Knowledge Base: What Is It and How to Build One

Userpilot Team
9 min readJun 19, 2024

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Customers prefer to solve issues through a self-service portal before chatting with an agent, according to the Zendesk 2024 CX Trends Report. This makes knowledge bases a relevant part of your customer support.

Also named resource or help centers, these libraries help users or prospects find answers to their questions 24/7. This approach allows you to leverage artificial intelligence to reduce the need for an always-on customer support team.

In this article, we include the basics of a knowledge base, why it’s beneficial for your business, how to build one, and examples. Plus, tips to create an internal or external knowledge base for in-app support.

TL;DR

  • A knowledge base is a self-serve resource library for proactive customer service. It allows users to access 24/7 answers without extending your support team’s time.
  • There are three main benefits of adding a company knowledge base:
  1. Simplifying your customer service team lives by reducing the time they spend answering the same questions.
  2. Increasing customer satisfaction, as allowing them to find immediate answers provides a better experience.
  3. Saving money on salaries or rehiring and potentially getting lower cost acquisition costs (CAC) and a higher customer lifetime value (CLV).
  • Follow these steps to create a knowledge base:
  • Identify your target audience.
  1. Define the list of topics for which you’ll create content.
  2. Look into knowledge base tools and choose one.
  3. Define the structure of your page and write the knowledge base documentation.
  4. Track its performance.
  • Best practices to build a help center include adding a search bar, keeping it up to date, and reviewing your analytics.
  • Take a look at the examples below from Userpilot, Heap, Mailchimp, and Amplitude. These all include search engines and propose different ways to organize the information.
  • To build native-looking knowledge bases and offer in-app support, try Userpilot. This no-code, all-in-one product adoption platform makes it easy for you to build a service portal that provides answers to your customers’ questions without hassle. Get a demo.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is an online self-serve resource library that helps users solve their issues or answer questions about your product on their own. This is usually where your customer-facing product documentation lives.

Depending on the type of resource center you build, you can allow contributors to participate. They can chip in and share relevant information with other users. This promotes knowledge sharing and expands the information in the knowledge base.

Benefits of building a knowledge base

According to Zendesk’s 2024 CX Trends Report, immediacy is key to customer success and engagement. In fact, 80% of customers expect to solve their issues right away through chats and support spaces.

Making knowledge bases highly beneficial both for you and your users as it allows you to:

  • Simplify your customer support team’s work. By adding a self-service knowledge base, your customer can get answers to their questions or problems without consulting your team. This allows them to focus on more pressing or important tasks.
  • Improve customer satisfaction. Since your users get answers faster, they’ll feel more engaged and satisfied if you help them solve their issues immediately through a self-service portal.
  • Save cost. By offering self-service options and leveraging technology to offer in-app customer support, you can save money on salaries and rehires without risking customer satisfaction. You could also potentially reduce your CAC by answering prospects in time and increase your CLV by retaining your users.

How to create a knowledge base

Knowledge bases should anticipate any questions your users or prospects may have to offer excellent customer service.

Follow these steps to create a knowledge base that serves your users properly:

1. Identify your target audience

Who will be accessing your knowledge base? Will it be new customers, eventual users, or leads?

It’s crucial that you define this early so you can build it thinking of the customer experience and come up with the best help center design possible. This definition alone sets general guidelines and influences the information architecture (IA), location on-site, and type of information to include.

For example, if you’re adding an internal knowledge base for your customers, you’ll make it accessible in-app. Whereas, if you build it for prospects, you’ll make it ungated on your website.

2. Decide content topics to write knowledge base articles

Based on who your target audience is, you can plan what self-service content you’ll include. You may need to create help articles, product documentation, how-to guides, or troubleshooting docs.

For example, if your goal is to make sure existing customers can get answers at all stages of their relationship with you, you can include an FAQ guide. But, if you want to help newcomers, you might include more how-to guides.

resource center example
Offer support in different formats from your resource center.

3. Choose the right knowledge base software

You can build a custom knowledge base for your app, but that’s usually costly and time-consuming.

As an alternative, you can use a no- or low-code solution to add a knowledge base to your app and edit it to match your branding.

Choose knowledge-base software that allows you to build automation and integrates with your workflows. It’s also crucial that it can scale.

The perfect knowledge base software should:

  • Let you change the first-page view depending on the user.
  • Support different types of knowledge base content formats.
  • Allow you to customize colors, logos, and fonts.
  • Do content localization to answer users in their language based on where they are.
  • Support performance tracking and knowledge base management to review product analytics.
  • Be no code so the support or marketing team can edit.
Resource center editor view on userpilot
Edit your resource center to your liking with Userpilot.

4. Structure and write knowledge base articles

Design the layout of your knowledge base and test it as a wireframe if possible. You can also conduct tree tests to create the most intuitive IA.

Group articles by topic, content types, time using the app, or user profiles. For example, you can segment your knowledge base by type of user: Product managers, sales representatives, or marketing teams. Inside, they will find effective knowledge base articles for each persona.

