The Complete Guide to Building an Effective Support Knowledge Base

The Zapier team wrote an amazing, in-depth guide on building an effective knowledge base.  Here’s the intro:

It’s 11p.m., you’re driving down a remote road on a clear, starry night when Pop!_the stillness of the dark is shattered by a blown-out tire. You’re safe but stranded in the middle of nowhere. Denial and panic are soon followed by acceptance as you realize there _must be a spare tire and jack somewhere in the car. And so, almost without thinking, you open the glove compartment and reach for your car manual. You never took time to read it before—you have better things to do than read a manual. But now that you need it, the manual is your best friend. You owe your sanity to the writer and designer who made your first time changing a tire seem like a familiar chore. Documentation is important. It’s the hidden work behind the flashy products, the humble text and graphics that give you knowledge on the fly when you need it most—without requiring someone to personally assist you. It’s easy to ignore documentation, and offer your product to customers without a user guide, help menu, or tutorial. But if you want to set your team and users up for success, everything needs documentation.

That intro highlights the value of documentation.  Now, here’s an overview of what the knowledge base guide covers:

  • Why Documentation is Important
    • Help Customers Help Themselves
    • Support Your Own Team
    • Build Better Products
  • Decide What to Document
    • Explain Everything
    • Teach in Logical Steps
    • Multimedia is Good
    • Watch Your Words
    • Format Matters, Too
    • Make Everything Reusable
    • Dig Deeper
  • Structure What You Document
  • Host Your Documentation
  • Organize Your Help Center
  • Surface Your Documentation
  • Keep Improving Your Documentation

This is one of the best guides we’ve found on building an awesome knowledge base, check it out here.  Check it out, bookmark it and use it to make your documentation as great as your customers deserve!


Also published on Medium.