Are website support sections a waste of time?

We are working on the next version of our software product

I had a look at the analytics and it seems very few users ever look at the support pages of the site.

Are other people finding this? Are we better using in app support? Just give the info directly on to the page?

I think they call this onboarding? I do have tooltip etc in the current version of the app but I am not even sure how many look at those.

I might try little videos or something for the next edition.

Would appreciate any advice on what help info you think users actually look at.

Also any great examples for desktop apps would be great.

We have a few pages in our help/support section for topics we most frequently get support questions on. Instead of creating pages for everything we tracked what people were asking about and focused on those issues.

Second that.

What I did, instead of building full blown Help/support section, was simple live-chat widget where users can ask questions and I could answer on the other side. If I noticed, some of the questions repeated, I would make a canned response and use it to send quick replies and also add it to the Help section.

This way I could learn more about my users and their needs, craft better responses and improve my product dramatically.

Checked the analytics, the support (FAQ) page gets 5% of visitors. Even if it’s low, I can always copypaste some answer from there when answering a generic question sent via email.

Not a waste of time at all :-

  • They will remove some support burden. Not all, but some. And existing customers who have been ‘trained’ will be more likely than new customers to look in the support area.

  • Its an easy way of sending details to someone - instead of typing up something or sending a canned response send a quick response with a link. Also trains them where to look in future.

  • Google will index the support pages, all helps with SEO and some of them may become good landing pages in their own right.

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Support sections are definitely not a waste of time. Others have said the same, but I’ll reiterate:

  • Some customers with support problems will find the relevant page in your support suggestion using Google. This reduces your support tickets and reduces customer frustration levels
  • Support pages have some SEO benefit.
  • Remember that every exposure to a customer (or potential customer) is also part of your marketing. The presence of a good support site can be the deciding factor for someone almost ready to buy but not quite certain.

Here’s an excellent support section for a desktop app, Balsamiq Mockups. Note the links for popular topics and search box with live suggestions:

Here’s the support section for my product, Poker Copilot. Note the “lost your license” box at the top. For mature desktop apps, this is probably the number 1 support issue. Since adding this, we seldom get emails anymore for lost licenses.

Echoing what others have said: support sites can be both useful for customers as well as a source of inbound traffic. We have and it is one of the higher traffic subdomains we maintain, as the articles are well indexed. It also provides an easy way to answer a variety of support requests by simply pointing the customer to the support article.

It does require maintenance though, so keep that in mind when you start. If it gets stale then it becomes less useful.

thanks for the feedback guys. I Think I will go with trying to add as much info into the app then creating support pages for the most common issues.