5 Tips for Making Your Knowledge Base User-Friendly
Updated: Jan 11
The purpose of a knowledge base is to provide product information for users. It should help your customers save time and energy, which ultimately means that they get things done faster.
Everyone loves fast, especially customers. If you're running a customer-facing knowledge base, you want your customers to find the information they need quickly and easily. But the same requirement is for the internal knowledge base.
Information is useless if it takes forever to get to. The first question everyone asks themselves when dealing with a knowledge base is – “Will I find what I am looking for?” And, the second one is – “If I read this article, will it be easy to comprehend?”
Here are 5 tactics to make sure your knowledge base is useful.
When you're writing customer support articles, you want to make sure that the content is formatted in a way that's easy for your audience to read. So, consider using a template for your articles. You can have one template or a few different ones based on the article types. An article that describes what to do in an error message situation can be different from an article explaining the usage of a specific feature. Furthermore, an article meant for the support team only, guiding them with troubleshooting, can have a different structure.
A template can help ensure that the content you create is consistent, so users feel like they're getting the same high-quality experience every time. It can also save you time when you're writing new articles since it's already formatted for you!
Templates can contain not only the general structure of the articles but ensuring that the pictures are always the same size, the font is the same and in general, the same style is being used.
Finding information is an essential part of making your knowledge base easy to use. You want to make sure that you're providing the right information to the user and ensure that articles are found. This means making sure that you're using keywords in a way that will find the right results for them.
Different users use different variations of words. E.g. someone might search with the word Microsoft, another one with the word MS. Ensure that all options provide the right articles to the user.
This might be at the beginning difficult to know, but by using the reporting tools of your knowledge base, you can see which search terms the users are using and then improve article metadata. For the internal knowledge base, you can ask around from the support team, how they would search for a specific topic and which words they use.
TIP: if the technology allows, it is a good idea to have a little summary of the article in the search results, to allow users to get confirmation that the article is the right one for their needs.
Connect the article to context right away. You can do this by clarifying what error the article is about or which task the user is trying to accomplish. For example, use the following methods:
Error - reason - solutions starting from the easiest one
Show clearly which product (plan) the article is related to
Task / Use case - steps to complete the task
By doing this, the user knows that they're reading the right article and won't waste time looking for other similar articles that may or may not exist.
Have a structured way to write clear and to-the-point article names. Consider the length of the headers, too; the shorter, the easier to spot if the article is the right one. Consider following:
Do articles start with “How to…”? For example, "How to update my payment method" instead of "Update my payment method."
Is the verb imperative or present participle? For example, updating my payment method vs. update my payment method.
Do you use possessive pronouns? For example, Update payment method vs. update my payment method
This isn't just about finding the right article quickly—it's also about making sure that people can use it quickly. If they can't find what they need, the usage of your knowledge base drops or becomes non-existent.
This means using lists, color blocks, and short paragraphs. It also means avoiding long articles. Nobody wants to read a wall of text! Consider splitting articles into shorter ones and linking them together when relevant.
Another way to make your knowledge base easy to use is by making sure that the articles are skimmable. Use sub-headers and other formatting tricks that break up the content into easily digestible chunks for your readers. This allows them to jump into the specific part of the article to get faster to the specific information they need at that moment.
Don't forget about the images! Images can make reading easier on the eyes (and easier on the brain). Don't just include images because they look pretty, though—make sure they actually add value by demonstrating concepts or providing extra context.
Well, that's it! I’ve covered all five ways to make your knowledge base easy to use. In conclusion, I recommend you:
Pay attention to searchability
Have to-the-point headlines
Make articles pleasant to read.
Remember, the faster your support team finds the right information, the faster they can reply to a customer. And the greater the likelihood that a customer will find information in a customer-facing knowledge base, the fewer inquiries they will send to your team. It is a win-win.