A well-curated knowledge base is a game-changer for businesses and their customer support functions. It not only empowers customers with self-service support resources but also alleviates the pressure on your support team.
However, the benefits hinge on the quality of your knowledge base articles. They are the backbone of your knowledge base and must be clear, concise, and actionable to effectively guide users.
This article will take you through the process of creating outstanding knowledge base articles that deliver a positive customer experience and enhance your business's reputation. Here's a summary of the main steps:
Identify the purpose
What's your goal? Guide users through a complicated process, answer a common question, or provide tips to optimize usage of your product?
Research and understand the topic
Speak with product experts in your company, review user comments on social media, or study common search terms and issues customers raise in support tickets.
Create a clear and concise title
Your title should quickly clarify the article's main focus.
Add problem description
Help readers identify if they are in the right place by summarizing the problem the article is trying to resolve at the beginning.
Provide step-by-step solutions
Break down your solution to the problem into clear, manageable steps.
Add visual aids
Add images, charts, or video demonstrations for clarity.
Link to other relevant articles
Add contextual links to provide additional information and guide readers through the next steps.
Read on to dive deeper into each of these steps and learn more about the best practices for perfecting a knowledge base article.
Picture a vast online library filled with informative articles about products, services, or any topic your customer might need help with – that's a knowledge base. And each individual article in this library? Those are knowledge base articles.
A knowledge base article could be anything from a detailed product guide to a concise help article. It’s like a hybrid of a user manual and an FAQ, offering step-by-step instructions tailored to specific user queries.
For instance, a software company might provide a knowledge base article titled "How to Reset Your Password," which includes an easy-to-follow guide with visuals. But creating an effective article demands more than simply outlining steps - it requires a deep understanding of the issue, clarity in writing, and strategic use of SEO. In this article, we’ll explore these components and more.
Types of knowledge base articles
Knowledge base articles can take various forms, each serving a specific purpose in educating your audience. Here are five main types:
How-to articles: These provide step-by-step guides to help users accomplish specific tasks. Example: "How to Update Your Profile". These will often appear in the help desk section and are great for beginners using your product or service.
FAQ articles: These articles are based on the frequently asked questions from your users. They address common issues or queries and offer straightforward answers.
Troubleshooting article: These articles help users diagnose and resolve problems. They typically start with the problem statement and walk users through the resolution steps.
Product or feature overviews: These articles offer a detailed explanation of a product or feature, often written as a tutorial, which helps users understand its functionality and benefits.
Glossaries or definition articles: If your product or service involves technical terms, it can be helpful to have articles that simply define these terms for users. This makes your knowledge base more comprehensive and helps users understand other articles better.
Before you put pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboard) there's important groundwork to be laid. This phase is crucial for writing knowledge base articles that truly resonate with your readers and meet their needs.
Identify the purpose
The first step is to identify the purpose of your article. This should align with a specific customer need or question. Are you aiming to guide users through a complicated process, answer a common question, or provide tips to optimize usage of your product? Knowing the purpose of the article not only helps you frame your content but also influences the tone and style of your writing.
Research and understand the topic
Once you've nailed down the purpose, it's time to deep-dive into the topic. Even if you think you're an expert, there's always something new to learn or different perspectives to consider. This might involve speaking with product experts in your company, reviewing user comments on social media, looking at the latest industry trends, or studying common search terms and issues customers raise in support tickets.
Remember, the goal is to fully understand the topic from the user's point of view. You might understand the ins and outs of a feature, but do you understand where your customers typically get stuck? What terminology do they use? What issues are they facing that you might not even be aware of?
For example, if you're a software company creating an article on "Data Security Settings," you might find in your research that many customers aren't making use of two-factor authentication because they find it cumbersome. That's valuable insight to address in your article.
Write your knowledge base article
Now, it's time to dive into the actual writing process. It's here you'll bring together everything you've prepared, turning your understanding of the topic and your purpose into a helpful, user-friendly resource.
Clear and concise title
Article titles should immediately convey the subject matter. Customers are often in a hurry to find a solution, so a simple title like "How to Update Your Billing Information" works better than something vague or clever.
Begin the article with a brief description of the problem or pain points. This helps customers identify if they are in the right place and sets the stage for the solution.
Here's where the rubber meets the road. Break down your solution to the problem into clear, manageable steps. Use straightforward language and be as specific as possible. Instead of saying, "Check your network settings," it's more helpful to say, "Go to the 'Settings' menu, click on 'Network', and check if you're connected to the right network."
Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Whenever possible, use screenshots, diagrams, or even video walkthroughs to illustrate your instructions. For example, include a screenshot of what the network settings should look like when correctly configured.
Link to other relevant articles in your knowledge base to provide additional context or information. If you're discussing how to update billing information, link to articles about payment methods or troubleshooting payment issues. For longer articles, be sure to use anchor links so users can jump directly to the information they need.
Writing a knowledge base article is less about showcasing your expertise and more about serving your customers' needs. Keep it simple, specific, and user-focused, and you'll be on your way to creating articles that truly add value to your customers' experience.
Perfecting your knowledge base article
Writing a knowledge base article isn't just about getting words on a page—it's about crafting a tool that will genuinely help your customers and improve user experience.
Here's how to perfect your article and elevate it from good to great:
Make Your article scannable and readable
Most readers will scan your article rather than read it word-for-word. Make it easy for them by using headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists. Highlight key steps or points to help them stand out.
Incorporate relevant keywords into your title, subheadings, and body text. Include metadata like tags and categories to improve search functionality. This helps search engines understand your content and can improve your article's visibility in search results.
