11 min read
A knowledge base (kb) article is like your customer’s third date with your company. They’ve gotten to know you and what you sell, they’re interested and even purchased something, but now, things are getting serious. Now, your customer has questions and wants to learn more about what you offer.
Kb articles are designed to guide customers through any process and educate them about all of your products, features, and services. This empowers people to learn and solve problems on their own, which creates more independent and successful customers (AKA a fourth date).
Writing great kb articles is what determines whether or not your customers will reap all of the benefits from their purchase so they are likely to repurchase and recommend. If they are hard to find, hard to read, or hard to understand, readers will not engage with the content and give up. There are tons of key elements that should be included in your kb article and we will dive into each below!
The first element involved in creating a successful kb article is making it easy to find. If you’ve written an incredible article but your customers can’t find it, it will be useless.
So what improves kb article discoverability?
A great example of a company with easy-to-find kb articles is PayPal. In the image below, you can see their help center includes guided navigation options, common questions, filtering, helpful links, and search. Basically, they are covering every route a customer may want to take in order to find content.
Plus, at the bottom of each article, they include tons of options to find additional help. In the image below, you will see they include helpful article links, community posts, the community forum, resolution center, and contact options. This way, if the article didn’t answer a customer’s question, they can easily find the resource that will.
The next key element involved in creating a great kb article is how easy it is to read and scan. Customers are looking for quick, instant answers to their questions. This means, more often than not, they will not read the whole article but rather, scan it briefly until they find the sections they need.
What makes an article easy to read or scan?
Using the example below, which one do you think is easier to scan and find answers?
A great example of kb articles designed for easy scanning is Mailchimp. In the example below, you will notice that on the left side of all of their kb articles is their version of a table of contents, called “Things To Know.” This section easily lets customers see the exact items covered in the article as well as navigate to them by clicking. Plus, it remains on the side of the article the entire time they read in case they want to navigate back and forth between sections.
Now your customers have easily found the right article and scanned through it to locate the section they need. The next important factor is ensuring that they can actually understand what it is they are reading. This can be hard to do, especially when discussing complex processes that are more technical and advanced.
Here are a few ways you can make your writing easier to understand:
In the example below, you will see that Canva uses consistent and easy-to-recognize icons in each of their steps throughout their kb articles so customers can easily follow along as they read. This is also visually engaging and helps users locate where they should click on the screen.
As a bonus, notice the yellow box at the bottom calling out important information. This helps customers easily find answers to their most common questions.
Another way to make your content easier to read is by showing, rather than telling. Especially when discussing more complex processes or advanced tutorials, visual demonstrations can be a huge help. Not to mention, using plenty of images can also break up your body of text to appear more appealing and easier to digest. Plus, you might even find that you can replace some of your text with visuals, which is always a plus.
What type of visuals should I include in a kb article?
A great example of a help center that uses ample, educational visuals is Asana. In the image below, you will se that not only are they including a screenshot but it is labeled with numbered callouts that associate with the steps a user must take on-screen.
Plus, notice the green tips at the bottom that’s inside of a box so readers can easily locate the information.
The final key element to creating a great kb article is letting your brand’s voice shine. While having a perfect article that contains all of the elements we’ve discussed so far is great, it’s truly your brand that will set it apart. This is how you make your content memorable and convince customers to repurchase and recommend.
But how can I include my brand’s voice while focusing on such informative content without adding unnecessary “fluff?”
Slack’s help center is notorious for having a great personality. Not only does it make it stand out as being unique, but it also makes the entire experience more enjoyable. Customers' are happy to return and find any of their answers. Plus, it gets people in their industry talking and spreading the word, increasing their brand awareness. And they do this with just a few simple, easy tweaks. In the image below, you’ll notice their help center utilizes very memorable colors and images unique to their service. Even the navigation options have a unified style and are easy to recognize.
Below, you will notice that they use a unified set of iconography across their help center, throughout both the navigation and the articles. The hint of color and familiarity adds to their friendly brand. If you have a moment, read through their article snippet below to take a peek at the personable tone, usage of second-person narration, and helpful examples they include in their writing. Together, all of these small details help create a well-rounded brand experience across their kb articles.
In this blog, we covered a lot of elements that work together to create a great knowledge base article. From find-ability and readability to helpful visuals and brand voice, a lot is at play when crafting content that readers feel excited to learn from.
It may sound like a lot to keep in mind, so if you’re unsure where to even start, learn about the 6 easy steps to writing a kb article next.
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