The end of the FAQ

We’ve all seen websites that list frequently asked questions, or FAQ. Continuing in our series All Things Must End, we’re going to show that FAQ are training wheels from when the web was new and have no place on modern websites that are properly designed.

Training wheel
Image via Wikipedia

While there isn’t really anything inherently evil about a FAQ in and of itself, the problem comes from the fact that website designers actually now build these lists as a primary means of content delivery. They don’t wait until users actually start asking questions and compile a list, they realize a function of the website isn’t clear or explained properly and arrive at the solution of fixing that problem not by fixing the website but by including the solution in the FAQ.

FAQs also present a usability problem. If a user is curious about a specific issue and looks to the FAQ for the answer, he has to do a Jeopardy and actually formulate a question. The odds that his question is listed exactly the way he formulated it are pretty low, so he has spend time looking at each entry comparing it to his question to see if it comes close to matching.

The best way to avoid the throwback to the 1990’s that comes with including a FAQ on your site is to be sure that the website is easy to use and the content is easy to understand. If you anticipate that someone may ask a specific question, redesign the page so that the answer to that expected question is made obvious by the page content.

If you have a page that is designed to be strictly informational, don’t phrase the topics in the form of a question. Rather than the FAQ-style approach of a paragraph titled “How do I bid?” use the less-patronizing and more professional heading “Placing bids”. The content in the paragraph is the same content that would answer the question, but that same content can answer the question of “When can I bid?” and “Where do I bid?”. It’s easier for the user to understand, faster for him to find and doesn’t require that you call the page a FAQ.

Finally, if you build a good website that’s straightforward and easy to understand and you actually do get a bunch of users asking a specific question, don’t put that question in a FAQ. Use that feedback as a reason to reexamine your website pages and fix whatever part isn’t clear that is generating the questions.


By consciously avoiding the FAQ and fixing underlying problems, your website will be more usable, professional and accessible and you’ll have fewer questions asked about your company and processes.

Posted in design, websites | Tagged , |

Auctions on Twitter were bound to happen

twitterauction

A bid being placed for a Twitterauction

We frequently write about Twitter and its many benefits. We frequently visit our sister site at AuctioneerTweet to see what auctioneers are saying on Twitter. Today, however, we noticed something new. Actual items are now being sold on Twitter using the auction method of marketing.

Walt Kolenda, better known as AuctionWally, has conducted several Twitterauctions, as he calls them. “So far they’ve been pretty successful, small items so far. Sold about 75%!” Said Kolenda, “Items that didn’t sell didn’t get bids. I won’t do reserves at these auctions.”

The mechanics are simple. Terms, pictures of the items, as well as very good descriptions, are posted on his site at auctionwally.com. In order to place bids on the items, all that is required is a message sent to his Twitter account before the bidding closes.

Kolenda says he doesn’t see downsides, but just as there is much more to a traditional auction event than simply calling bids, the same is true for Twitter. “…there are definitely certain details you have to take care of,” he says. “You can’t just throw one out there and expect bids.” He’s published an eBook, entitled “How to do Auctions on Twitter“. From the order page:

By the end of this eBook you’ll know exactly how to set up a Twitter auction, how to promote it, the other tools you’ll need to make it profitable, the types of items that will sell, how to invoice and how to accept payment.

You can follow AuctionWally on Twitter at @auctionwally or @twitauctioneer.

We have mixed feelings about the process. While it seems like a new and intriguing method of accepting bids, it seems limited in the amount of items that can be sold per period of time as well as the direct labor involved. What are your thoughts? Does this method sound like something you’re going to try? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in services | Tagged , , , |

2009 NAA Hall of Fame Inductees

Overland Park, Kan.July 18, 2009 – The National Auctioneers Association (NAA) inducted three new members into its Hall of Fame: Marvin E. Alexander, CAI, of Martin, Tenn.; Larry Latham, CAI, of Las Vegas, Nev.; and Stephen D. Lewis of Morehead, Ky. The three inductees were honored at the 60th annual International Auctioneers Conference and Show in Overland Park, Kan. during the President’s Gala.

Marvin E. Alexander, CAI – Martin, Tennessee
Marvin E. Alexander became a professional auctioneer in 1963 when he founded his business, Alexander Auctions & Real Estate Sales in Martin, Tenn. In those days, Martin said he carried around a set of speakers, a calculator, and pads of clerking sheets when he bid-called. Now, the daily operations in the profession have changed drastically, as they rely more heavily on technological agents, but Marvin learned the work necessary to excel at the craft. Today, Marvin commands a mobile office, equipped with office machinery, sound equipment, and wireless clerking and cashiering systems for auction day.

Marvin specializes is in real estate, including industrial and commercial property, farm and development land, acreage tracts, and residential properties. In additional to being an NAA member and past board of director, Marvin is a member of the Tennessee Auctioneers Association, which he served a term as president, and Tennessee and National Realtors Associations. In 1989, Marvin won the International Auctioneer Championship (IAC) competition, and the All-Around World Champion Auctioneer competition in 1997.

Marvin is heavily involved in several community organizations, including the Goodwill Shrine Club, the University of Tennessee Rodeo Booster Club, and various high school, 4-H, and booster clubs.

