Links are signposts. They are promises to the customer. They must tell customers where they are going and what they will get when they get there.
The essential problem with the Frequently Asked Question is that it is not useful or helpful. In Ireland it is mandatory to pay an annual license for your TV. I've just moved house so I need to find out how this affects my license. I go to the TV licensing website and am presented two choices: General FAQs and Online Service FAQs.
At least I know what FAQ means. However, I have found that many ordinary people have no idea. It's a real IT term and is completely foreign to millions of people.
But there is a much deeper issue here, one that I only realized a couple of months ago. We were testing a task with a bunch of IT professionals and the website was failing miserably. A major point of failure on the website occurred when these professionals arrived at a page and needed to click on a "FAQ" link to progress. Practically nobody did.
When we dug deeper we found that the IT professionals being tested just didn't see the FAQ link as being the right one to click on. It was the first time they had tried to solve this particular task. They didn't know whether it was a frequently, moderately frequently or infrequently asked question. The link "FAQ" is simply not a good signpost.
When I scanned the links General FAQs and Online Service FAQs I had no clue what to click on. And what's more I absolutely hate FAQs to begin with, and I know lots and lots of customers hate them as well. They generally consist of a long list of randomly ordered questions all beginning with useless intros like "How do I." What I needed were links like "Moving House".
The reason why FAQs are so unsuccessful is because they reflect organization-centric language and thinking. The organization knows if a question is frequently asked or not, but how can a customer know?
It's the same with links like "Tools" or "Resources". These are internal ways of classifying things. They do not reflect the way the customer thinks. You don't go to a hotel website and click on Tools in order to find the Book a Room tool. You don't go to an airline website and click on Tools in order to book a flight. You don't go to Amazon and click on Tools when you want to buy a book.
What do you do? If you want to buy a book you click on Books. If you want to buy a laptop you click on Computers & Office and then Laptops & Netbooks. There are tools that support the buying process but they should not be reflected in the architecture. A customer is not looking for a tool. A customer is looking for Desire by Bob Dylan. They want to fly from Dublin to London. They don't think: 'I need to find a tool to help me do this.'
We should never classify based on the content type (FAQs) or the tool. We should instead classify based on the task the customer wishes to complete.