If you’re frequently asked the same questions by friends and family — perhaps you’re a digital photography whiz, and they call you all the time about their photography woes — you might take on Lisa Hoover’s suggestion of creating an FAQ page that you can point people to, so that they can solve those problems at their leisure.
Of course, FAQ pages aren’t just handy in a social sense. Web workers can also gain time and reduce frustration by creating FAQ pages for their colleagues, team members or clients.
For those of us who work remotely, suffer connection outages or are offline periodically (perhaps you’re in a part-time role) or communicate with those in different timezones, publishing a work-related FAQ page on the company wiki or your own web site is worth considering.
I’ve found work-related FAQ pages really helpful. Not only can they reduce the time you spend explaining a process, responsibility or task over and over to team members, they may also help someone who’s filling your shoes (if you’re sick, or on vacation) to complete aspects of your job as simply and quickly as possible.
Who Needs an FAQ Page?
A work-related FAQ page could prove handy for a web worker who:
- finds themselves answering the same questions repeatedly
- works in a different timezone to others who need to know how their work is progressing
- manages an otherwise undocumented process or product independently
- works part-time, job-shares, or is offline or out of reach for given periods of time
Whether you work on- or off-site, for one employer or many clients, you can probably think of a least a few questions you could include on an FAQ page.
What’s an FAQ Page For?
First of all, don’t go thinking that an FAQ page is a means by which you can fob off your colleagues or reduce tedious interactions with clients.
A good FAQ page helps the people you work with as much as it helps you: it’ll provide them with the details they need, whether you’re around or not. It also allows them to digest potentially complex information at their own pace. Finally, it can enable colleagues to ask the right questions of you, reducing the time they need to spend solving a problem or obtaining information.
Though it may sound counter-intuitive, your FAQ page needn’t be restricted to Frequently Asked Questions. The whole point of FAQs is that they allow the questioner to obtain information without your having to be present: they ask the question, you send the link to the FAQ, and they get the answers.
So your FAQ page may also:
- anticipate questions from colleagues
- explain important information that people need to know about how you do your job (including essential process documentation, the details of external contacts you may deal with, and other information as appropriate)
- provide status updates for projects you’re working on
- identify the deadlines you’re working to
- pre-empt your absences from work (including vacations, conferences, etc.)
Obviously, in preparing an FAQ page, you’ll need to consider the audiences who’ll use it, and shape the content accordingly. You don’t want external parties to be able to access information about your processes, or to allow clients to see the details of your work schedules on other projects. So be careful about choosing the information you’ll include, and tailor it to specific groups.
The FAQ page I developed for one of my roles was internally directed at on- and off-site colleagues employed by the company I worked for, which made it fairly easy to work out what content I could and should include. Once you define your FAQ page audience, you should be able to identify which content is appropriate for the page.
How Do You Use It?
Depending on your role, your colleagues (are they internal or external, or clients?), your company culture, and what you’ve included in your FAQ page itself, your FAQ may be useful in a range of situations.
- If it’s a purely role-related FAQ page, you might send the link to people who ask you a question that it answers.
- If the page contains information about your work processes and external contacts, you might send it to relevant colleagues before you go on leave.
- If it’s a detailed account of your working processes, status, FAQs and more, you might include it alongside your listing in your company’s internal staff directory.
- If your page relates to your work as an independent contractor, you might include it in your email signature, your web site’s navigation, or within a restricted client area on your web site.
An FAQ page can help you reduce the frequency with which you provide the same information to different people. It can also help you to remain productive and focused on tasks that actually require your expertise.
Have you ever used a professional FAQ page at work?