FAQs have been with us for ages. In 1647, Matthew Hopkins wrote The Discovery of Witches as a list of "Certaine Queries answered."
Still, I'm not a fan.
You’re not meant to read the entire collection, so FAQs work best when they're searchable. Why not just write a clear explanation in the first place and make that searchable? Also, a long list of FAQs suggests that your offering is buggy or complicated.
On the other hand, if you can answer “yes” to most of the questions, your FAQ page can convey a positive message. So found Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp. At a tollway booth selling iPass, he spotted a two-page list with a big YES!! at the top. Below it were frequently asked questions, each of which could be cheerfully answered, “Yes!” (Click on photo to enlarge.)
This refreshing approach inspired Fried to create his own YesAQ! page for Basecamp. You may want to consider doing the same.
And yet ... reading through both examples reminds us that FAQs are an inherently inefficient way to inform. You must still search through dozens of random statements to find what you want.
Lively Writing, on Time and on Target
When your message needs to engage and persuade, be sure to approach it from the Write Angle. Udi Shorr writes marketing and sales-training presentations for live audiences, video, print, and the Web. You benefit from years of marketing experience with Fortune 500 clients.