About FAQs and User Experience

I’ve been reading in the past couple of days an excellent little book from 2002 called The Elements of User Experience, written by Jesse James Garrett, President and founder of Adaptive Path.

One of the many things he wrote in there that I found interesting was this:

More often than not, FAQs neglect the “frequently” part of the equation, offering instead answers to whatever questions the content provider could think of to satisfy the FAQ requirement.

So true! It made me consider how many of the FAQs I have on the site that I manage I could do away with, without doing any harm.

For an example of a fine job done with FAQs, see what the folks over at del.icio.us did with their support page. Their top three questions listed at the top, and the rest of the page geared toward fielding people’s questions via a form, and channeling traffic to less frequently asked questions on a different page. Smart! User-centered design at work.

To Tag or Not To Tag

That is the question, isn’t it? Well, maybe not that much of a dilemma, I know. But there sure are those (like myself) who find themselves tagging all photos, videos and blog posts they create, before leaving them floating around, right?

At the other end of the spectrum, there are those for whom the term “tag” means close to nothing. Tags (as metadata) were not here a couple of years ago, and the world was just fine without them, wasn’t it?

So, how useful are tags in the end? As food for thought, Luke Wroblewski, Principal Designer at Yahoo!, shares some interesting insights on the utility of tagging in his blog.

Me? I’ve found tagging to be very useful, since I “discovered” it. In Flickr, del.icio.us and my blog, I tag items to help with the easy retrieval of information, giving items tags that serve as metadata. However, I also tag items for a little less selfless purposes.

In Amazon.com, for instance, I also tag items I plan on reviewing with the word “review“, instead of adding them to my Wish List (most of them I alread have in my hands). Think of it as a server-side means of bookmarking my list of “to review” items.

A similar use could be tagging items you think may be a good birthday present for your spouse or a good Christmas gift for your mom. Pretty useless to the rest of the Amazon users, perhaps, but very useful to those creating the tag.

Do you have any other “special” uses for tagging you’d like to share?

Introducing The Book

I normally don’t post so many videos in one day, but this one was well worth it. Not only is it very funny. It shows how changes in paradigm always present people with challenges… even if they are as simple as the one presented in this skit from somewhere in Scandinavia.