Whether you’re looking to provide information to customers, clients, or your own internal team, communication takes time and resources. Consequently, you may wonder whether there’s a way to provide valuable information in a more efficient way.
Fortunately, knowledge bases are an effective way to provide both frontline support to customers as well as helpful information internally. Creating a knowledge base can also have a big Return On Investment (ROI). Developers especially should view it as an essential part of any online service or product.
In this article, we’ll look at the ins and outs of creating a knowledge base. We’ll also go over a few tools that can help you get started with your own. Let’s dive right in!
What You Can Gain From Creating a Knowledge Base
First, let’s take a look at what exactly a knowledge base is. In short, it’s a repository or database of searchable information on a specific topic. For example, most websites that sell products or services have a knowledge base. Alternatively, it might just be the support section of a website:
Typically developed with simple keyword search technology, some knowledge bases use advanced Machine Learning (ML). Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs can then process the requests. These can return more sophisticated and targeted answers, and make suggestions based on your search terms.
When it comes to content, just about anything can be included in a knowledge base. Developers can play an integral role in creating the content for these databases for both front end-users and internal teams.
As developers, you have unique and in-depth knowledge of the software or applications users might need a knowledge base for. In fact, you may have been asked to help create one or add content as your products are updated.
It’s worth noting that knowledge bases tend to be a lot more valuable if they are kept diligently up-to-date. If not, they could even be a liability. Understandably, you want to avoid having users working with information that might not match up with your current product or service.
Knowledge bases can be leveraged in a number of ways. This includes building customer trust for the products you develop. Additionally, the more quality content you provide, the better your Domain Authority will be.
4 Useful Plugins for Creating a Knowledge Base
Using WordPress to build your knowledge base gives you a flexible base to start from. In fact, there are many helpful plugins and themes available to help. Let’s look at four.
The customer’s expectation that your applications will have searchable and reliable documentation can be a real burden at times. The Heroic Knowledge Base plugin is built to help lighten the load. This is a premium plugin with a helpful demo you can test out on the developer’s website.
There are three pricing tiers available starting at $129 a year. This includes support and updates for one website. You’ll get the benefit of Heroic’s live search functionality, which means users can try different search terms and see in real-time if the results are suitable – all without leaving the page.
Another helpful feature for developers is the built-in voting system. This can help you determine what elements of your project might need more attention, or if a document needs to be updated.
If you prefer a drag-and-drop style administration interface, weDocs is definitely a plugin to check out. It provides a quick, intuitive, and modern interface – although you can set it up to use a more traditional WordPress interface.
You can create, manage, organize, and tag all your documentation from one place with this free plugin. The features are extensive and the front end user display is professional-looking and easy to use.
Another beneficial feature you get with weDocs is a built-in email response system for your knowledge base. This can help you gather valuable information about how your users are leveraging your documentation.
If you’re looking for more of a clickable, FAQ-style experience, Ultimate FAQ is a worthwhile plugin. This plugin gives you the option to place an accordion-style FAQ anywhere on your website. This is a popular approach to providing support for your new applications or products.
You can use unlimited tags and categories to organize your FAQ articles. Additionally, you can customize the look of your FAQ posts with custom CSS styles. This can also be added to WooCommerce products, but is only available with the premium version of the plugin.
Ultimate FAQ has plenty of features that come with the free plugin, although upgrades start at just $30 for a single site license.
The Knowledge Base for Documents and FAQs plugin is a popular option for building a knowledge base with WordPress. Some of the key features of this plugin include the ability to organize data in several ways. This includes chronologically, alphabetically, or another suitable order.
You can also choose from four pre-made templates and 16 different color combinations. If you want to use add-ons to enhance the features of the plugin, premium bundles start at just $30. However, the base plugin itself is quite robust and free to download.
One add-on, in particular, that might be useful for development is the Access Manager. Using this feature you can control access to information meant for only your internal teams.
Why You Might Need a Knowledge Base Theme
Another aspect of creating a knowledge base is its look and feel. You may have noticed knowledge bases sometimes have a ‘stripped down’ look compared to other content-rich areas of a website. This is just one approach to presenting a knowledge base.
Alternatively, you can use a theme created specifically for knowledge bases. These themes often come with built-in features (such as analytics) that can actually inform and improve your FAQ content.
Of course, you could use any theme to create your knowledge base – coupled with a suitable plugin from the list above, you’ll have a robust and flexible system for your frontline support.
However, we’d recommend using a dedicated theme for vast documentation, potentially for a number of products. Running a Multisite network is probably the way to go here, and a microsite for your knowledge base will be a valuable asset in your support provision.
How to Get Started With Creating Your Knowledge Base
Whether you’re creating internal or external documentation, having a clear set of goals is a good way to get started. You may not automatically be able to list all the topics that might need to be covered. In this regard, setting some bigger picture goals might be helpful.
For example, is your goal to improve customer experience? Maybe your goal is to make sure all your team members know how to request time off. Whatever the goal, clearly defining it ahead of time will be a helpful guide to your overall project.
There are a number of other best practices to keep in mind while building your knowledge base, including:
- Providing robust search options
- Using clear organizational structures and logical categories
- Keeping popular topics front and center on the page
- Offering users a contact method if they need more support
There are many ways to organize and style a knowledge base, and ultimately it should represent your product uniquely. For example, Canva’s extensive support page features large icons to help users find the category they might be looking for:
Alternatively, the Dropbox help center puts the search functionality very big and bold at the top of the page. They also feature some common help categories, but ultimately present a streamlined and ‘fuss-free’ experience:
Regardless of the style or approach, providing a knowledge base for your customers or teams can have a positive ROI in the long-term.
While it might seem like a daunting task, quality documentation can help to establish yourself as a trusted developer. Preparing to create a knowledge base can take a bit of pre-planning though. Fortunately, we’ve covered some valuable key tips and tools to help the process go more smoothly.
Keep in mind, WordPress offers both free and premium knowledge base plugins with a range of features. When you pair these with a diligent approach to creating documentation, you’ll be a knowledge base hero in no time!
Still wondering about the different aspects of building a knowledge base? Post your questions in the comments section below!