Though for the most part, you might use SharePoint to store documents and other types of files, at some point you will discover that SharePoint is also great for storing your other Intellectual Property, in the shape of a Knowledge Base or FAQ (frequently asked questions). FAQ is a popular addition to any website out there on Internet, as it is a great way to answer basic and most frequently asked questions. SharePoint Intranet is no exception. FAQ Knowledge Base might be a great way to answer basic queries to an HR department (i.e. “How do I request a vacation?”) or an IT Department (“How do I reset my password?”).
So what would be the best way to achieve this in SharePoint? Well, you have a few options to choose from, which one is best – would be your call!
NOTE: Most of the options described in this article are a bit outdated given the fact that SharePoint has been modernized over the last few years. If you are looking for a modern way to create an FAQ list – please check out these step-by-step instructions.
Option 1: Custom List with metadata
The easiest way to get going with a FAQ is to build a custom SharePoint list with custom metadata. For example, Column 1 would be a question. Column 2: Answer. Column 3: Category.
- Column 1: Question
- Column 2: Answer
- Column 3: Category (Benefits, Medical, etc.)
Below is an example of such FAQ module build using regular, Out of the box SharePoint custom list web part.
The beauty of this approach is that you can really customize the list with custom metadata and allow your users to view, group, sort questions/answers/categories any way they like. And oh yeah, because this is a list, users can do a keyword search too and find a particular question/answer that way as well.
Option 2: Discussion Board web part
Another way to build a FAQ is via a Discussion Board web part. This web part is essentially a SharePoint list, but has some nice user interface capabilities, like an ability to list conversations in a forum-style manner. What that means is that your FAQ section can become “social” since individual users might also reply to specific topics and provide their own responses. And of course, since the Discussion Board web part is just a SharePoint list, you can dress it up with custom metadata too!
Option 3: Wiki Site/library
This option utilizes Wiki capabilities of SharePoint and allows you to build the knowledge base/FAQ by inserting content right into the SharePoint pages. I have previously provided detailed instructions on how to create Wikis here. The beauty of this approach is that you can embed text, images, and video into your pages – making FAQ little bit more interactive and fun to use. And just like the previous two options, Wiki is fully searchable!
So these are the three Out of the Box options available to you. Which one you use is up to you. I have used all of them when configuring sites for my clients. Option 1 and Option 3 seem to be most popular though.