What the FAQ?! - Collecting Frequently Asked Questions With Confluence (Including Four Pro Tips)

Are you receiving the same questions over and over again? If so, it’s time to give your users and customers what they need – a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

In this blog post, you’ll find some tips and examples that will help you create and manage your very own FAQ collection in Confluence.

Confluence for Knowledge Management and FAQs

A customer recently asked me the best way to build an FAQ page in Atlassian Confluence. Was there a standard method they could use? Confluence ships with a troubleshooting and how-to article blueprint that allows users to easily capture useful information and create a knowledge base. What it doesn’t include, though, is an FAQ page blueprint or template.

FAQ collections provide users with answers to common issues. And Confluence is a central source of corporate knowledge, so it’s the first place users will turn to when looking for help. Readers expect to find at-a-glance solutions – short, to-the-point and free of sales jargon. Let’s find out how to build an FAQ collection that gives them exactly what they want.

Pro Tip #1

Before we start, here’s an important piece of advice: You should place a reasonable limit on the number of questions (and answers) in your FAQs. Remember that 'FAQ' stands for ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ – not ‘Almost any question in the universe that could possibly be asked’.

Getting Started With A Single FAQ Page

The easiest way to create an FAQ collection is to put all your questions and answers on a single page. This works particularly well if all the questions relate to the same topic – such as purchasing and licensing – and the answers are relatively short and simple.

To keep the page clutter-free, I recommend making your answers collapsible. Our free Expando add-on is a useful macro that allows you to expand page sections with a single click. Alternatively, you could use the simple Expand macro instead.

If your FAQ has too many questions to fit on a standard screen, I suggest including a table of contents above the list.

Pro Tip #2

Add a note that invites readers to suggest their own questions – which an editor can add to the FAQs at a later date. Confluence is a collaboration platform – so if your user base is highly proficient at authoring in Confluence, you could encourage them to edit the page themselves and add their own FAQ entries.

Each FAQ Entry on a Separate Page

You’ll need multiple question categories for more complex topics – such as when differentiating between products, business scopes, or other subjects. In addition, you’ll need a consistent content structure for more detailed answers.

For these subjects, it’s better to create an overview page that lists the FAQ sets at a glance, and a separate Confluence page for each question. By using a custom page template, you can ensure that the pages follow a standardized structure:

  • The page title containing the question.
  • A rich-text area where authors can enter more detailed text, e.g. information, examples, and additional descriptions.
  • The answer, which may contain rich-text formatting, images, tables, etc.
  • Related pages, using the Content by Label macro.
  • A label 'FAQ', accompanied by a label that corresponds to the question category, e.g. 'product_a".

Providing An FAQ Overview Page

You’ll need to create an overview page that consolidates all of your question/answer pages. It is good practice to use a three-column layout, and to group child pages of a specific type using the Content by Label macro that lists all pages within a category (that also have the ‘FAQ’ label).

Alternatively, you could use the Children Display macro to display the hierarchy of subpages at a glance.

Recently Updated macro will help frequent visitors quickly access the latest changes in your FAQ collection.

Pro Tip #3

Give your readers an alternative way to find answers by providing a search function, e.g. by using Confluence's Livesearch macro. Search results can be limited to pages with a specific label, e.g. 'FAQ'.

Advanced FAQ Structure Using Page Properties

You may have noticed that the Confluence editor screenshot above contains a table in the question template’s sidebar. This table is surrounded by a Page Properties macro that lets you define tabular metadata for Confluence pages. 

If you have multiple criteria for your FAQ pages, it may be worth adding the corresponding Page Properties Report macro to your FAQ overview. In this example, you could use the macro to display the validity period of the information provided, or to differentiate between target audiences.

Pro Tip #4

The Page Properties Report macro also enables you to display only certain columns in the report table. So if some page properties aren’t relevant to the overview page, you can use the macro’s ‘Columns to show’ parameter to specify the properties to be displayed (the page title will always be shown).

Managing User-Generated Q&A Content With Confluence Questions

Another even more collaborative approach is to move from FAQs to Q&As, by crowd-sourcing both questions and answers. That's the main purpose of Confluence Questions for Confluence. This add-on, provided by Atlassian, lets Confluence users ask questions, while their colleagues and fellow users provide the answers. In addition, users can rate responses – so the best answers rise to the top of the page.

If you want to consolidate knowledge from across your entire organization and create a Q&A expert community, Confluence Questions is the perfect choice.

Anything Else?

Now you’ve got all the information you need to create FAQs in Confluence. But why stop there?

  • Create FAQ page templates that already have the corresponding labels and/or page properties.
  • You could develop a Confluence page blueprint that automates FAQ page creation, and provides a step-by-step configuration wizard.
  • Integrate user ratings that show you just how helpful your users find the FAQ pages.
  • You could also opt for the commercial FAQ blueprint available on the Atlassian Marketplace.
  • Publish your FAQ collection to PDF, Word or other deliverables, so everyone can access it in the format they require.

Providing an FAQ section in Confluence makes this collaboration platform even more attractive to your user base. Readers and writers alike will find the platform more powerful and even more useful.

How's your FAQ collection in Confluence looking now? Do you need any help to expand it, or to create a Confluence page blueprint that perfectly matches your use case?

Please let us know in the comments section, or email us at info@k15t.com.

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