As the name suggest, WordPress FAQ-Tastic Plugin is designed to help you create FAQ pages.
FAQ Tastic default layout
FAQ are a troublesome and needed much needed section of almost any business website so Word FAQ-Tastic qualifies for our business rating, i.e. this is a plugin you should pay for if you use it on a successful business site.
The WordPress plugin FAQ competition is called Ask Me (broken link – http://www.morningcaffeine.com/about/#ask). Ask Me is a catchier name. It is also a simpler plugin and not quite ready for business use. However the base styles are a lot friendlier. I have the sneaky feeling that Ask Me would not be robust enough for business use. Check out the instructions/requirements (broken link – http://www.morningcaffeine.com/2007/01/01/wordpress-ask-me-10-alpha-plugin-released/):
- Install Exec-PHP
- Disable the WYSIWYG rich editor within the user options (at the bottom of the page)
- Disable “WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically”
- Make sure your permalink structure is name based rather than using the post id.
None of that sounds too good to me as baseline requirements. There’s no way I am going to limit myself and my site in so many ways just to get a single plugin running. Nonetheless once in action, Ask Me is extremely simple and friendly.
ilovecode Ask Me plugin in action
Unlike Ask Me, FAQ-Tastic benefits from a very simple install. Just upload and go. On the other hand, once inside there are lots of options. Perhaps too many.
You can create FAQ categories in which for each question there is a separate subpage.
FAQ Tastic layout sample
You can create FAQ categories which all go on the same page. Info is pulled in via a couple of very simple and elegant smart tags:
[faq list name]
[faq ask name]
On the other hand, the whole atmosphere seems conceived for the corporation or for a very long FAQ. What’s with the categories and separate pages?
Was the creator expecting NASA or the World Bank to run their intranet policy manual FAQ to be powered by his plugin?
Having to start using a FAQ by creating a set of categories is a bit much. FAQ-Tastic should come set up with a simple default category.
People ask the FAQ and one answers them. A FAQ should grow organically. Categories are for later.
Which brings up another issue with categories.
Visitors must ask their question in a particular category. There is also no way to move a question from one category to another. Which means one must use multiple Ask Me forms on a single page if one wants to allow visitors to ask questions in more than one category.
Personally, I find this all very limiting and too rigid. Rather than feedback to the owner I’ve listed the problems here:
- I’d like to have a single question box on the page.
- I’d like to be able to assign the incoming questions to categories myself.
- Later I’d like to be able to move questions from one category to another myself.
- I’d like to add new categories later and move questions from multiple existing categories there.
- I’d like to be an option to show a list of questions at the top of the page with automated links to the question with answer lower down on the page via anchor.
- The default layout makes each question and answer an ordered list item. The base install should include copy and paste CSS with instructions to get rid of the numbers with perhaps some options for more attractive presentation.
FAQ Tastic ordered lists
- The ratings system is dead ugly right now. Hopefully a graphic designer will intervene to improve the default look. Or they should just scrap the feature.
faq tastic ratings
I do hope the author of the plugin will find a way to remedy these FAQ administrative issues. For now I am going to tone down FAQ-Tastic into a simple Ask Me plugin. How? My FAQ-Tastic will include only a single category and a single question box.
Fortunately the end user is easily able to change order of questions in FAQ-Tastic with drag and drop. Toned down, FAQ-Tastic will do a great job. I just hope my client’s executive assistant can figure out the backend interface.
Frankly I’d like to see some of the question group creation interface pulled out of the Editor privileges, to make it easier for an editor just to focus on the task at hand – editing and adding questions. On the other hand, allowing that executive assistant – editor level user access to the email templates is a smart move, as she would be the one who would like to tinker with the wording there.
There’s a few bugs in the current release.
- If you put multiple question tags on the same page and submit a question all of the questions show the AJAX thank you note.
- When you refresh the page all of the green boxes notification boxes stay there as well (Camino, OS X).
wonky Ajax FAQ
- When you create a page with FAQ tags already pre-installed, I got a very unpleasant MySQL error across the top of the web page. My page was created but the MySQL error is stressful.
MySQL errors FAQ Tastic
That same pre-made page also comes with an incorrect title tag (it asks for page name which makes me think of URLs for some reason). What the pair should be called in the admin panel is Page Title and not Page Name.
But for what we paid for it, FAQ-Tastic is a bargain. I would set a donation price on it of $5/site in its current state. With the changes outlined above – moving questions around from category to category and a less intimidating interface – FAQ-Tastic could carry a suggested donation of $20/site for commercial sites.
Version reviewed: 0.9.3
Other FAQ-Tastic Reviews/Info:
Thanks for the review of FAQ-Tastic and my so many questions/issues raised! Unfortunately, I’ve not had a chanced to fully analyze the revie yet. I’ve just come back from holiday in Malaysia where I didn’t have an internet connection – still a little jet lagged and have a ton of email to respond to!
