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ATTENTION: This is not a regular blog post.
This is a BLUEPRINT on how to do your own internal knowledge base plan or… well… blueprint 🙂
You know it, it’s when you take a piece of paper and start drawing how your house or office you were dreaming of all the time should look like. Just like this 12-year old kid does.
Yep, that’s exactly what you will be doing after you finish reading this article.
Sounds less painful after you watched that video, right? 🙂
OK, let’s not lose time anymore and let’s break down this process into very simple steps.
In order to create your own internal knowledge base architecture plan, you will need to answer a number of very simple questions and, at the end of the process, you will know how to do it.
Before you start creating your own internal knowledge base blueprint, here are some quick tips how to prepare yourself for the process:
1. Use pen and paper – Hey, you are making a blueprint so, you are a kind of a designer now! Although there are thousands of tools and apps which will tell you that they are the best tools for planning, sketching etc. using pen and paper in this case will save you time and give you a clear perspective on what you are doing.
2. Make a simple article template – before you do anything, take a piece of paper and try to write an answer for the first question that comes in your mind when you start thinking about the knowledge base. Try to create a simple content template you will be using for your knowledge base articles. This will give you some perspective on how it feels to write a knowledge base article and will help you understand the process. Remember your knowledge base articles need to be concise and relevant.
3. Draw very basic structure of your knowledge base – take another piece of paper and draw your knowledge base as you imagined it by now. Don’t need to go too much in detail about this, just try to draw your knowledge base homepage. Make it simple.
Now, put these papers somewhere where you won’t see them and let’s start from the beginning. Let’s see the questions you will need to answer:
1. Who will have access to it?
What are we talking about? Internal knowledge base. Why do we call it internal? Because it will not be public. Why it won’t be public? Because you will share some private company information inside it useful only to the members of your board. There you go. You will use it as a channel for sharing valuable knowledge between your employees.
Now, all you have to do is to decide will all of the employees have the access to all sections of your knowledge base.
Best practice tips:
1. Your employees love transparency and they love to have the big picture on what is going on inside your company, so don’t be afraid to give all of them the access to pretty everything, but be sure that you are legally protected from unwanted scenarios.
2. Try to determine if some content could confuse a particular group of your knowledge base users. If that’s the case consider creating different groups of users with different access permissions.
2. Who will write it?
Will you write it? Yes, you will probably end up writing a lot of your knowledge base content yourself. If you don’t want this to happen, check out our previous article on how to engage your employees to contribute to your knowledge base, you will feel inspired when you read it.
If you are planning an internal knowledge base for a large company, you will probably need to consider creating a team of people and choose the editor.
Best practice tips:
1. Decide who will be the editor and review all of the articles before published
2. Motivate your employees to share and contribute their knowledge, make them feel appreciated even for smallest tricks and tips they contribute
3. Make it obligatory for each of your employees to contribute with at least one article per week related to their field of expertise
4. Reward your most active contributors
3. What will be written inside of it?
The larger the company the larger the don’t-know-where-to-start-from. Make it simple. Try to make a little list of frequently asked questions inside your company. Try to collect all of the stuff you would use for onboarding your new employees. Go to each of your departments (customer support, development, marketing etc.) and start collecting all of the most common issues and questions.
Best practice tips:
1. You can start this process by simply creating a collaborative Google document or a Trello card where everyone would add their ideas (same as we did for creating our own internal knowledge base).
2. Use a flashcards system to collect all of your questions in one place. Using a pinboard and sticker papers will help you do this like a pro.
3. Try to get each of your employees contribute with at least one question they would like to be answered.
4. Although you will be optimizing your knowledge base all the time, pay attention to your analytics after you launch initial release, see what people are searching for and check if there are some topics which are uncovered.
4. How will it be written?
You need to define your style, the terms which will be used and stay consistent with that. So, you will probably need to have an editor who will go through all of the suggested articles and take care about this.
