A well-organized FAQ page can provide essential information in a time-sensitive situation. But how do you build an FAQ page that serves your audience and is easy for you to maintain? See our top six tips.
1. Understand Your Community’s Concerns
Start with research. Reach out to your call center, frontline staff, and infectious disease specialists. Monitor local news outlets. Check social media and local online forums, like your city’s local subreddit. Look at Google Trends, your own internal site search, and other tools that reveal what people are searching for in your area and on your website.
These tools can help you get a handle on the questions, concerns, and potential misinformation in your community — so you can deliver the information people need.
2. Categorize & Organize Your Questions
Make it easy for readers to find information. Group questions by topic and place them under clear and specific subheadings — for example, “Protecting Yourself and Others,” “Local COVID-19 Testing and Care,” and “Hospital and Clinic Policies During COVID-19.” This makes your FAQ page easy to scan and navigate. No one wants to weed through all your content to find the answer to the one question that brought them to your site in the first place.
To keep an FAQ page from growing unwieldy, address the questions of just one target audience. For example, you may have one FAQ page for external audiences, like patients and community members, and another for your employees and physicians. Put employees and physician FAQs in place that makes sense for this audience. In some cases, that might be your intranet. If your intranet isn’t easily accessible for some staff or nonemployed physicians, choose a section of your website dedicated to healthcare professionals. Learn more about internal communication during a healthcare crisis.
As a crisis progresses and the questions you uncover in your research become more specialized to specific situations, you may want to segment your audience even further. For example, consider targeted FAQ pages to address the COVID-19-related questions of pregnant women, cancer patients and their families, people with respiratory conditions, older adults, and other groups. Consider the needs of your audience and the specialty programs, services, and expertise at your organization as you determine your approach.
3. Be Concise and Straightforward
Make questions and answers easy to read and understand by using plain language. Be clear and specific. Use short sentences and paragraphs. Speak directly to the reader. Use the active voice. Choose everyday words. Learn more about creating readable healthcare content.
When writing questions and answers, vary your opening phrases. Eye-tracking studies show that readers tend to look at words toward the beginning of a line when they scan a page. That means if every question starts with “What should I…,” your readers may struggle to find the information they’re looking for.
4. Prioritize Usability, Accessibility, & Inclusivity
During a public health crisis, everyone needs access to reliable, trustworthy health information — especially those who are most at risk. Choose an FAQ format that’s easy for everyone to use.
According to user experience leader Nielson Norman Group, the best format for short and medium FAQ pages is a question list followed by the individual questions and answers.
If you choose to use accordions to condense your content, make sure they comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Same for in-page links, also called jump links.
The subheadings you used to organize your questions also support accessibility for people using screen readers and other assistive devices.
If your service area includes large populations whose preferred language is something other than English, consider translating your FAQ page into the most commonly spoken languages in your community. A professional medical translator gives you more control and confidence in the accuracy and quality of your translated content.
5. Connect to Related Content
Avoid duplicating your content by connecting users to other areas of your website for additional information. For example, if you’re telling patients to use virtual visits for some healthcare services, cross-link to your virtual visits service line page.
During a far-reaching crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak, take advantage of resources from national or international organizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer easy-to-read COVID-19 fact sheets in multiple languages and syndicated public health library content.
6. Update Your FAQs Regularly
Keep your FAQ page relevant and up-to-date as the crisis evolves.
Do continual research on your community’s needs — the questions they have tomorrow or next week may be completely different than the questions they have today.
As news breaks, recommendations are updated, or policies change, revise your FAQ page so your visitors get current information. Consider including a “last updated” or “last reviewed” date on the page to help instill confidence and trust.
Putting it all Together: FAQ Page Examples
Check out these examples of clear, purposeful, well-organized COVID-19 FAQ web pages for a variety of audiences:
- Aetna — What You Need to Know About The Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- CDC – Information for Healthcare Providers: COVID-19 and Pregnant Women
- Children’s Hospital Colorado – FAQs for Healthcare Professionals: What You Need to Know About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Cleveland Clinic – Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Cone Health – Social Distancing FAQ: How It Helps Prevent COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Steps We Can Take to Protect Ourselves
After the Crisis
When the crisis passes, remove the FAQ page from your website. While FAQ pages can be useful in a time-sensitive situation, they aren’t ideal for long-term website content. Instead, work relevant information about ongoing care or new policies into your foundational content.
With these approaches, you’ll create a timely, purposeful FAQ page with factual, unbiased information that can help ease anxiety and stress, reduce call volume, protect your community’s health, and even improve brand trust and loyalty today and going forward.