5 Tips for Perfect Knowledge Base Articles

By Monica Kohn   |   August 24, 2020
Knowledge Base Articles
We employ scribbled notes, post-it reminders, and multiple handwritten to-do lists, some of them months or even years old. Digitally, we save hundreds of bookmarks or have dozens of browser tabs open to pages we want to quickly refer to. Anyone who’s tried to get all their personal information organized and accessible at a moment’s notice knows how challenging (and unproductive) it can be.

Producing knowledge base content that quickly gives customers the information they need is no less challenging. But it isn’t as complicated as many people think. Creating, curating, and sharing effective knowledge base articles is easier to do when you have the right guidance and tools.

Knowledge Base Article Best Practices

A knowledge base is a terrific way to give your customers quick solutions and reduce inefficient call center performance. A poorly-designed knowledge base, however, can cause more problems than it solves by supplying your agents and customers with confusing pages or a time-consuming navigation system. What’s meant to help your team and customers most ends up doing more harm than good.

If you want to empower customers with informative, engaging, and clear content, these best practices can work wonders.

1) Don’t Assume

Does your knowledge base give customers everything they need? People may know less than you think they do. It’s important to cater to different kinds and levels of learners. When possible, structure articles to include step-by-step instructions at the top for beginners. More experienced users can simply skim past them to get to the information they need. If one article doesn’t work for both user types, consider splitting the information into multiple articles and linking them to the original one.

2) Employ Anchor Links

If you’re linking between articles, use descriptive, relevant keywords for the anchor text. Avoid using text like “click here” or ones that include a URL (.com) in it. Anchor links are particularly useful in lengthy articles so people can click on and jump to the exact information they’re looking for.

3) Make Content Skimmable and Easy to Read

It’s predicted that by 2025, nearly three out of four people will use just their smartphones to access the internet. Take a good look at the style and appearance of your article content. Is it mobile friendly? From a formatting POV, big blocks of text should be broken up into small paragraphs. Generous use of bullets, numbered lists, and callouts make content extremely skimmable.

Short and sweet is also good advice for knowledge base articles. People come to a support site because they need help now. Articles should be understandable in one read; avoid complex terms and technical jargon when simpler words will do the job just as well. Use call-outs (short one-liners) to add detail to a particularly important point.

Titles should be kept simple, too. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and choose titles that address their pain points. Two good sources for titles are recent support tickets and customer search terms, which can be found in your data analytics.

Finally, images, GIFs, and explainer videos are powerful ways to reinforce points. They also help break up paragraphs of text and keep readers engaged.

4) Organize Articles Logically

Treat each article like a mini onboarding process. For instance, start out by using simple words to describe the problem, and then use an example to show customers what to do to solve it. Remember, a solution article is written to help people, not convince or sell them on something. Keep instructions feature-focused, not benefit-focused.

5) Use Strategic Linking

Make articles that adapt to the reader’s workflow. Of course, steps should be in chronological order. Give people the easiest solutions first as they’re often what works best. Keep things moving by avoiding giving alternatives within the content. Use a “related articles” section at the bottom of the article instead.

Better Knowledge Base Articles Improve Everyone’s Life

As Jim Iyoob, chief customer officer at Etech Global Services perfectly put its, “Technology has literally placed the power in the consumer’s hands.” Today’s customers, he says, expect “a prompt response and fast service from any business.”

One of the core advantages of a knowledge base system is its 24/7 availability. Users can access information when and where they need it and from any device. Well-written knowledge base articles allow customers and agents alike to quickly find the answers they need. The result? More engaged employees, happier customers, and positive benefits to your bottom line.