Depending on the size of your company, you might want to hire a team of people who will work on collecting the knowledge and writing knowledge base articles.
Best practice tips:
1. Keep up with the simplicity. Try to follow the “one article one question answered” rule
2. Define your knowledge base articles template
3. Define which kind of titles you will use
4. Short titles in form of questions seems to give best results in most of use cases
5. You can include an intro to your articles but make it just for the purpose of describing the problem for which you are going to offer a solution
6. Make your solution concise and relevant, straight to the point.
5. How will it be structured?
Will there be more categories and fewer subcategories or opposite? What categories will you include on your knowledge base homepage? How much will you rely on your search bar?
Besides defining the categories and subcategories what you will want to do is to design your knowledge base frontpage and the page of your knowledge base articles.
In order to ensure that your employees who use your internal knowledge base find the answers they need very quickly you will need to take care about these. Having a huge search bar is a must do when building a knowledge base. But, having a search bar which will return some irrelevant results when it is used will produce more damage than good.
So, this will be a technical challenge, you will need a solution which is fast and which gives you relevant results (we will show you later why you will love to have Helpjuice for this).
Best practice tips:
1. Have a search bar and make it work – if you have a good one you will need to care less about categories
2. Try to slice all of your knowledge base content into few general categories and then slice these into more subcategories if needed
3. Consider creating a different category for each of your departments like, customer support, development, marketing etc.
4. Define the structure of your knowledge base articles page – you might want to include some poll or a feedback system which will give you insights into the quality of your articles, you might consider adding quick navigation tool sidebar if you need to have long articles
6. What technical solutions are you going to use?
This will be the most important thing to decide. Why? Because you can dream about your perfect knowledge base, you can create a perfect plan for it but you will need a technical solution to make all of your dreams real.
Best practice tips:
1. Ideally, what you want is a knowledge base software which is completely dedicated to this field. What you probably won’t want is a software which will do this or that plus knowledge base.
2. As said before, your perfect software solution needs to provide you freedom to design it as you want, a great user experience when it comes to searching, it needs to be fast it needs to give you relevant search results and it needs to give you flexibility when creating and categorizing your articles.
3. If you are going to include your employees into this process, you will want to have a technical solution which will allow your employees to contribute with their knowledge. You will need a solution which will allow you to give different access roles to your employees i.e. to decide who will be the editor and review the articles for their quality and who will be the contributor.
4. You will want to have insights into what is happening inside your knowledge base, which are the best performing articles, which are the worst performing ones. You will want to know your most active contributors and even more ideally, you will want to know how much time and money your knowledge base is saving you.
5. You will also want to have a feedback system to determine which of your articles are more or less helpful. You will want to have a technical solution which will allow you to integrate polls and comments inside your articles.
7. Why not Helpjuice? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Well, everything we wrote above can be done with Helpjuice. Here’s just a few of reasons why you will love to have it as your knowledge base technical solution:
1. We at Helpjuice are 100% dedicated to knowledge base software product. Not less and not more than that. We offer you ability to integrate anything through the API inside our software.
2. With Helpjuice, you can have your knowledge base designed as you wish, free of charge by our team. All you have to do is explain to us what you want. Or send us your sketchbook drawing 🙂
3. We offer you super-fast search bar which displays relevant results
4. With Helpjuice, you can easily add your employees to contribute to your knowledge base and you can define different access roles
5. We have pretty detailed insights into everything you need in our dashboard
6. We offer you a simple but powerful feedback system which will give you insights into best performing vs. worst performing articles, most active contributors and we will calculate for you how many support emails are being saved with your knowledge base
There you go, if you followed all the steps above, you will be ready to create your own internal knowledge base blueprint. Now, if you followed the first three steps advised in this article, you can take your sketchings and see what you could add there.
Once you have everything covered, these steps will be enough for you to make an initial release of your internal knowledge base. Then, you can follow up the process with optimizing it to the perfection.
Do you have something to add? Don’t forget to tell us if this technique worked for you. And, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t already.