You’ve probably read the title and thought: “Article that answers EVERY question – are you kidding me?” Actually, we are not. With comprehensive actionable content and inner links that lead to additional relevant posts, a reader will have no further questions after reading your text.
Interested? In this blog post, we will provide you with 8 steps that can help you to create a successful knowledge base article.
What is a knowledge base article?
In short, a knowledge base article is a piece of detailed helpful information that you can immediately apply. It usually features a set of step-by-step instructions about a product to guide users or to help them solve common problems. We call it an ‘article’, however it doesn’t necessarily have to be written. You can share video guides, images, or infographics to demonstrate your point.
Why is creating effective knowledge base articles tough?
Firstly, in knowledge base articles, you need to talk about complex things in simple language. Recall that famous quote from Einstein saying: “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” To describe multistage instructions for installing or configuring the software clearly, the author must themselves know the product from head to toe. And not every member of any team can boast of this.
Secondly, knowledge base content should speak to a range of different people, from complete beginners in tech to geeks and experts. While using simple language, it can’t sound like you are talking to dummies. For instance, if you’re writing about knowledge base settings for SEO, skip the SEO definition. In this case, assume that readers already know it, since they are looking for settings instructions.
Thirdly, the knowledge base has to cover all possible topics – anything that your customers may need help with or issues that they might run into. To do that, companies usually start with in-depth research of any road bumps on a customer journey. Also, they take into account FAQs.
Ok-ok, so where to start, you may ask? It’s always better to start from the beginning.
Types of knowledge base articles
Like almost everything in this world, so can knowledge base articles also be of a different type. Some common types that you might come across are:
How-to articles, or step-by-step instructions
This kind of knowledge base article describes the steps a user should take to accomplish a task. It usually answers questions that start with “How to…”:
- “How to install the widget?”
- “How to change the color of the interface?”
- “How to reset the password?” etc.
This type of content focuses on one single action the user is trying to complete.
As it follows from its name, a troubleshooting article offers a solution to a particular issue that the user is struggling with. It addresses not a question, but rather a specific problem like:
- I noticed unauthorized activity at my account
- Can’t sign in from a third-party service
- Don’t receive a verification email.
In most cases, a series of options must be tried before the customer’s problem is resolved.
These quick posts are made to give answers to the most common questions. You can break all those questions down into sections (like billing, account setting, reporting) and share answers in blocks. Or place them by popularity, starting with the most popular ones, like McDonald’s did.
Product descriptions and informational articles
Product and informational content offer an overview of a product, service, system, concept, or functionality. This knowledge base article usually provides background information that assists readers in better understanding the product or service offered.
Unlike how-to, FAQs, or troubleshooting posts, product description pieces are not intended to help customers solve an issue at all. Instead, they are meant to educate users on a product and its functionality they are unfamiliar with yet.
8 easy steps to create a knowledge base article
1. Think about your audience
Content in KB, like customer support in general, needs to be tailored to your clients. It means that the language, the manner, the article itself should speak to the target audience. Otherwise, the information you offer might be irrelevant or just boring to users.
By leveraging surveys, for instance, try to find answers to the following questions about your buying persona:
- What aspects of your product or service are the most challenging for the users?
- How do your customers feel about the lively manner of storytelling spiced with a handful of humor in KB? Or do they prefer concrete info, without further ado?
- What format of supporting content do they prefer – written text, video, audio, infographics?
- How technically savvy do they consider themselves?
Without knowing your audience’s preferences, your knowledge base won’t be able to fully cater to their needs and wants.
Hypothetically, you may already know a few answers to the questions listed above as part of your marketing strategy. But if not, no worries. There is no harm in surveying some of your users when building your knowledge base. When the tool is ready, release a ‘beta’ version first to a selected number of customers. It can help you improve the content, the format and spot the areas for refining.
2. Build the knowledge base content structure
Ok then. Now you have all the information collected and in one place. It’s time to decide on the design and structure of your content.
Most of these begin with a traditional home page for the help center. This example from Canva displays clearly how effective knowledge base materials should be organized.
Canva gives users the opportunity to describe a specific issue, navigate by categories (“Account settings,” “Payments,” “Downloading”, etc.), or search by top articles.
It’s incredibly important to make your help desk page easy to navigate through. Ask yourself if a customer has a problem is it easy for them to find the solution? Focal points here would be:
- Placing a search bar to the home page and making it noticeable,
- Breaking down the content by topics,
- Highlighting most popular knowledge base articles,
- Adding internal links to the related content.
3. Decide on your writing process
This is the moment when you finally take a pen, a clean slate, and start writing (or just a laptop for that matter). Let’s eventually find out how to write a successful knowledge base article.
Choose the type of article you want to write. Product description? Troubleshooting? How-to? Then you have to come up with a headline. Unlike writing catchy titles for blog posts, you better focus on a strong and clear headline in KB that says plainly what the text is about. There should be no room for assumptions.
|Blog post title||Knowledge base article title|
|The 5 best ways to attract customers you’ve ever seen||How to set up a proactive chat to attract customers on autopilot?|
Apart from that, there are a few more general rules for writing support content:
- Be specific in your content. Say precisely what to ‘click’ step by step to get a wishful result.
