We all know the old axiom “knowledge is power.” And though it’s true, there’s a caveat: In order to unlock the power of any knowledge, people first need access to it.
Access to knowledge is an issue many businesses face. They have information to share with customers, but they don’t always have an effective means by which to share it. Luckily, there’s a tool that addresses that very issue: knowledge base software.
Though many knowledge base tools share similarities, some are better suited for different applications than others. Below, we cover 11 knowledge base software options to consider, listing where each tool excels the most.
This is chapter eight in our Ultimate Guide to Using a Knowledge Base for Self-Service Support. When you're ready, check out the other chapters:
- Chapter 1 – Knowledge Base 101: Definition, Types, and Benefits
- Chapter 2 – Quick Start Guide to Creating a Knowledge Base
- Chapter 3 – Knowledge Base Design Tips for Better Self-Service Support
- Chapter 4 – Incredible Knowledge Base Examples That Get It Right
- Chapter 5 – Tips & Templates for Writing Great Knowledge Base Articles
- Chapter 6 – Creating Knowledge Base Videos: Tips, Tools, and Examples
- Chapter 7 – Simple Knowledge Base SEO Tips Anyone Can Follow
- Chapter 8 – The Best Knowledge Base Software + How to Choose One
- Chapter 9 – Actionable Knowledge Base Metrics to Start Tracking Today
- Chapter 10 – Knowledge Base Tips for a Better Customer Experience
- Chapter 11 – How to Revamp Your Knowledge Base Architecture
What is knowledge base software?
Knowledge base software, also commonly referred to as help center software, is a tool that helps you create, organize, and manage self-service content for an audience. Knowledge bases typically house frequently asked questions (FAQs), video tutorials, and how-to articles.
Essentially, a knowledge base lets you provide helpful troubleshooting content for your customers and team members so they can help themselves on their own time and without having to reach out to other employees or your support agents.
One important distinction to note when it comes to knowledge base software is the difference between internal and external knowledge bases. Internal knowledge bases generally require login credentials to access information, while external help centers are customer facing and written for the public.
The best knowledge base software for customer support
The tools below are perfect for helping you create a customer-facing knowledge base that reduces the burden on your support team by letting your customers self-service to get answers on their own.
1. Help Scout
Best combined help desk and knowledge base software for startups.
Help Scout is a complete customer service platform, and one part of the platform is our knowledge base software: Docs. Docs is flexible, easy-to-use knowledge base software that lets you create beautiful knowledge base articles in minutes using a text editor that offers multiple formatting options in both WYSIWYG and HTML.
You can quickly upload images and videos to articles to make content even better, and you also get access to Beacon. With Beacon, you’re able to embed a chat-style widget on any page of your site or app so visitors have direct access to your knowledge base library without ever having to click away from the page they’re on.
Docs also integrates seamlessly with our shared inbox. Agents can share links to knowledge base content directly in customer email conversations without needing to do any copying and pasting, which reduces response times and hassle.
Finally, Docs is built for SEO, making it easy for your team to create content that ranks highly in Google’s search engine so your customers can find the answers they need wherever they look.
Best of all, when you sign up for Help Scout, you get access to the entire customer support platform for about the same cost as most standalone knowledge base software — and often at an even lower cost.
Price: Starting at $20 per user/month.
Best knowledge base software for creating a self-service portal.
If you’re looking for standalone knowledge base software, Document360 could be a good option. They have a user-friendly interface and search capabilities, and you’re able to create both internal and external knowledge bases using their tool.
Document360 also offers some more advanced features like localization, IP address restriction for security, and in-depth analytics. However, they charge per project (a project is essentially one knowledge base) per month, and the base rate is quite high, so it might not be a viable option for small businesses.
Price: Starting at $49 per project/month (two users included).
Best standalone self-service knowledge base software.
HelpJuice is a standalone knowledge base software product that focuses heavily on design and collaboration tools. Through their editor you’re able to edit typeface, layout, and colors to match your brand aesthetic.
HelpJuice also allows multiple people to collaborate on articles. You’re also able to see past versions and revisions to articles to stay up-to-date on the latest changes. HelpJuice also boasts a number of integrations, making your knowledge base more powerful.
Price: Starting at $120 per month for four users.
Best knowledge base software for enterprise companies.
Zendesk is help desk software that includes a knowledge base tool. Its knowledge base uses a WYSIWYG style editor, making article creation simple, and you’re also able to collect customer feedback directly from an article.
Zendesk also offers some collaboration features that allow multiple people to work on an article together. However, to get access to a lot of their advanced knowledge base features, you do have to be on an enterprise plan, which is quite expensive.
Price: Starting at $49 per agent/month.
Help Scout vs. Zendesk
Customers rank Help Scout's support tools higher than Zendesk in nearly every category — and it's just a fraction of the price.Compare side-by-side
Best knowledge base software for building community forums.
Insided is a community platform that lets your customers connect with one another. Access to that collective knowledge can help reduce incoming requests for your team, and it also gives customers another channel to access when they have questions.
With Insided you can also build out a standard knowledge base and do some on-page support using their embeddable widget. Insided does have somewhat limited integrations at the moment, however, meaning it might not connect to your other support tools, preventing a seamless customer experience.
Price: Contact for pricing.
6. Wix Answers
Best knowledge management software for Wix users.
Wix Answers was built to assist and provide knowledge to small- to medium-sized businesses. With Wix Answers, you can create help widgets and embed them anywhere inside your product.
