In the rapidly evolving landscape of modern business and technology, creating and maintaining a comprehensive knowledge base is a key component for effective customer service.
However, creating effective and coherent knowledge base content can be challenging. This is where a knowledge base style guide can be helpful.
Companies must understand the importance of creating a knowledge base style guide to ensure consistency, clarity, and effectiveness when developing content. A knowledge base style guide is a compass for content creators and ensures that the knowledge base navigation becomes a reliable and user-friendly resource.
- 1. Define the goal and scope
- 2. Identify use cases and content types
- 3. Establish writing style and tone
- 4. Word choice and terminology
- 5. Formatting guidelines
- 6. Share examples and reference
- 7. Consumer advice and best practices
- 8. Adding multimedia content
- 9. Review and revision process
- 10. User feedback and iterations
Table of contents
1. Define the Goal and Scope
To begin creating a knowledge base style guide, it is essential to clearly understand the critical goals of the knowledge base and the scope of information it contains.
Consider why you are creating the knowledge base and what specific problems or questions it is intended to solve. Also, define the audience of your knowledge base, as different audiences may require different content styles and tones.
For example, a troubleshooting guide for the same product varies from what is shown to different stakeholders:
- Customer – Basic step by step guide (explained in a very non-technical & basic language)
- L1 support – To understand the root cause of the issue and some additional functionalities
- L2&L3 support – Guides for detailed troubleshooting and explanation of tech aspects
- Field engineers – Core hardware understanding about how to open the machine, change wirings, etc
2. Identify Use Cases and Content Types
After defining the purpose and audience of your knowledge base, categorize the different types of content you want it to contain.
For example, you might have troubleshooting steps, how-to articles, and video tutorials. Each of these content types has different formatting, style, and tone requirements.
It is essential to create specific style guide templates or formats for each type of content and ensure that they are customized to convey information effectively and in the most user-friendly manner.
3. Establish Writing Style and Tone
One of the essential elements of a style guide is establishing a consistent writing style and tone. Decide whether you want your knowledge base software to take on a formal, informal, friendly, or professional tone based on your audience and brand identity.
Indicate whether you would like your content to be written in the first person (“we,” “us”) or second person (“you”, “your”), or whether the third person approach is preferred.
This step provides content creators with clear guidance on how they should approach writing to maintain a consistent entry in the knowledge base.
4. Word Choice and Terminology
Linguistic coherence is vital to ensure clarity and understanding of the knowledge base. Create a glossary of key terms and their definitions, mainly if your content contains jargon.
Include the terminology you prefer in your knowledge management system to ensure everything is clear. For example, if your company has specific product names or industry-specific terms, establish rules for their consistent use.
Also, advise when to use less technical language, especially when speaking to users who may not be subject matter experts.
5. Formatting Guidelines
Formatting is essential in ensuring that knowledge base content is easy to read and navigate.
Decide on fonts, sizes, and colors for the text and ensure they follow your brand’s design guidelines. Define how you will structure your content using headings, subheadings, bullets, and numbering.
Determine when to include hyperlinks, how to format code fragments, and when to bold or italicize text for emphasis. These guidelines ensure a consistent look and structure throughout the knowledge base.
6. Share Examples and References
Provide specific examples and references to help content creators understand and effectively implement your style guide.
For each content type, add sample content that you can use as templates.
Additionally, provide links to well-written knowledge base articles or external resources demonstrating the style and quality you want to achieve.
By showing good and bad content examples, you can guide your team toward best practices and avoid common pitfalls when building a knowledge base.
7. Consumer Advice and Best Practices
Encourage content creators to create friendly and engaging content. Suggest using clear titles and subtitles for easier readability and navigation.
Emphasize the importance of brevity to avoid information overload. Additionally, offer strategies to engage users, including relevant links to related articles, cross-referencing your knowledge base, or adding practical tips and recommendations.
8. Adding Multimedia Content
Multimedia elements such as images, videos, and interactive features can significantly increase the effectiveness of your knowledge management.
Set guidelines to seamlessly integrate these elements into your content. For images, specify your preferred formats, resolutions, and sizes and ensure they are compatible with your platform’s capabilities.
Make video format, duration, and resolution recommendations that balance quality and user experience. Consider using interactive elements such as charts or quizzes to make your knowledge base more engaging and informative.
9. Review and Revision Process
Establish a systematic and multilateral review and revision process. Define the roles and responsibilities of writers, editors, and subject matter experts.
Implement a version control system to track changes and keep your style guide current.
Schedule regular style guide review meetings to incorporate new trends, technologies, and user feedback, then quickly make any necessary changes.
10. User Feedback and Iterations
Actively collect user feedback through various channels such as surveys, knowledge base feedback forms, and direct user interviews.
Use this feedback to make changes to your style guide. Analyze user behavior data such as click-through rates and time spent on pages to identify potential problems. Repeat your instructions, focusing on the vulnerabilities reported by users.
Update your style guide regularly to ensure it remains a dynamic, evolving document that continually improves the user experience.
5 Examples of Effective Knowledge Base Style Guide
Here are some examples of effective knowledge base style guides for different types of KB Articles:
1. How-to Articles
How-to articles are step-by-step instructions on how to perform a specific task or accomplish a particular goal.
A good style guide for how-to articles should contain clear, concise instructions and screenshots or videos illustrating each step. The guide should also provide a logical and easy-to-understand article structure.
2. Troubleshooting Articles
Troubleshooting articles provide solutions to common problems that users may encounter.
A good troubleshooting article style guide should contain a clear and concise description of the problem and detailed instructions on resolving it. The guide should also include links to related articles or resources that may be useful to users.
3. Best Practice Articles
Best practice articles provide tips and recommendations on achieving optimal results or avoiding common mistakes.
A good best practice article style guide should contain clear and concise advice and examples or case studies that illustrate the recommended approach. The guide should also include links to related articles or resources that may be useful to users.
A good FAQ-style guide should have clear, concise questions and answers and links to related articles or resources that may be useful to users. The guide should also provide a logical and easy-to-understand article structure.
5. Glossary Articles
Glossary articles contain definitions of essential terms and concepts. A good glossary article style guide should include clear, concise descriptions and examples or illustrations that help users understand the term or concept.
In summary, creating a highly useful knowledge base style guide is critical to ensuring that the information you provide is clear, consistent, and accessible.
By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can create a structured framework that not only improves user experience but also enables your team to create content effectively and efficiently.
Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to act. Start implementing these policies in your organization and watch your knowledge base transform.
Remember: A well-organized and user-friendly knowledge base not only serves your customers better, but also improves your brand reputation.
Are you ready to revolutionize your knowledge base?
Don’t wait, put these strategies into action today, and you’ll see your customer satisfaction increase.