Sometimes written as knowledgebase, a KB promotes the collection, organization, and retrieval of knowledge, which is commonly organized by subject-problem-solution around a specific topic or product. KB content can be accessed by internal users, customers, or a mix of both depending on how KB permissions are set up.
A KB can be a standalone repository, but is usually integrated into software such as a Knowledge Management System (KMS), Content Management System (CMS), or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
Why you need a knowledge base
The benefits of a KB apply to both the company and users:
- Have one version of the truth, instead of possibly dated or conflicting versions of information in different silos.
- Increase productivity and efficiency by providing a tool that allows people (individual, groups, teams) to access information quickly.
- Reduce support costs by capturing knowledge and best practices for use by agents and customers.
- Increase customer satisfaction because most users prefer to have a self-service option to solve their own problems.
- Capture data to inform priorities and product improvements that will impact the most users.
Knowledge base functionality
A complete KB system includes a few essential components:
- Authoring capability to create KB articles, including workflow functionality
- Meta data options to tag and organize KB articles
- Search and browse functions to find the published content
- Measurement or analytics tools, including both qualitative (content feedback) and quantitative (ratings, usage stats) data
Use MindTouch for your knowledge base
MindTouch offers all the functionality of a traditional knowledge base with an enhanced structure that makes it a next-gen repository for all of your user manuals, product documents and help content.
Knowledge bases traditionally organize content into a flat hierarchy. MindTouch offers all the functionality of a traditional knowledge base with an enhanced structure that makes it a next-gen repository for all of your user manuals, product documents and help content.
Effectively using a knowledge base
The MindTouch approach positively impacts the various principles of a good user experience:
- Findability - How easy is it for you to find the exact topic you're looking for?
- Navigation - How easy is it for you to traverse the information from within the knowledge base to get the thing you're looking for?
- Digestibility - Once you've found what you're looking for, how engaging is the topic you're reading. Does it sufficiently educate you?
- Clarity - Are you clearly laying out the intention of the subject you're addressing and laying out the steps to completion?
- Performance - Is the experience nimble? Can the consumer quickly traverse the assets within the knowledge base?
- Delight - Are you providing an experience that your consumers actually want to engage with?
When taking on the task of developing your knowledge base, the above principles should be considered as a foundation.
Your user should easily find and access the information needed to accomplish their individual objective.
It starts with organic search (Google). It’s no longer good enough for the answer to surface on page one of search engine results pages (SERPs). Consumers expect to be taken to the exact answer they are looking for. This often means only looking at the result at the very top of the first page. Prime real estate within the Google search engine is considered to be the Rich Snippet, also called Position Zero. Through Google's PageRank™ algorithm, content that is considered authoritative and is a direct answer to the question is boosted to the top of the search result as Position Zero.
How is a traditional knowledge base limited for Findability?
There seems to be a common theory across most businesses that the information you have in your knowledge base needs to be protected or behind a login, as it's proprietary and should not be seen by outsiders or competitors. This is a mistake and directly affects the findability of your information. Why? Because when your content is behind a login, it will not be accessible through organic search. This becomes a problem for most companies from a marketing perspective because anyone who might be interested in using their products find limited information or more information from competitors or third parties.
For those companies that decide to deploy a public-facing knowledge base using traditional technologies, they run into the issue of a poor organic search experience. This is because, regardless of the fact that your content is being indexed by search engines, traditional knowledge base technologies are not built with SEO in mind.
Most deployments of a traditional knowledge base will not provide a solid organic search experience, so consumers are left with having to navigate third party documentation to get the answers they need. You lose control when this happens. You can't control if a third party is informing the consumer about how to use your product or if they're attempting to redirect the consumer to a competitor.
How does MindTouch handle Findability?
MindTouch is unique in its approach to your content by how content can be structured in the system. Content can be segmented into topic-specific hierarchies of information that drive the consumer to the exact subject or microcontent they're looking for. MindTouch is built top-to-bottom with SEO in mind. When you build out your content using the MindTouch prescribed structure, driving users to microcontent, it directly affects the organic search experience. Search engines easily crawl, identify, and classify the information in your site that is authoritative to a specific topic which, over time, will boost the microcontent high on SERPs, often to Position Zero.
MindTouch also offers the ability to then extend this authoritative content from within your knowledge base, through Touchpoints, outwardly across all channels where you engage with your consumers. This includes your primary marketing website, e-commerce, communities, etc. - anywhere you engage with prospects or customers has the ability to contain a MindTouch Touchpoint where your authoritative content provides answers in a way that is contextually relevant. Another benefit of using Touchpoints is an additional SEO boost in authority to your content.
The end result is that when a consumer searches for something through organic search, iyour authoritative and branded content populates the top results rather than your competitors or third parties that you cannot control.
Today's consumer is impatient. They want the effort it takes to get to the information they need to be minimal from within the knowledge base. To that end, you need to ensure to implement a very clear and expected path to the needed information. This is achieved through the structuring of your information.
Are you tailoring the experience to your various products? Are you tailoring the experience to the persona that you are informing? A very clear, contextually-relevant path to the desired information and one that includes multiple options for how this information can be navigated to is paramount here.
