A prospective customer with a question about a service searches the company website and, unable to find the answer they're looking for, chooses to go with another service provider.

A college student frantically rifles through their notebook pages and searches their long list of browser bookmarks, trying to locate the source of research they need for an assignment due in a few hours.

A startup team meeting runs late into the night for the third time this week, desperately trying to gather information and resources needed for an investor presentation the next day.

What's the common denominator in these three scenarios? They could all be solved with a single knowledge base.

Knowledge bases are powerful tools for companies, businesses, and individuals to store and access information quickly and easily. Creating and maintaining an effective knowledge base can seem intimidating at first. How do you start? How do you collect and organize the data? What strategies should you use to keep it functional over time?

This guide will provide step-by-step tips to create a knowledge base and strategies for maintaining it as a valuable asset. Let's explore knowledge bases, their benefits, and how to develop and maintain one.

What is a knowledge base?

Create a knowledge base: light bulb on a blue background

A knowledge base is a comprehensive collection of information organized and stored in a central location for easy access. Businesses, organizations, and individuals can use a knowledge base to store, share, and access data related to a particular subject or project.

Businesses commonly use two types of knowledge bases — internal and external. Internal knowledge bases are used to store confidential information available only within the organization, such as company policies and procedures, product specifications, and customer service scripts. This can save time and resources by providing a single, reliable source of information rather than requiring employees to search for information from multiple sources.

External knowledge bases are available to the public and are usually used for customer service. These may include frequently asked questions (FAQs), instructional guides, troubleshooting tips, and other helpful resources that customers can access on their own without contacting customer service. As a result, customers can find answers quickly and team members can focus on more complex issues.

For individuals, knowledge bases are a great way to manage personal knowledge. Personal knowledge bases can include study notes, research materials, project plans, or any other important information you need handy. Using a knowledge management system, you can quickly organize and access the data you need for school, work, and everyday life.

Why create a knowledge base?

Create a knowledge base: stack of colorful books

A good knowledge base can be useful for managing knowledge in many situations. Organizations and businesses can benefit from having an internal knowledge base that speeds up onboarding, provides employees with easy access to information, and consolidates company knowledge.

External knowledge bases can help companies provide a better customer experience by quickly providing a self-service portal with answers to common questions, support tickets, and other help desk features.

Creating a personal knowledge base can help individuals save time and stay organized. With access to all the information you need in one central location, you can easily find what you're looking for and spend less time searching through your notes or files. Many people also use knowledge base software to track project goals and progress, making it easier to stay on track and achieve objectives.

Effective knowledge bases can also be helpful tools for sharing information with others. For example, if you’re creating an online course or webinar, having knowledge base articles and content for participants to reference is a great way to ensure everyone has access to the same resources.

Highlight, annotate or take notes from anywhere, and it's easily linked to a selected topic in your Knowledge Base.

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What are the benefits of a knowledge base?

An effective knowledge base can offer a range of benefits for companies and individuals. Here are just a few:

  • Increased efficiency. On average, 3.6 hours are spent searching for information at work each day, according to Coveo's Workplace Relevance Report of 4,000 employees. A good knowledge base can help reduce this time by providing a single, reliable source of information to optimize team members’ workflow.
  • Improved employee satisfaction. Providing employees with the appropriate knowledge base tools and technologies to facilitate easy access to information is crucial for retention. The Coveo study also found that 81% of respondents couldn't find info at critical times, resulting in 31% feeling burnout and 16% considering quitting.
  • Enhanced personal productivity and learning. A central repository of information allows you to easily access the knowledge and resources you need to complete tasks, which can help you work more efficiently. In addition, creating and organizing your knowledge base content can help you achieve deep understanding and retain information during your self-learning.
  • Better customer service. Having a self-serve knowledge base tool can dramatically improve customer service since it eliminates the need to wait for customer service staff to respond. Recent polls report that 79% of customers prefer quick responses to their inquiries, and 83% say good customer service is a critical factor in deciding where to shop.
  • Improved engagement and retention. Research by LinkedIn reveals that 74% of employees want self-directed learning opportunities at work. An internal knowledge base can offer on-demand training, letting employees study at their own pace and revisit materials as needed. Bonus — 94% of workers say they would stick with their company if they had more learning opportunities.
  • Better decision-making. A personal knowledge base tool can provide a comprehensive overview of the information and resources you have at your disposal, which can help you make informed decisions. Having all the data and information in one place can help you think critically and generate creative solutions to complex problems.