Larry Latham, CAI – Las Vegas, Nevada
Larry Latham has dedicated his life to the sale of real estate, either by auction or private treaty. Larry began his career as a real estate auctioneer in the early 1980s. In 1984, he graduated from the Certified Auctioneers Institute (CAI) at Indiana University in order to expand his auctioneering prowess. Soon after, he was elected the first treasurer of CAI. In addition to being a leader within the association, Larry was a leader and a voice for the profession in Washington lobbying on behalf of the profession in Congress.

Prior to Larry entering the industry, real estate auctions were generally conducted on-site, which only allowed for one unit to be sold at a time. Realizing that selling real estate piecemeal was inefficient, Larry began gathering large amounts of auction-goers into hotel ballrooms and conducting large scale auctions. He marketed the properties and displayed photographs of the real estate and was able to successfully sell hundreds of properties at a single auction. During the Savings and Loan crises in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Larry was instrumental in selling large amounts of real estate for the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

By the mid-1990s, Larry sold his real estate auction business to Chase Bank and began work as a full-time real estate developer. Larry recently re-entered the auctioneering world in 2008 and created AmeriBid, a real estate auction company whose success includes the disposition of over 150,000 properties.

Larry has four daughters and one grandson.

Stephen Lewis – Morehead, Kentucky
Stephen Lewis was raised in the fast-paced world of auctioneering. His late father, NAA Hall of Famer C. Roger Lewis, established the successful auction company C. Roger Lewis Agency in 1958 in Morehead, Kentucky. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana in 1972, Stephen returned to Morehead to join the family business. The firm specializes in real estate auctions, as well as commercial and estate liquidations.

Stephen has served a term as a president for the Kentucky Auctioneers Association. Since 1985, he has served on the Kentucky Board of Auctioneers Licensing Board. A member of the NAA since 1973, Stephen has served the association as a treasurer and director. Currently, Stephen is a member of five professional organizations and sits on the Board of Trustees for three philanthropic organizations.

Stephen and his wife, Jan, have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Posted in announcements | Tagged , |

2009 IAC results in winner Kevin Borger

Kevin Borger

2009 IAC Men's Champion Kevin Borger, image from omli.com

Overland Park, Kan.July 18, 2009 – From the pulpit to the auction podium, Kansas Auctioneer Kevin Borger commands attention when in front of an audience. On Friday evening at the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and Show in Overland Park, Kan., Kevin gained the attention and respect of auctioneers across the country and earned the coveted title of International Auctioneer Champion. Eighty-eight auctioneers graced the stage in the 21st annual International Auctioneers Championship. Joseph Mast of Millersburg, Ohio was awarded 1st runner-up, followed by Trev Moravec of Lincoln, Nebraska who was awarded 2nd runner-up honors.

An associate pastor and contract auctioneer, Kevin began his career as an auctioneer at an early age. After mowing lawns throughout the summer at the age of 13, Kevin had to choose between buying a dirt bike or attending auction school. He chose wisely and attended Reisch World Wide College of Auctioneering. He would attend a second time at the age of 15. When he isn’t preaching to his congregation at 1st Church of the Nazarene, Kevin can be found auctioning as a contract auctioneer for a range of Kansas auction firms. Kevin is an a Realtor and Auctioneer with Omli and Associates, Inc. of Salina, Kan. Kevin is a board of director with the Kansas Auctioneers Association (KAA) and has been a member of the NAA for over 10 years. A 2000 KAA bid calling champion, this year’s IAC competition was his second run at the title. His first attempt was in 2001 where he was a finalist.

Kevin resides in Hutchinson, Kan. with his wife, Beth, and their three children.

Posted in announcements | Tagged , , , |

Terri Walker wins 2009 IAC Women’s Division Championship

Terri Walker

2009 IAC Women's Division Champion Terri Walker, image from walkerbenefitauctions.com

Overland Park, Kan., July 18, 2009 – The walls of Walker Auctions in Memphis, Tennessee are adorned with three 2nd runner-up and three 1st runner-up IAC Women’s Division trophies. Terri Walker, CAI, BAS, CES earned the centerpiece to her collection by winning the 2009 IAC Women’s Division Championship trophy this evening in Overland Park, Kan. For Terri, this year’s competition was her ninth attempt at the prestigious title and the win was not only humbling, but also rewarding. Camille Booker of Richland, WA and Regina Andrijeski of Curtis, NE joined Terri in the winner’s circle. Camille earned the title of 1st runner-up, followed by Regina who earned 2nd runner-up honors.

“It is rewarding to spend your life doing something you love and its even more rewarding to be awarded for it.” said Terri.

A graduate of MissouriAuctionSchool, Terri is a second generation Auctioneer. Her father, Bob Turnage, started the family business in Hayti, Missouri. Terri and her husband, Lance Walker, own and operate Walker Auctions in Memphis, TN. Their firm specializes in real estate, benefit and estate auctions. An Auctioneer and Realtor, Terri holds the CAI, BAS and CES designation. Terri is currently the 1st Year Advisor for CAI and a BAS instructor. Prior to becoming an Auctioneer, Terri taught for 12 years and holds a bachelors and masters degree in education.

Terri resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband of 32 years, Lance, and their three children.

Posted in announcements | Tagged , |