- Use visuals like images, screenshots, infographics to explain a complex process.
- Apply bullet points to break up the text and make it more readable.
- Format the content. Use bold to bring readers’ attention to a specific word.
- Use symbols, like “>” to demonstrate a series of clicks in a single step.
In a nutshell, prioritize simplicity and clarity over complexity and nuance in knowledge base articles.
4. Optimize SEO
Have you known that an effective knowledge base article can help you get noticed by Google search? Yes, it can and should. So, when writing for a help center, keep an eye on specific keywords. It’s better to use prevalent terms like “build“, “pay“, “set up“ in your KB (they will vary depending on the context and the overall knowledge base content) to raise the chances of improving SEO metrics.
Some knowledge base tools allow you to fill in SEO data like title, meta description, meta keyword, social title, description, and image.
Make sure to include the keyword phrase in your title, URL, and meta description as well. It has a huge impact on whether you show up or not.
5. Update your articles
Content relevancy is the number one priority when it comes to knowledge base posts. You may have a brilliant writing style and amazing pictures to illustrate your point, but if it’s not relevant you may lose the client right away.
To not miss the next article update, keep track of past and upcoming feature releases in a task manager like Notion or Trello.
This way, it will be easier to refresh the content on time as your product or service gets enriched with new functionality. Also, avoid repeating the same information in a few different articles. It’s just a bad tone.
Think about assigning the knowledge base to a specific person who will be responsible for writing articles and updating them. It can be a person from your customer success team since they are the ones to know exactly what users like, dislike, and look for.
Now, when a knowledge base article is written, it’s time to distribute it across different channels. You can definitely use it to support marketing content (on social media, for instance), demonstrate on success calls with customers, or refer to it in blog posts when explaining a complex concept. Not only does this approach provide a more in-depth explanation of the term, but it also illustrates your product in action.
How else can you share it? In a chat with your customers, for instance. Some tools even allow to build-in the knowledge base option into your live chat widget. More details are below.
7. Measure its effectiveness
So, how do you know if users are happy with your knowledge base content and leaving it with their problem solved and questions answered?
There are two main ways to measure the effectiveness of the content on your help page.
First, include simple surveys at the end of each article. These surveys are usually really quick and ask a reader to answer just one question – “Was this article helpful?” Beneath, you can add a few emojis or thumbs-up/thumbs-down icons, so users can just click on one of them. After that, in the Report section, you will see how well each article performs.
The second way to tell if your KB is effective is to provide an email address, live chat widget, or a phone number for users and encourage them to get in touch for further questions. If you get plenty of messages/calls, then probably you need to work on the help page more.
But I’d say that the first approach is definitely more effective. Many people avoid reaching for customer support. So, if users don’t like the article, they may just leave the page without ever contacting you.
8. Choose the right tool
When you know how to create effective knowledge base content, just one question is left. What is the knowledge base best software that you can rely on? How to know which one is the best for you?
In short, the KB tool you choose has to offer an easy-to-master editor, allow surveys, provide article reports, be SEO friendly and customizable to match your brand’s style. In an ideal world, it’ll provide more than just a knowledge base feature.
If you are on the same page here, then I highly recommend the HelpCrunch software, an all-in-one customer communication platform. It offers just the right set of tools – live chat, a popup builder, knowledge base, and email marketing functionality.
The most affordable plan starts from $15/mo per agent, and it does include the knowledge base. On top of that, you can easily add a help center option to the live chat widget. So that users can choose to either turn to an agent or find the answer themselves faster.
Best knowledge base articles examples
Get knowledge and inspiration from the best. We’ve collected a few knowledge base examples to ignite the fire of your creativity.
The app designed for note-taking explains how to get started with the tool in three quick steps. It’s simple, short, and to the point. I especially like how they divided actions by different types of software customers may use.
When you just enter their help page, you immediately notice their engaging illustrations near each section. Moreover, a little communication window pops up in a few seconds asking if you like their new knowledge base.
HubSpot help article on how to set up notifications is not that entertaining. But still, it does explain the process, includes screenshots, bullet points, bold text, and related articles section which can help a reader to find additional information.
The world-known tech giant is also paying attention to knowledge base articles effectiveness. For example, below you can see an example of their article with the headline “Set up family sharing”. Here you can see screenshots, step-by-step instructions depending on the gadget you are using – iPhone or Mac. Throughout the text, you can find links to related content. In the end, there is a little survey to learn if the content was helpful.
Also, the company offers readers to go to the Apple community and ask the question there to discuss issues with other users.
To write a knowledge base article that answers every customer service question, you need to use simple language, provide actionable information on how to fix the issue, and include internal links to the related content. Then your customer will leave satisfied and with no questions on their head.
What else you need is a great knowledge base software that allows you to fulfill your ideas and provide stable support content to the users. We recommend HelpCrunch as a reliable knowledge base tool that among others offers functionality for support, marketing, and sales. Start your 14-day free trial now and see what I am talking about.
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