The benefits of an effective knowledge base are vast — from improved employee satisfaction to better problem-solving skills. Whether you’re creating a personal knowledge base or one for your organization, the ability to store and organize information effectively can help you save time, stay organized, and reach your goals.

9 tips and strategies to create a knowledge base

KBS spelled using letter tiles

If you're considering building a knowledge base, the thought of creating and maintaining it can be overwhelming. However, you can use a few strategies and best practices to make the process of building your knowledge base a little easier. Try these nine tips and tricks to create a knowledge base quickly and easily.

1. Start with the basics

Begin by identifying your target audience and their needs. Are you making the knowledge base for yourself, your team, or your customers? Understanding its purpose will help you in several ways, including determining what to include and how it should be structured. Knowing your audience will also help you decide how to present the information in an easily digestible format, so it's easier to search and understand.

2. Choose an appropriate platform

There are many knowledge base software options and tools, ranging from simple document libraries to more complex systems with advanced features. It's essential to choose a platform that meets your needs and budget. If you're working with a team, look for tools that offer collaboration features such as version control or user permissions. For customers, ease of use should be a top priority. For knowledge base examples, consider exploring popular platforms like Notion, Roam Research, and Coda.

3. Design a user-friendly interface

A good knowledge base is easy to navigate and use, so keep user experience in mind during development. You don't have to be an expert in information architecture or design, but you can use some basic conventions to make your knowledge base accessible. For example, create a clear organization structure with categories, headers, and a table of contents to allow users to find what they're looking for quickly and easily. Visual cues like icons or colors can help customers and employees recognize different sections of the knowledge base easily.

4. Gather and organize content

The next step is to gather and organize your knowledge base content. This might include creating new content, such as articles and FAQs, or collecting existing content from various sources. As you pick your content, consider what is most important to include. Do you need tutorials, how-to guides, or product specifications? You may need an extensive list of FAQs and troubleshooting tips. Understanding user experience and needs will help you prioritize content and create an effective knowledge base.

5. Use a content management system

A content management system (CMS) can be helpful for publishing and organizing knowledge base articles and other content. A CMS allows you to easily add, edit, and delete content and categorize it logically. It also makes it easier to search for information and track user engagement. You can use a standalone CMS such as WordPress or Joomla or opt for an all-in-one platform like HubSpot.

6. Utilize templates

Consider creating a template to help you quickly and easily add new articles to your knowledge base. Some CMSs have built-in templates, but you can also create your own containing the necessary fields and formatting for each type of content. Using templates ensures consistency and accuracy in how information is presented. Users will find it easier to find what they're looking for, and updating content in your knowledge base will also be easier.

7. Make it searchable

Magnifying glass on a multi-colored background

Knowledge is only as good as its accessibility. Make your knowledge base easily searchable by including a search function with a search bar or table of contents on the homepage, as well as an index of topics and keywords. These tools help customers, employees, and other users quickly locate specific information or resources. Be sure to include technical and lay terms so everyone can find the needed content, and regularly update the index as you add new content.

8. Consider automation

Automating processes in your knowledge base can save time and money, not to mention frustration. Many tools are available to help you automate processes in your knowledge base, from simple chatbots to multipurpose tools like Zapier. Many tools have plugins, widgets, and other integrations to help you automate many steps of the workflow, including:

  • Automated reminders for updates
  • Auto-generated answers for specific queries
  • Customer support metrics tracking
  • In-depth analytics to track user engagement

9. Monitor and update

The work doesn’t end after launch. It's essential to regularly review and update your knowledge base content and add new information when necessary. This helps keep your knowledge base relevant and reliable for users. Set aside time each month to check existing content and ensure it’s current, accurate, and complete. You should also monitor user engagement and feedback to identify areas that need improvement.

Create a knowledge base and experience the benefits

An effective knowledge base is a valuable tool for businesses, organizations, and individuals to store and access information in a central location. Creating and maintaining a good knowledge base can increase personal productivity, improve the customer experience, enhance learning and retention, and facilitate better decision-making. While it may seem intimidating to create a knowledge base, many strategies and tools are available to help you get started and keep it organized and functional. With a little bit of effort and the right resources, you can be on your way to creating an effective knowledge base.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to share, recommend and connect 🙏

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Erin E. Rupp
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Erin E. Rupp

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