Ensure clarity and precision
Every word should serve a purpose. Eliminate any fluff and ensure your sentences are clear and precise. A vague instruction can confuse your readers and make your article less effective.
Avoid unnecessary technical jargon
While you might be comfortable with technical jargon, your readers may not be. Wherever possible, replace complex terms with simpler, more commonly understood language.
Use a consistent tone and style
Maintaining a consistent tone and style throughout your article makes it easier for your readers to follow. Whether you opt for a friendly, casual tone or a more formal one, stick to it from start to finish.
Avoid lengthy articles
Long articles can feel daunting. If a topic requires extensive coverage, consider breaking it into a series of articles. Each article should focus on one aspect of the topic, making it easier for your readers to digest.
Use tags and categories
Tags and categories aren't just for SEO—they also help your customers find relevant articles. Use them to group similar articles together, making it easier for customers to find related content.
Create a table of contents
A well-structured table of contents helps users navigate large amounts of content and find what they're looking for more easily.
Ensure accessibility for all users
Finally, make sure your content is accessible to all users, regardless of any physical disabilities they might have. Use alt text for images, provide transcripts for videos, and ensure your content can be read by screen readers.
If you serve customers in various regions, consider translating your articles into the languages your customers speak. Localization is about more than just translation; it's about making sure examples, images, and even tone resonate with a particular cultural context.
Bettermode’s customer can host their community in multiple languages. They can also let members select their preferred language and translate all community content to a language they are most comfortable with. Read more about this here.
With more people accessing the internet on their mobile devices, ensure your knowledge base articles are easy to read on smaller screens. This might involve responsive design, shorter paragraphs, and larger fonts.
Include a way for users to provide feedback on your article to ensure its usefulness. Ask if the article was helpful at the end, or provide a comments section where readers can ask questions or suggest improvements. With a platform like Bettermode, you can take advantage of extensive engagement features to collect feedback, including gamification tools that make it fun to interact with your knowledge base content!
Maintaining and optimizing your knowledge base articles
Even after your knowledge base article is live, your work isn't quite done. Your product team probably launches regular updates and product fixes, and your articles must keep pace. Regular maintenance and optimization ensure your articles remain relevant, accurate, and user-friendly.
Look for outdated content
First, routinely review your articles for outdated content. As your product or service evolves, steps may change, screenshots might become outdated, or entire features could be added or removed. Regular check-ins ensure the information remains current and useful.
Gather and incorporate user feedback
Secondly, pay close attention to user feedback. Your customers are the best judges of whether your articles are helpful. Act on the feedback you receive. If customers say an article is confusing, clarify it. If they're asking questions that your article doesn't answer, update it. This iterative process keeps your knowledge base aligned with your users' needs and can reveal gaps you didn't know existed.
How to structure a knowledge base article
Now that you know all the best practices for creating a knowledge base article, it's time to put your article together. Here's a visual guide on how you can structure your knowledge base article:
Knowledge base article examples and what makes them stand out
The theory and strategy behind crafting a great knowledge base article is important, but nothing demonstrates these principles better than real-world examples. Let's look at three case studies:
Case study 1: Bettermode’s “Accessing Your Billing Details” article
Bettermode uses its own product to publish its knowledge base articles on Bettermode Hub - Bettermode’s customer community. This all-in-one approach creates a unified customer self-service portal that not only streamlines the customer experience but also enhances community-driven learning and allows customers to use the advanced community features to engage with the knowledge base content, ask questions and provide feedback.
Clarity and simplicity: Bettermode's article nails simplicity, avoiding industry jargon or complex terminologies that might confuse readers. The step-by-step instructions are super clear, making the article user-friendly and effective.
Visual instructions: The article guides users towards visual cues like "Billing" and "Settings". This approach caters to visual learners and makes it easier for users to verify they're on the right track when following instructions.
Term explanations: It includes a section to clarify payment statuses, empowering users to confidently manage their accounts.
Contextual links: Adding "Related Topics" at the end guides users to more relevant information. This enhances usability and enriches user understanding.
Case study 2: Spotify's 'How to Play Music' article
Actionable Tips: The article not only outlines a clear step-by-step process, but also points the user to other articles for more information.
Consistent Tone and Style: The friendly, helpful tone is consistent throughout the article and is aligned with Airbnb’s brand, which makes it more engaging to read.
Responsive Design: The article is easy to read on any device, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This ensures accessibility for all users, regardless of how they're accessing the information.
Creating effective knowledge base articles is both an art and a science, blending user-focused content with strategic design and maintenance practices. These articles are more than just informational—they're tools that empower your customers and augment your customer service efforts.
Your knowledge base is a reflection of your commitment to your customers, and by investing time and effort into it, you're demonstrating that customer satisfaction is your top priority.
What is the difference between a knowledge base article and a blog?
Knowledge articles and blogs, though both vital content types, serve distinct roles.
A knowledge article primarily solves customer problems or answers questions. It's direct, focused, and solution-driven, existing mainly in a company's knowledge base. Example: a tech firm's "How to Reset Your Password" article. Knowledge base articles typically fall under the responsibility of customer support and success departments.
Meanwhile, a blog is a marketing tool to educate and inform audiences at different stages in the customer journey. A blog is typically more informal and conversational, aiming to engage readers, share insights, or discuss trends.
In summary, knowledge articles instruct and solve, while blogs engage and inform.
How do I publish a knowledge base article?
Publishing a knowledge base article relies on your chosen knowledge base platform, which could be standalone knowledge base software like or Document360, or an integrated part of broader customer service platforms like Bettermode, Salesforce or HubSpot.
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