The Smartest Way to Structure Your Knowledge Base
Updated: Dec 27, 2019
If happiness is infectious, then your business goals should include spreading the contagion. After all, based on the latest customer service statistics, 69% of consumers recommend a company after a positive customer experience. And we know that, just as with couples, one of the foundations of a happy business relationship is sharing information transparently and accurately. This is exactly what a knowledge base - also referred to as a help center - is meant for. It opens a lifeline of communication between you and your customers.
Setting up a knowledge base is a win-win situation. Clients want to help themselves and expect self-service options from companies. Searching for information in your help center saves them time. It gets them the information they need fast without having to stay on hold or wait for an email response. A good knowledge base also saves your support personnel time and reduces the number of tickets, enabling your staff to help customers who need more personal assistance. But if it isn't well thought out, it can become a labyrinth where your clients get stuck instead of finding the right answers.
Here are some tips on how to structure your knowledge base:
Organize your content based on your users’ needs
It could be tempting to classify your content the same way you do internally, but that wouldn’t necessarily make sense to your users. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think of the fastest way for them to zoom in on the info they need.
To do this, you should first determine which information to include in your knowledge base. What do your customers usually need help with? What information do they expect from you? What do you want them to know? Gather your content in a (virtual) pile before you sort it out.
Next, determine your categories. This sounds like a simple enough task, right? Classifying content should be quite obvious. But ask people how they organize their closet and you might be surprised at the different answers you get. Some people organize their clothes by type, others by color. Some arrange their clothes according to material, while others group them by occasion (daily outfits, business attire, formal wear, etc.). There are also those who arrange their clothes by brand!
The same could be said for the contents of your help center. You could choose to organize them according to purpose (tutorials, reference articles, known issues), type of customer (end users, developers, businesses), tasks (managing your account, renewing your subscription, etc.), or in any other way. There may not be a single correct way to do this. To gain some ideas, you could research how similar companies organize their information and offer support. But whichever method you decide on, the bottom line is: it should make sense to your customers and be consistent.
Lastly, name your categories well. Make them clear and distinct. Skip the jargon. Unless you expect your users to have a technical background, it’s best to keep the language in your knowledge base easy to understand.
Optimize user navigation
Because a knowledge database is a content generator, after reaching a certain number of categories and articles it might become difficult for your users to find their way to the answers they seek. Your responsibility, as a caring company, is not only to deliver the information, but to make sure that it’s easily accessible. Some design and UX (user experience) tips can help you:
Aim for a clean and efficient design. Minimize clutter so your users don’t waste time trying to find what they need. Direct their eye to the most important parts of your help center – the search bar, the category list, popular articles, FAQ, and how to contact you if they need more help.
Take formatting in consideration. Color coding your categories, using different font sizes and including bold text can help highlight important information. If you decide to incorporate these elements though, do remember to be consistent across articles.
The search bar should be prominent. One of the fastest ways to find information in any site is by using the search bar, so don’t make your users hunt for it! Make it noticeable (and even inviting). It helps to include a question in the search field, such as “What do you need help with?” or “What are you looking for?”. Remember, you want your customers to use the search bar. It helps them find information quickly and it helps you understand what they need help with.
Make it easy to find related content. Assign a category to each article and include links to related material. In addition, make it easy for search to find your content. You could improve search results by tagging your articles properly and by using keywords in article titles.
Help users find info in as few clicks as possible. Clicking endlessly to find information can be quite frustrating. Anticipate your users’ needs and make essential information (such as your FAQ and top articles) just one or two clicks away. Keep the number of subcategories to a minimum. While dividing your content into several layers of sections and subsections seems like the organized thing to do, it increases the number of clicks your clients have to make to find what they need.
Make your articles easy to read. A wall of text in a customer support article could appear daunting, so aim to present information in detailed yet digestible chunks. Use bullet points and numbered lists when relevant. Some users might learn better with visual aids or are simply too impatient to pore over paragraphs of information, so include engaging videos and images that will enhance your tutorials and reference materials. If a video or a picture will help you explain something better, add it to your article.
Offer extra help
Have you ever looked for a company’s “Contact Us” link only to find it hidden in the menu at the very bottom of the page, in font size 8? Then you know how annoying it is to have to dig for contact info, especially when you need help. Minimize your customers’ frustration level by letting them know how to reach you. Place your contact link at a predictable spot, such as the top right corner of your page, or in the main navigation menu. Let your customers know that you’re readily available to help them whether by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media channels.
Ask for feedback
Engage with the users of your knowledge base and give them a chance to provide feedback. This can be done by asking them if an article was helpful or if they found what they were looking for. You can also ask them to fill out a short survey about how to improve your help center.
Aside from direct customer feedback, check what users search for to see which topics are the most popular. Make these articles more visible. Finally, you’ll want to monitor your support tickets, too. If you find your staff handling the same issues repeatedly, then these might be better addressed by including them in your knowledge base.
By analyzing how your customers use your help center, you can gain insight not only about your customer’s needs but also how to improve your product or service. In short, check how your customers use your knowledge base and adjust, adjust, adjust!
Keep SEO in mind
Customers seeking help usually start with Google, so you want to make sure your help center appears at the top of search results. One way to do this is to determine which keywords people use to find your products or services. You can then use this information to organize your knowledge base structure around the most popular topics. It’s also wise to include these keywords in your article titles and throughout your article content. You can use Google Search Console to find frequently asked queries that people type into Google to reach your website’s pages. There are some other SEO tools you can use to find what people are searching for in general to give you some ideas for articles.
Interlinking articles will also help boost the SEO of your help center. If you mention a certain topic that you cover in one of your knowledge base articles, link to it. Doing this will help search engines crawl and index your pages, and facilitates how they understand your knowledge database structure. Search engines can then match your pages to search queries better. Ultimately, this means that people searching for you will be able to find you.
Optimize your knowledge base for mobile use
According to the Google Consumer Barometer, 68% of Internet users in the United States use smartphones to access the Web just as frequently or more often than they use computers or tablets. Making your knowledge base mobile-friendly is clearly a necessity. Make it lightweight for quick loading. Adapt its design for small screens and ensure that your menus and buttons are “finger friendly”. To save time, you could choose customer service software that can do this for you automatically.
Provide support in the languages of your target audience
If you have a global consumer base or if you are located in a country with multiple languages, then it’s vital to offer multi-lingual support. Translate the contents of your knowledge base to languages that your customers speak. It’s also important to place the language selection option in a conspicuous location, like the top right or left corner of the page.
And one last tip: Keep it simple! The purpose of the knowledge base is to make your customers' lives easier, not overwhelm them with information. It isn't meant to be like those thick, massive, and intimidating user manuals of decades past. Think of it as an inviting portal where one goes to find the right answers.
That's all there is to it! Are you ready to build your knowledge base? Setting it up is a breeze with Wix Answers.