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. Building knowledge base internally helps distribute all company information among its employees.
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. So, 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”
Still unsure? No worries, we have created a couple of knowledge base article templates to help you out right away!
Title: Frequently Asked Questions
Table of contents:
Section 1 (e.g. General Questions)
Question 1 (e.g. What is Company’s Product X?)
Question 2 (e.g. What are the benefits of Product X?)
Section 2 (e.g. Features)
Question 1 (e.g. What features are included in the BASIC, PREMIUM, and PRO plans?)
Question 2 (e.g. What features does the trial include?)
Section 3 (e.g. Billing Questions)
Question 1 (e.g. What is the monthly fee?)
Question 2 (e.g. How do I upgrade/ downgrade my subscription plan?)
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.
How to [Name of Task]
Task: [Brief description of a task to be completed]
(e.g. “By following the instructions, you’ll be able to …”
“This article will help you set up your …”
“The following guide will provide you with instructions on how to install …”)
Prerequisites (if applicable): [Brief description of which products/features/customers the task does/doesn’t apply to]
Outcome: [Brief description of what should be possible once the task is completed]
Related articles with links
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.
Title: [Problem name]
Problem: [Brief description of the problem to be addressed]
Overview of possible solutions
Outcome: [Brief description of how to confirm the problem is solved]
Alternatives: [Explaining the next steps if the problem isn’t solved]
(e.g. “If none of these actions work, please call our customer support at (number) or start a live chat.”
“If none of the described steps helped, please send us an email at (email) or call our tech support at (number).”)
Related articles with links
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. Furthermore, they may also include some information about the features and benefits of the tool and explain why it’s worth purchasing.
Title: [Product/ Service]
[Brief introduction of tool]
[Description of tool]
[Final tips/Additional information to note about the tool]
Further Reading: Related articles with links
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. Moreover, the 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.)
Use case 1
Tips to use it this way:
Use case 2
Tips to use it this way:
Related articles with links
Ready to put our knowledge base article templates to use?
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A knowledge base is a storehouse of knowledge with the purpose of providing answers to questions and solving problems.
A knowledge base is an essential tool for customer service and support. It provides customers with searchable knowledge/information of solutions to common problems.
You can use the following types of articles in your knowledge base: FAQ articles help answer common customer service questions. Tip articles provide a quick tip for dealing with a frequent customer service issue. How-to articles provide step-by-step instructions for performing a specific task. Warning articles alert customers to potential dangers and problems.
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