How is today's traditional knowledge base limited for Navigation?
Unfortunately, most knowledge base technologies do not allow for your content to be broken down into very topic-specific hierarchies. Most knowledge bases will only allow for the consumer to click one or two levels down into a specific hierarchy where they are then presented a massive bucket of information that may or may not be relevant to each other. This is a terrible experience for consumers.
Statistics show that most consumers are more likely to abandon the experience altogether rather than sift through a massive list that might not even contain the topic they need to learn about. This will lead to frustration or anger and will negatively impact your relationship with your consumer.
How does MindTouch handle Navigation?
MindTouch was originally built specifically to address the navigation limitation. Our answer to this limitation is in the freedom that our content creators have with constructing their documentation structures. Following the MindTouch prescribed structure, content creators have the ability to provide an experience to consumers that drives them down to a very specific and topic-driven cluster of information. Additionally, once the consumer is driven to the specific topic they were looking for, they are presented with related content. That content will drive them down another, yet very relevant, learning path to the specific topic which promotes further education. This idea of having to sift through massive buckets of non-related information is alleviated through the MindTouch approach.
Content is king in our world... and yet context is just as important. Once the consumer has been taken to the specific piece of information they're looking for, it is expected that the information will be clearly organized in a way that is contextually-relevant to whatever the task is. Content needs to be broken up because it is much easier for the mind to digest smaller pieces of information. This also connects to the trend that in the modern digital world, humans are now thinking and acting in Micro-Moments.
For example, if the information being conveyed is narrative in nature, it should be clearly broken up with headers and visual assets (images and videos) that reinforce whatever you intend your consumer to get out of reading that information. Videos and images are a great addition because if you are thinking about user experience, it's easier to absorb content if you can experience it to some degree. Many people are visual learners, as well. A video asset will break up all the black and white. This same principle extends into clarity.
How is a traditional knowledge base limited for Digestibility?
This is another limitation that a traditional knowledge base has with your freedom to structure content down to microcontent. You simply can't do it. At best, you'll be able to click two levels down and then you're presented with a bucket of numerous, and in many cases, not related articles that are a headache to traverse through.
Additionally, traditional knowledge bases don't make it easy for content creators to host visual assets like videos and images on the article. The difficulty involved with hosting these visual assets leads to content creators just opting out of including the asset and providing only what is necessary to get the information across. You're not doing the consumer any favors by not allowing them to engage with your content.
How does MindTouch handle Digestibility?
MindTouch is built with ease-of-use in mind for content creators. There is a robust, yet easy-to-use, WYSIWYG Editor built natively into the system that makes it easy to host visual assets like videos and images in your articles. Making this process easy encourages content creators to include these assets into their strategy. What does that do for the consumer? They get a rich and engaging experience that encourages them to internalize the information you're providing them and a by-product of this experience is a deep understanding of the topics you're educating them on.
This one is pretty simple yet it's too often overlooked. Have you clearly expressed the intent of the information being passed to the consumer? After stating your intent, have you clearly laid out the steps that your consumer needs to take to achieve their objective? The article should tell a story. It should keep them engaged long enough to provide them the value they're looking for and the answers they need.
How is a traditional knowledge base limited for Clarity?
This goes back to ease-of-use and your traditional knowledge base's limitations. Most knowledge base technology does not make it easy for the content creator to construct articles in a way that clearly guides the consumer down a path of learning. If it's hard to do, the content creator will be forced to construct the information in a way that might be detrimental to the consumer experience.
How does MindTouch handle Clarity?
MindTouch makes constructing your documentation easy. The MindTouch editor is easy-to-use and intuitive and out-of-box templates organize your content in a logical manner. You have complete freedom to tell the story your consumer needs to hear. In addition to that, related articles drive the consumer down related paths that further enhance their understanding of the topic you're conveying to them.
The knowledge base experience should be nimble. Consumer should be able to go from one article to the next with minimal load times. Fast. Fast. Fast. Visual assets like images and videos should load quickly so the consumer can quickly get what they need and move on to being productive. This can only be achieved if you have a system that is specifically built for performance with quick access to information in mind. Surprisingly, this is also something that is often overlooked.
How is a traditional knowledge base limited for Performance?
Most traditional knowledge bases aren't built for performance because more often than not, they began as an internal or employee-facing experience tailored to someone like a Support Agent who simply needs to find a quick answer to a question. An internal knowledge base environment is not required to have performance built in. In most cases, it won't be public-facing to your customer and freely accessible over the web so, again, performance becomes an after-thought. When you decide to use this same technology to host public-facing information, the environment does not scale well and quickly becomes unmanageable.
How does MindTouch handle Performance?
MindTouch is built for performance. That's because we're so much more than a knowledge base. Therefore, a knowledge base powered by MindTouch evolves into something more. It will house all resources spread across every department within your organization that will engage and provide value to your customer base. We've made it so that, no matter how large the environment becomes or how much information needs to be housed there, performance will never be an issue. The consumer is provided a nimble experience that gets them quickly to exactly what they need, so they can continue with their day.