How to Create a Great Knowledge Base

Customers want to find answers quickly and easily. In fact, 45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions are not addressed quickly (Forrester).

There are several ways to address customer questions; and although there’s no one size fits all, customer self-service is important. 60% of consumers use web self-service knowledge to find answers to their questions (Forrester).

Some customers just want to find the answers themselves. If they don’t, they’ll do one of two things: leave without purchasing or ask customer support. The goal of a strong knowledge base is to help customers quickly find answers to their questions before they decide to leave the website or contact customer support. Since 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase (eConsultancy), a great knowledge base is essential for any online business.

What makes a great knowledge base?

The four keys to a great knowledge base are: intuitive structure, consistency, media, and quality.

Intuitive structure

Organizing your knowledge base using an intuitive structure helps your customers quickly find what they’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to place the same content under multiple sections, if it makes sense. Every users thinks a little differently and may search for sections with different logic.

Make heading text meaningful and concise. Include keywords wherever possible. Users looking for specific subjects will often scan quickly for keywords in headings first. Once their eye catches a keyword they’ll look deeper into that piece of content. Try to make each heading distinct from others around it. This helps users scan even faster and more easily pick out the content they need.

With great headings and intuitive structure in your knowledge base, users will find the answers they’re looking for much faster, get less frustrated, and ultimately be more satisfied.

Consistency

Consistency is important in all aspects of a knowledge base: structure, headings, content, and style. Consistency helps users maintain familiarity with your knowledge base, helping maintain their attention and making it easier to read.

Use the same deciding factors (whatever they may be) throughout your knowledge base structure. Maintain the same capitalization rules and voice (ideally active) wherever possible in your headings.

In your content, always use the same content structures for the same kinds of content. For example, use tables for data, bulleted lists for items with no required sequence and numbered lists when there is a required sequence.

Maintain consistent style by using the same font families, styles and sizes for the same types of content throughout your knowledge base. For example, use bold text for emphasis of important phrases or keywords. You can use different fonts for body, headings, and other types of content; just make sure you do it consistently throughout your knowledge base. This helps users discern between different types of content and their meaning.

Media

“Show, don’t tell”, as they say. But when is it appropriate to show and when should you tell? Images and videos are great, but they can often serve as obstructions to simple tasks. When a task is only a few steps and very simple, using text-only instructions is often ideal. When there’s a possibility of confusion or the task is more complex, images can be very helpful.

When using images, it’s a good idea to highlight areas in the image with arrows, callouts, or boxes. This attracts the user’s focus to the important areas of the image.

Videos, in my opinion are only sometimes helpful. Not all users are willing to take the time required to watch a video. Videos are also not as convenient as text and images to step back a few steps when needed. I recommend videos as supplementary material and teaching tools. They are not the ideal medium for quick answers to customers’ questions.

Quality

Quality of content keeps the user’s attention and adds credibility to your knowledge base. Review your content and structure for spelling, grammar, consistency, and readability. Ask someone else to review it too. Many errors are often easy to spot, but it may take someone else to spot confusing content.

Setting up your Knowledge Base in Snappy

In Snappy, the knowledge base is referred to as the FAQ. But it can serve as either. It only depends on how you want to phrase your heading and content.

If you don’t have a Snappy account, you can sign up for a free trial at besnappy.com.

Build your structure

All knowledge base management in Snappy is done in the FAQ section. To get there, click the FAQ tab.

FAQ tab

Create a top-level section

  1. Click the Add New Faq button.
  2. In the dialog window enter the title of the top-level section and click the Add Faq button to save.

The new section is added to the knowledge base.

New section added to knowledge base

Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each top level section, as needed. Now let’s add a topic to the section

Add a topic

  1. Click the title of the section you want to a add topic to.
  2. Click the Add New Topic button.
  3. Enter the topic heading and click the Add Topic button to save.

The new topic is added to the section.

topic added to knowledge base

Repeat these steps for each topic. Now we can add some content.

Note: It’s a good idea to create as much of your structure as possible before creating articles. In Snappy you can add an article to multiple sections. This improves find-ability of articles that are applicable to multiple sections.

Add an article

Knowledge base articles are referred to as questions in Snappy. But this is only one option. How you phrase your article headings is up to you.

Create an article (question)

  1. Navigate into a topic by clicking its title.
  2. Click the Add New Question button to open the Article/Question dialog.
  3. Enter the article/question title in the Question field.
  4. Add the content into the Answer field.
  5. Select the topics under which you want to display your article.
  6. Click the Add button.

add article/question dialog

Using markdown and HTML

You can use plain text, markdown, or HTML to create your content. Whichever format you use, Snappy will process it and apply it to the published product.

Adding images and attachments

Images can be added to the content of an article by drag and dropping the image into the content area of the article. If you want to change where the image is placed, just copy-paste the image ID to another location in the article content.

You can also append files to your article by drag and dropping them into the Attachments section of the Article dialog. Attached files appear as links at the bottom of the published article.

Saving as draft

You may not want to publish your article immediately after completing it. You can save the article as a draft by clicking the Published button to toggle it to Draft before clicking the Add button to save the article. Articles saved as draft are not published to your live knowledge base.

published draft

Articles saved as draft appear in the article list with “(Draft)” appended to their title.

article saved as draft

Previewing

Saved articles (draft or published) can be previewed.

  • Click the article title to open the View Article dialog. This dialog shows how your article will appear when published.
  • To open the published version of the article in the knowledge base, click the open in knowledge base (open article) button.

preview article dialog

Featuring an article/question

You can feature an article/question on the main page of your knowledge base by clicking the Star icon to the left of the article title in the articles list. When the star is yellow, the article is featured.

featured article


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