The speed and ease with which a customer is able to find a solution to their problem is all part of a great customer experience.
A knowledge base is one of many self-service tools you can offer your customers so they can find answers for themselves without asking for help and waiting for your reply. Think of the last time you assembled furniture — sure, we’ve all run into a set of unhelpful instructions before, but the scarier alternative is calling in and listening to “Now attach widget G to slot Z” for two hours straight. Sometimes the best solution is one that helps you help yourself.
From top to bottom, a knowledge base should be educational, motivational and organized. It must answer common questions efficiently to save customers time and confusion. Most of all, a knowledge base should build upon itself to coalesce into an educational archive that’s accessible and practical.
As a point of inspiration, some years ago Wistia shared this fascinating graph around their own support department’s numbers. Without sacrificing service quality, their Learning Center allowed a support team of three (at the time) to achieve some heroic numbers.
If it all sounds overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve previously explored how to write a practical and useful knowledge base article, and here are 10 stellar knowledge bases that are worthy of studying and emulating.
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10 great knowledge base examples
Many knowledge bases start off with a giant search bar in the middle of the page. What makes Asana different is that they understand their three most important types of inquiries: the basics, the multiple functionalities, and leadership tips on using their product effectively. In short, it’s a very useful guide.
When you click on the basics, this is what their menu looks like:
This is by far one of the most comprehensive, well-designed knowledge bases we've seen. Knowledge bases — especially for a tool like Asana — are invaluable to onboarding new customers and users; in fact, they could serve as a warm and friendly first impression. Check out Asana’s knowledge base for yourself.
A knowledge base gives your customers access to instant answers. Check out Docs from Help Scout.
When designing a knowledge base, it’s important to envision how and where a customer might need it. For train ticket provider Loco2, that may be when a customer is at a train station, confused and lost, desperately looking for a solution.
Very clear and simple navigation is vital in that case, but what makes their knowledge base even better is how their articles are designed. Here’s an example:
The “In This Article” section tells customers what to expect instead of making them search for it. A simple table of contents within the content is invaluable to directing customers and providing everything needed to answer their questions.
For a service like Dropbox, it makes sense to pull out the most common issues right on the main page. The use of illustrations helps reinforce their friendliness — comforting for people in need of help.
After the featured articles, which point customers to help with the most common use cases and issues, Dropbox uses their help center to highlight ways to get more value from Dropbox.
The bottom section promotes Dropbox features that customers who use basic folder syncing may never have seen. If you’re confident that your help will resolve the problem your customer is facing, then using the help pages to deepen customer engagement is a powerful tool.
When I came across Yoast’s knowledge base, I fell in love with how they organized an abundance of content.
For a service like Yoast, it’s practical to create entirely separate categories for all the services and functionalities that they work with. It’s not practical to have a FAQ here because they have too many different services and functions for compiling a short list of the most asked questions.
Instead, making each functionality or service a category with its own content creates an effortless user experience. Imagine if they didn’t have those categories and only relied on a giant search bar. Sure, the search would eventually lead you to the answer, but it may take a great deal of sorting through lots of information, and landing on something that seems like the solution but isn’t only adds to the frustration.
Outside of the software world, many companies support an enormously varied customer base. Dyson’s help site covers their range of home appliances, customized to the visitor’s country.
For physical and distinctively designed products, using product photos to help customers find the right section is a big time saver. Customers can click their way through photos to the page that has the information they need.
They also offer a direct serial number lookup option, which is a handy shortcut for people in a hurry.
Ridesharing service Lyft published a “Tips” sectionaimed at helping their drivers create better customer experiences. It’s separate from their customer and driver help center, which they link to prominently at the top of the knowledge base.
The Tips section is almost magazine-like in it’s visual format, a scannable layout that is built for browsing more than searching. If your knowledge base is less about fixing issues and more about teaching, spend some time on their site and consider how this style might work for you.
Email marketing tool Campaign Monitor has created a clean, well-structured set of articles. Watch our interview on the Campaign Monitor knowledge base redesign project for some behind-the-scenes details!
The design of the main page is search-focused, but below the search bar the content is broken into categories that match the functional areas of their application. Customers can easily navigate to the right help section using the knowledge they’ve built up using the product.
The addition of an “app status” indicator is a smart way to redirect customers experiencing problems to the status update page if there is a widespread issue occurring.
While not a knowledge base in the “help using this web application” sense, gov.uk really is a huge set of knowledge about the UK government. The pages are uncrowded, and the design is refreshingly simple and clear.
In the screenshot above, note the introductory paragraph which explains the purpose of the section, but also links to the major information visitors may want next.
For your own knowledge base, consider how you are cross-linking help pages for the benefit of people who may be navigating through your pages or who have arrived from an external link.
In Australia, beach knowledge is an essential component of life for much of the population. Beachsafe is created by Surf Life Saving Australia to help keep beachgoers alive and well.
A knowledge base like this one faces the challenge of a broad audience, some looking for very specific information on particular beaches and others looking for an overview of beach safety.
With heavy use of videos and clear copywriting, the website does a great job of presenting a lot of information in an uncomplicated format.
Canva provides web and mobile graphic design tools, and that design influence is very obvious in the beautiful Canva Support pages. The left navigation column offers visitors clear choices to help them get closer to the right answer.
The main page contains a mixture of “how to do X” links, company information, and technical support options, based on what they see in their incoming support mix.
The “Popular searches” links are a good way to both teach customers how they can search and to include links to the most common topics right up top as an extra form of quick navigation.
Content complements conversations
The “Open” sign is always lit for an online business — at least that’s how the customer sees things. Looking for help even at odd hours and not finding it carries the same disappointment as showing up to your favorite restaurant and finding it closed.
Although your business may run 24/7, you don’t (and shouldn’t).
By having a helpful knowledge base that’s easily accessible, as well as a great support team for those problems that need a little extra help, anticipatory service reflects something remarkable about an organization: their vigilance, precision, and understanding of the whole customer experience.
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