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Brandon Cross Logo Brandon Cross

Why did you decide to write your own FAQ software?

There are other FAQ systems out there. So, why did we decide to write our own?

FAQ systems come with different capabilities. Often, they just create a list of questions on a page, some will dynamically list the questions in order of popularity, many will have a simple keyword search, but these are often very hit and miss – with the user not finding what they want with the keywords they use or finding a sea of articles rendering the search almost useless. Aside from functionality we wanted to create something which helped to demonstrate our approach to solving problems, and the FAQ is a fairly simple problem; but one with potential.

The system was put together using just a few open-source components and a bit of magic sauce to create an intelligent search capability to help you find what you are looking for. You can ask what you want, the way that you want, and it will rank the answers based on those which it deems most relevant to your question.

We will be adding more content over time, but the content in the system is sufficient to demonstrate the concept and also to answer your questions about how we operate as a business. Don’t ask it for recipes or political opinion as it won’t have a clue.

For the technically minded, this has been built using node.js, a content management system (CMS) called Strapi, and a machine learning algorithm to support the intelligent search capability. As a bespoke system it also has the benefit of being able to be extended and enhanced. We are also using some of our own components which allow us to build web-based business applications more quickly.

In terms of demonstrating our approach - we took a problem, identified some reusable components, and created a solution with a very quick turnaround. • The system allows new questions and answers to be added very easily, through a convenient interface, for which we didn’t need to write a line of code. We just used Strapi and integrated it with our node framework. An integration we can use over and over again. • The machine learning algorithm is a library component. There’s no need to reinvent wheels which already exist, particularly if they are free or cheap. This algorithm did what we wanted it to do and was very easy to work with. We could have used third party cloud services for this, but we found that we didn’t need to; saving us from any ongoing usage fees. • As the system is used new content can be added based on how it is being used, so it can improve over time based on what people are looking for, and the site is completely SEO friendly.

Do let us know what you like, or don’t like, together with any suggestions you may have.

We help organisations with their software development needs. This can be anything from a short consulting engagement to review existing development projects which may be struggling through to complete system design and implementation and operational support. Our goal is always to create something that works, adds value to the business, and has the flexibility to be adapted as the business changes and grows.