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So, you’ve been tasked with writing a knowledge base (kb) article for your company, now what? It might seem like an intimidating task at first, but it doesn’t need to be too hard at all. With this blog, we will cover everything you need to do to write a kb article in just 6 easy steps.
But first, let’s talk about what exactly a kb article is and why you might need to write one. Kb articles are a pretty wide term that covers essentially all product-related information that a customer might need to be successful with your product or service. This might include:
The reason you might need to write a kb article is if your company sells products or services that aren’t 100% self-explanatory. Which, with today’s technology advancements, are most companies.
For example, if you’re selling a banana, you don't need to write a user guide on how to peel and eat it because most, hopefully all, people already understand this. But, when selling a more complex product, or anything that involves setup information, you’re going to need to teach your customers how to best use and succeed with your product. For example, if you sell security cameras, your customers need to know how to set them up, connect them to their phone, download the videos, and much more. That is where a knowledge base comes in.
Now, let’s talk all about how to write an educational and successful kb article.
Before tackling any writing, you first need to figure out what it is you are writing about. Is this kb article about setting up, is it troubleshooting a common problem, are you covering everything in one?
So, make sure you understand the exact process you need to cover in the article. For example, if this blog were a kb article, the “process” we are covering is writing a kb article.
Whatever you choose should be specific enough that a customer can find the info without reading a 100-page novel, but broad and common enough that it will help many customers. For example, this article isn’t about writing an article nor is it about how to write a kb article on connecting security camera devices to an iPhone. Balance is key.
After you’ve nailed down what exactly the kb article will be about, it’s time to do your research. If you’re going to write about connecting a camera to Bluetooth, you need to understand exactly how to do so. If you can’t understand it, then your readers won’t be able to either. This means rolling your sleeves up and diving into the product or service yourself to fully understand all of the nitty-gritty details.
After you’ve sufficiently gathered all of the information, it’s time to get inside your audience's head.
Now that you understand exactly how to use the product, you have to take a step back and pretend to forget everything you’ve just learned. Now I know, this may seem counterintuitive, however, it is absolutely critical in writing a successful kb article.
In order to properly educate customers, you have to speak a language they understand. And you have to bring yourself back to a beginner’s level. Try these three simple steps:
Now that you understand who your audience is, what they know, and what they need to learn, it’s time to start drafting out the actual structure for your article.
Finally, time to get into the actual article! The best way to tackle writing anything is to start with a solid plan. If you can get your article structure together, the writing will be a breeze.
But how do I build a kb article outline?
Yes, actually writing the article isn’t until the fourth step. But for good reason. Now, you understand your audience, thoroughly know what you need to explain, and have your entire article and necessary talking points planned out. Because we’re so prepared, writing will be a breeze.
However, there are still some important things you should keep in mind when transforming your notes into actual copy that customers will understand.
Now, for the fun part! Most of your customers are probably visual learners and will understand your kb article better if they can visually see what you are talking about. Unlike a blog post, kb article images are used for educational purposes, not flare.
Examples of media you might include in a kb article:
For each of these, a little editing can go a long way. Let’s say you are discussing the three steps to turning Bluetooth on from your iPhone. If step number two is to click on the “Bluetooth” button under the settings app, then in your screenshot, you could add a small red circle or arrow highlighting where this button is on screen. Sometimes when customers are unfamiliar with a new process, these types of callouts can help them find their answers quickly and easily.
But, how do I decide where I need to add visuals?
The best rule of thumb here is to add them to every place that makes sense. When it comes to visuals, the more the merrier, as long as they are useful and informative. If you want to include a screenshot of every single step a user must take, great. I’m sure many customers will find this useful. However, stray away from adding in a photo of your dog. While it may be adorable, your customers are just looking for answers right now.
If you’d rather stick to minimum images, read through your article, pick a couple of complex areas that could really use further information, and start there.
Good news, the final step is the easiest one! Now that you’ve got a completed article filled with visuals and carefully-crafted information, the last thing to do is ensure customers can find all of your other content in case they come up with more questions while reading.
If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this: Kb articles are not as hard as they seem. Don’t be intimidated by the complex details and tech language, because jargon is actually the opposite of what you should be writing. Keep it simple, stick to the facts, and your customers will be pleased.
Now, keep learning more about knowledge base articles with our blogs on elements of a great kb article plus examples, why your customers need kb articles, and Planning a brand new technical documentation kb from scratch - everything you need to know
Explore the stages of our product tour and the self-service solutions we provide to see how our diverse applications can work for you.
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