting? Are you in an Agile development environment and have tools for creating user assistance that aligns with Sprints? Feel free to contact us and submit your templates. We’ll provide credit to you for assisting the TechWhirl community and contributing to Template Tuesdays.

Rachel Houghton

Rachel has been taking photos as a serious amateur since she got her first camera at the age of 16 - a Canon AE-1 Program. She has a Nikon D100, a Nikon D7000, and is anxiously awaiting the new (as yet unannounced) Nikon D400. She's a technical writer, specializing in software documentation and online help, with more than 14 years of technical communication experience. She is a former Secretary for the Society for Technical Communication (STC), past program chair of the STC Technical Communication Summit, and is actively involved in the STC Willamette Valley community and reviews books for the STC journal, Technical Communication. She enjoys photography and Photoshop. Find Rachel on Twitter @rjhoughton or view her photos on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhoughton.

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Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano is a partner in INKtopia Limited and editor of TechWhirl's Tech Writer Today online magazine. She has been a list member and contributor since the days when 14,400 baud was high speed communications, and Windows 95 was state-of-the-art.

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