Onboarding checklist editor on Userpilot
Make your onboarding checklist appear on your resource center.

5. Plan for continuous knowledge management and track performance

A knowledge base is only helpful if your target audience finds it useful. So, keep track of your internal or external knowledge bases’ performance throughout the year. This ensures it shows accurate and relevant results through time.

You could also benefit from implementing a knowledge management system. This guarantees the information is protected, stays relevant, and is stored in a central location.

Review your analytics to identify hard metrics like most clicked articles or support requests coming from the knowledge base.

Remember to encourage feedback and add in-app surveys to gather their opinions by asking questions such as:

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how easy is it to find answers to your questions?
  • Which help module is most interesting to you?
  • Are there any support requests that aren’t available?
Resource center content analytics view on Userpilot
Review your resource center content and search analytics on Userpilot.

Best practices for knowledge base management

Here are three tips for maintaining your knowledge base useful for your target audience:

Implement search functionality

Having a good layout will help users navigate your knowledge base easily. However, users believe the search function is the most important functionality on a website, even more important than navigation bars.

Picture this: Your user is trying to find out how to recover deleted files. They’re presented with these categories: Troubleshooting, how-to articles, product documentation, and 1-minute answers. All could potentially answer their question, so they’d have to open each one and see. A search bar can help them find the answer much faster.

Define what happens when users search your knowledge base on Userpilot
Define what happens when users search your knowledge base on Userpilot.

Keep your knowledge base up to date

This means writing knowledge base articles before you launch a new feature and staying on top of your users’ requests.

We recommend that you set up a process with timely updates and routines for possible scenarios. For example, if you’re revamping a feature, write the documentation as part of the feature rollout or product launch plan to make information immediately available.

Add a news portal to your knowledge base
Add a news portal to your knowledge base.

Leverage knowledge base data analytics to optimize content

Stay on top of your metrics by creating automated reports or an interactive dashboard with your main KPIs for easy access to your results. You can track:

  • Search analytics.
  • Most clicked links.
  • Support tickets derived from the knowledge base.
  • Page traffic.
Keep track of your content and search analytics of your knowledge base on Userpilot
Keep track of your content and search analytics of your knowledge base on Userpilot.

Examples of knowledge bases in SaaS

Take a look at these four examples and use them as inspiration.

Internal knowledge base from Userpilot

See how Userpilot organizes the information by features and support options
See how Userpilot organizes the information by features and support options.

This example shows an internal knowledge base. At the bottom, you can find three options: Home, help, and news. This initial view allows users to focus on the tab they need.

While they can navigate the page, there’s a search bar at the top for users to look up what they need.

In the second tab, the knowledge base articles are organized by features for better visibility. If they still can’t find the solution, they can contact support agents there.

This is a great example because it shows that knowledge bases can follow different organizational methods as long as they’re helpful for users.

Knowledge base page from Heap

Heap’s knowledge base page shows content organized by app functionality
Heap’s knowledge base page shows content organized by app functionality. Source: Heap.

This knowledge base organizes information by time spent using the app and its features. For example, there’s a section of articles specifically catered to new users.

At the bottom of this Heap Analytics page, you’ll find the Heap University. There, you can sign up for courses and sessions to learn more about the application.

Knowledge base page from Mailchimp

Mailchimp lets you view content based on popularity. Source: Mailchimp
Mailchimp lets you view content based on popularity. Source: Mailchimp.

This example shows a different approach to help desks. It includes the popular or most-clicked articles at the top for users to answer common inquiries quickly. It also offers a video-learning module for new users and a comprehensive set of articles organized by topic.

Here, users can also search for what they need using a search bar or scroll down to contact an expert. The site also redirects users to the help center in case they still need further assistance.

Mailchimp’s help center expands as you scroll and shows guides by topic. Source: Mailchimp
Mailchimp’s help center expands as you scroll and shows guides by topic. Source: Mailchimp.

In-app knowledge base from Amplitude

Amplitude uses the chat with support as the main help option.  Source: Amplitude
Amplitude uses the chat with support as the main help option. Source: Amplitude.

Amplitude’s example includes the contact button as the first available option. Then, it goes into each of the help categories, showing popular articles and resources by functionality, e.g., Amplitude Analytics.

This is a good example of an AI-powered knowledge base. However, having the chat option as the main suggestion can cause users to go there directly instead of solving it on their own.

Conclusion

By empowering customers to solve issues independently through a self-service portal, you can streamline your customer support teams’ operations and allow them to focus on more complex tasks.

Make sure to determine your target audience, anticipate potential customers’ questions, and plan for periodic knowledge management. Also, include a search bar for faster service and organize each knowledge base article under intuitive categories.

If you want to build a knowledge base for your product that feels native, try Userpilot. We’re an all-in-one, no-code tool for product-led growth with extensive help center functionality. Get a demo.

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Userpilot Team

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com