One interesting feature is the ability to help customers describe their issues with custom fields and predefined options that give support reps the information they need to provide quick answers.
However, if you’re looking for more advanced features, things can add up quickly since options like live chat and a ticketing system are only offered on higher-tier plans.
Price: Starts at $24/user per month.
The best knowledge base software for internal knowledge management
In addition to having a customer-facing knowledge base for self service, it’s also helpful for support teams to maintain an internal knowledge base for employee onboarding, collecting company knowledge, and content management.
The following tools will help you build a private knowledge base for your team to use.
Best knowledge base system for multi-team use.
Guru is an internal knowledge management solution that allows you to store all your company information. Whether it’s battle cards for your sales team or product roadmaps for engineering, you can store it all in Guru.
They also offer a browser extension, making accessing stored information that much easier, and a Slack integration that sends team members real-time notifications when articles they own or follow are updated — or when they’re tagged in a knowledge base article.
Price: Starting at $5 per user/month.
Best knowledge management system for SaaS companies.
One of the leaders for internal knowledge bases is Notion. Their core benefit is how flexible the tool is: You can make kanban boards, checklists, and text documents. You can also assign tasks to other users and set due dates for tasks. It’s basically an internal wiki plus a project management tool.
Notion does offer a free plan, but it’s only for personal use. If you want to have multiple collaborators (which is where their value really shines), you have to be on their team or enterprise plans.
Price: Starting at $0 per month.
Best knowledge base solution for companies using Jira.
Confluence is very similar in look and function to Notion. They’re also most focused on internal use and project management. To help make life easier, they have an extensive library of page templates so you can get started quickly.
You’re also able to create team spaces to keep things organized and set permissions for different articles. Since it’s an Atlassian product, Confluence also integrates seamlessly with their other products like Jira and Trello.
Price: Starting at $0 per month (free plan is limited to 10 or fewer users).
Best knowledge base platform for companies that prefer to create video content.
Bloomfire is an internal knowledge-sharing platform designed to assist employees in quickly finding the information they need. A unique feature of its software is its AI-powered search engine that can transcribe videos.
You can also create custom questions and answers, then turn both into searchable content that can be liked and shared by other users, mimicking a type of social media.
Price: Starts at $25/user per month.
Best knowledge base software solution for microlearning.
Whatfix focuses on the digestibility of its content by breaking down topics into short-form, stand-alone units. It also lets you aggregate your help center by displaying your documentation as links in a self-help widget. The content that’s available can change depending on which page you access self help from.
For example, if you have your help content in Freshdesk and your application is Microsoft Teams, the Freshdesk articles can be shown as links in the “Self Help” tab that appears in Microsoft Teams.
Price: Contact Whatfix for customized pricing.
How to choose the right knowledge base software
Which knowledge base software is best? It depends on the software environment you are in, the capabilities you need (or want), and the resources you have available. Here are some key questions to help you narrow down the options:
- Do you need just one knowledge base, or do you need several separate ones? How does the tool handle multiple knowledge bases?
- How many people will be authoring or updating content?
- Can the knowledge base software display content in-app? Or will customers need to click through to another page?
- Can the design of the knowledge base pages be customized, and what skills will you need to do it?
- How does the search function work?
- What kind of reporting does the knowledge base software include?
When you have a shortlist you are considering, be sure to spend some time using the company’s own knowledge base (and contacting their support team). They should be the best example of their own capabilities!
Here are a few additional things to consider.
Measuring value is asking the question: Is this worth what I’m paying for it?
For example, $300 may sound like a lot for a pair of pants, but what if they came with a guarantee to be tailored to fit you perfectly and replaced for the rest of your life any time you needed it? All of a sudden, $300 doesn’t sound so bad.
With knowledge base software, comparing tools based on value instead of cost can make things a lot clearer. For example, two options might have the same cost, but if one gives you access to other tools along with knowledge base capabilities, it probably holds a lot more value, making it the better choice.
There are a couple of ways to think about flexibility.
First, you can consider how many separate functions a tool can perform. With knowledge base software, you might think about whether it’s useful for both internal and external knowledge bases. You could also think about how well it integrates with other tools you might use in conjunction with it.
Second, you can consider how well a tool will grow with you and your needs as time goes on — there should be a balance between buying for now and for the future.
If you’re a team of five, buying for the possible future of being a team of 500 may not be pragmatic. But buying a tool that can cover your needs for the next 12-18 months is probably a smart move.
Ease of use
The simple truth of any software is this: If it’s hard to use, no one is going to use it. That applies to both those using it internally and those using it externally.
With knowledge base software, you need to consider the experience of creating and maintaining a piece of content as well as the experience of finding and interacting with content as a customer.
The only way to really know how easy or difficult something is to use is by actually using it. After you’ve made a shortlist of options, do a trial of each. Getting hands-on experience with a product will give you way more insight than any demo ever could.
You should also ask to see existing examples of knowledge bases created using their software. That way you can get a better idea of how a customer would experience interacting with the product, too.
Finding the right solution
Investing in a new tool is always a big decision. It takes time, money, and energy, so there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. Make sure you define your needs and goals upfront. As you learn more about different products, they may shift some, so you need to be a bit flexible, too.
When you’re reviewing options, be critical, get feedback from others, and take your time. It may feel overwhelming at times, but as long as you have a solid game plan, we’re confident you’ll make the right choice.