As today’s digital-savvy, connected consumers expect and demand easy access to accurate information about the products and services they use, having a comprehensive self-service knowledge base is no longer ‘nice-to-have’ but a must-have. In fact, Microsoft’s research revealed that 90% of global consumers expect brands and organizations to offer an online portal for self-service. Moreover, according to Forrester’s survey, customers prefer knowledge bases over all other self-service channels. Below is a simple guide to writing various types of knowledge base articles along with some basic knowledge base article templates you can use to get started.
A knowledge base is an online self-service library containing articles and detailed information about a specific company, its products, or services. It can include a FAQ section, how-to articles, troubleshooting tips, user guides, and video tutorials – anything that helps customers and prospects find answers to their questions and resolve product or service issues on their own (without involving customer service).
A knowledge base can provide valuable data for customers, prospects, and even employees. When used externally, a knowledge base is where customers and prospects can go to learn everything they’d ever need to know about a company’s products or services. An internal knowledge base can be used to internally distribute all company knowledge and information.
To ensure your knowledge base is straight to the point, easily readable, informative, and highly relevant, each knowledge base article should be:
Follow these simple steps for writing effective articles for your knowledge base:
It’s critical to create a title that clearly states what task or problem the article deals with. It’s best to use titles based on actions or user expectations. Keep them short and search-friendly by including specific keywords, and avoid using technical terms that aren’t necessary. Here are some of the most common knowledge base article titles you can use:
“Getting Started with …”
“New User Guide”
“A Guide to …”
“Intro to …”
“How to Set up Your …”
“How to Fix …”
“Managing Your Account”
“Installing Your …”
Though the structure may vary based on the article type, a typical knowledge base article would include a short intro, description of the problem (if applicable), outlining the steps to accomplish the task, summarizing the outcome and listing related links. Longer articles may have a table of contents to help readers find the sections they are interested in and skip any unnecessary information.
When it comes to formatting your knowledge base articles, simplicity is key. To make your text easily scannable, you may consider:
If you are walking your users through a step by step guide, you can make your instructions more clear by including screenshots, GIFs, videos, or whatever else may help your readers digest the content easier. In fact, when writing task-oriented copy, visuals are a must as they enrich your support content and help to keep users engaged.
Offer related links for further reading at the end of the article to help readers discover more helpful information. This is especially important when users are likely to want to learn more about a related topic, or when your article covers only one aspect of a larger set of tasks.
“You may also like”
Frequently asked questions are an important part of any knowledge base as they address the most commonly asked questions.
How-to articles help users solve problems they have with your products or services. The articles are typically brief but very specific and provide a simple step-by-step guide to performing a certain task.
Troubleshooting articles are supposed to help users resolve more complex issues they may have with your products or services. They’re very similar to how-to articles, however, they focus on providing solutions when things go wrong, as opposed to educating users on how to complete a task or how to get the most out of a particular product feature.
Tool description articles give a short description of what a specific product/ service is. Rather than answering questions or laying out step-by-step instructions, they tell readers exactly how the product/ service works. They may also include some information about the features and benefits of the tool and explain why it’s worth purchasing.
User guides or user manuals are typically long, detailed, comprehensive articles that provide an entire product or service description. They include complete information on using every single feature to give users a well-rounded education on the product or service. Most user guides contain both a written guide and associated images (screenshots, diagrams, etc.).
Tutorials are very similar to how-to articles with step-by-step instructions, however, they provide more in-depth information and don’t always contain steps in chronological order. A tutorial can include a structured, complete explanation of what users can do with a specific product, service or feature along with related visuals (screenshots, videos, etc.)
Ready to put our knowledge base templates to use?
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