As the name suggest, WordPress FAQ-Tastic Plugin is designed to help you create FAQ pages.
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.
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.
- 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.
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).
- 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.
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
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