Just to let you know that we’re now on FAQ-Tastic version 1.0.4 and the Knowledge Constructs site needs some major updating. I have sent you the updated version via email. Hope you enjoy it and it irons out the bugs that you identified – we’re still semi beta testing it so if you spot anything else, please do let me know!
Yes, the plugin is a bit of a beast for creating FAQs but there’s actually good reason for this. I’m sure as an Internet Marketer you’ll appreciate some of the finer points – these will all be made clear (hopefully soon) as I’m in the process of writing an eBook on the need for good FAQs for sites. The current free version is okay for most average users websites. John and I have been working on a new paid version called… er FAQ-Tastic Pro (yes, unoriginal but it gets to the point!) and I’m sure you’d like some of the features we’ve built into this. Some of the questions/issues you raised in your article have been addressed and will make FAQ-Tastic Pro ideal for using on corporate sites.
To answer one of your questions – creating multiple pages helps the Internet Marketer to easily create very specific answers on pages. This is a perfect fit for search engines as users typically have a problem that require an answer. Creating a Page per question there helps provide 1) a specific answer and 2) extra content for a site. By generating several pages and then using a good internal linking structure (silo) it’s possible to leverage the PR juice and help a site’s prominence in overall SERPs. The new Pro version actually has a “related question” feature that helps to link Question Groups together as well as “nofollow” link attribute controls.
Does that make any sense? If not, don’t worry – as I say, it’ll all be revealed in my new eBook!
Malaysia sounds great! I’m in the middle of continental winter here with no respite.
I’m glad my end user evaluation was useful to you. It took a bit of time to write up and document.
What are the extra features in FAQ-Tastic Pro?
I’m not sure I see the needs of Internet Marketers as different anymore than those of somebody else trying to build a good site. There’s no reason to browbeat or harass anybody unless you are trying to steal rather than earn his or her money. But that’s a meta question.
As someone who helps his clients with internet marketing every day, I’d be delighted to have a chance to take a look at your book.
Zain, would you have a link for Foliovision readers to be able to download the latest version (1.0.4) of FAQ-Tastic?
Sometimes John (and other developers) change database structure so it would be best to get everybody started on the latest version.
We are having issues ourselves releasing Foliovision WYSIWYG right now as we are changing paths for the image component. I don’t want anybody to start using Foliopress WYSIWYG and then have to manually start moving images around.
Hello again Zain,
I’ve installed FAQ-Tastic 1.0.4.
Could you let me know what the major changes are? My brand new Toronto real estate FAQ looks the same. Are the changes mainly bug fixes?
I did notice the “Sad Kittens” donation window and donated. I think you should consider making the amount of the donation at the discretion of the user and/or notify the user of the price before he clicks through and logs into Paypal. As a donation, one should have choices. It feels a bit forced.
But I agree, there’s no reason that commercially viable software of this quality should be free. At the end of the day, I have absolutely no problem with your price but just with its presentation.
Thanks for having a look at the Ask Me plugin. I am finally getting around to updating it and trying to widdle down the time it takes to get up and running.
This plugin is definitely meant as a way for people to get to know you…not a knowledge base. It could be used for that, but there are plenty of others out there that fit that need. I will definitely keep this plugin as simple as possible to use.
Good luck with your work Sara! Please stop by with the download link for the new version when it’s ready. We would be interested in testing it.
Simplicity is beauty. In our own coding we try to keep options to a minimum. One way to cut down on the clutter is to make advanced options invisible (i.e. an extra click away) with just the configuration essentials visible.
Have you guys tried out any new plugins for Q&A/FAQ? I tried FAQ-Tastic, but there are features on it, I simply don’t like. For instance, the extra long URLs, the extra long titles, and how it turns each long question into a link. And, as you mentioned, the complexity of the plugin, such as the different categories and such.
As for Ask Me, it looks a bit too simple for my taste.
We are still prefering FAQ-tastic to all that’s out there.
I would suggest making a list of the exact customisation you want to FAQ-tastic and we could probably do it for you quite affordably.
hmmm, just tried to visit the factastic page (I had tried it a year ago but did not like it much then), but Avast Av won’t let me, as the website serves Trojans and quite agressively at that (6 attempts from some Java trojan!)…
This article is just what i needed. Thank you
Thanks for the comparison and review. Personally I prefer FAQ-Tastic plugin as it allows more customization. Yes, it can be quite a pain and seems daunting with the categories portion, but that suits what I need.
A good point that you have brought up about FAQ-tastic plugin which I totally agree with you is the part on maintenance – moving questions, etc. Very good point.
Aesthetically, I feel that Ask Me seems a bit too clustered. But that’s just my personal opinion.