Design Your Knowledge Base Like A Product

To create a great knowledge base, support teams need to treat their knowledge bases in the same way product teams treat products.

Product teams leverage UX resources, roadmaps and customer interviews to build great products. In the same way, customer support teams have the opportunity to treat their knowledge bases like products by creating great content, focusing on design, making data-driven decisions, and remembering the mission of their team: to help customers.

Here are four ways we at Lucid have designed our knowledge base like we would a product.

4 approaches for designing your knowledge base like a product

1. Write clear, concise, digestible content

Customers come to your knowledge base when they have a question about how to use your product. They want answers. Give them the answers they seek by writing clear, concise, and easily digestible content.

Take time to ensure your documentation is up to date with the latest UI changes and that the steps outlined actually match what your customer will see in the product. Keep it simple: Give people the answers they need, and get them back into the product as quickly as possible.

At Lucid, when we began to invest heavily in our knowledge base, we found that much of our content was out of date. Many articles had incorrect information, contained typos, or were simply poorly written. Before we began updating anything else, we invested time updating these articles to ensure the content was clear, concise and correct.

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We also designed a new article layout so articles were organized within accordions, allowing customers to select the content most relevant to their question without having to read through an entire article. These changes increased bounce rates on our article pages (a good thing — more on this soon!), while decreasing time on the page, meaning the changes helped people quickly get the right answers to their questions.

2. Focus on design

Like any other product, the design of your knowledge base is incredibly important. Customers want answers to their questions quickly, but customer interactions within your knowledge base also present opportunities to thrill them with great design.

For example, add a prominent search feature to allow customers to easily search for relevant articles. Additionally, you can add links to your most popular content to the home page of your knowledge base to allow people to access important content without ever leaving the home page.

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As we redesigned our knowledge base, we realized that while our content was better, it didn’t answer every single question customers had. To help people more effectively, we needed to create a simple way for them to contact our support team from our knowledge base. After researching great designs for “Contact Us” pages, the team implemented a sleek, easy-to-use page that directed customers to different teams based on their question. Not only was the design of the new page great for customers, it helped our team provide better responses, because questions were routed to the team who could best answer them. This design improved the customer experience with our “Contact Us” page and improved our team’s experience in dealing with the questions, leading to faster, better answers for our customers.

3. Make data-driven decisions

Data should drive every aspect of your knowledge base, from the content you write, to how to design your help pages, to how you identify potential improvements. Digging into the reports that your knowledge base software provides will allow you to understand how customers interact with your knowledge base. In turn, that data will help you make better decisions about how to improve your knowledge base to better serve customers.

We came to understand, after much trial and error, that bounce rates can mean different things on different page types. A high bounce rate on your knowledge base’s home page is bad, because it means people leave before interacting with anything, indicating that they didn’t find the home page helpful enough to stick around. That said, the same high bounce rate on an article page is good, as that indicates that people are able to find answers to their questions in the article before leaving the site to go back to the product.

Once we understood bounce rates and how to make sense of the numbers, we were able to drop the bounce rate of our knowledge base home page by 14%, by adding a “Popular Content” accordion to our home page that provides quick links to our most popular articles.

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Metrics such as page views, bounce rates, and time on page can tell intricate stories of customer engagement. Take time to deeply understand this data, then make decisions based on your understanding. Data can act as a key to optimize user flows and help people access your content more easily.

4. Remember your goal: to help customers

At the end of the day, the goal of your knowledge base is to help your customers. Use these questions as guiding lights when making decisions about your knowledge base:

  • Does this help customers?
  • Will this change answer the customer’s question quickly?
  • Can customers get back to the product easily after finding their answer?

If a new header or article layout doesn’t help customers, then it doesn’t make sense to implement it. If it passes this base test, then test it further, watch how it impacts key metrics, and iterate to improve the feature.

The key to creating a great knowledge base is simple: Treat it like a product! Write great content, focus on design, make data-driven decisions, and, above all else, help customers use your product more effectively. Treating your knowledge base as a key product for your company enables you to create great customer experiences and build a strong, customer-driven product.

Mitchell Cox
Mitchell Cox

Mitchell has worn a number of different hats at Lucid, working on both the Customer Operations and Product teams. He coaches CrossFit and enjoys Utah’s beautiful outdoors with his gorgeous wife. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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