A knowledge base has quickly become a must-have for any organization looking to deliver a stellar customer experience. In fact, a recent study found that 92% of people would use a knowledge base for self-service support if it was available.
But not just any knowledge base will be able to garner top results, or deliver the best support for your customers. There are a number of features that your knowledge base needs to have in order to be successful.
A successful knowledge base is usually made up of the following key features:
Fast loading speed
Good search function
User feedback and analytics
Great UX and UI design
Let's take a closer look at each.
Fast Loading Speed
Having a fast loading speed is an absolute necessity for two primary reasons:
Your customers won’t bother viewing your knowledge base if it’s slow.
Loading speed plays a key role in your on-page SEO value.
The first main reason that you need to have a fast loading speed is that your customers simply won’t stick around if your pages are slow. Time is valuable to customers and they don’t have the patience to wait.
In fact, 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. When looking at loading speed stats for a smartphone, the numbers are even more staggering; 74% of users will leave if the webpage doesn’t load within five seconds.
Ultimately, slow loading speeds will affect your bounce rate, and will prevent your pages from being viewed.
In addition, the loading speed of a webpage affects your SEO, as it’s one of the main factors that contribute to your crawl rate limit.
The crawl rate limit refers to how many web pages bots can search and index on your site at once, and how long they have to wait until they can move to the next URL. If your pages respond quickly to the bots (meaning that your pages have a fast loading time), then the limit will be increased until they are just below the threshold of risking slow loading time for users.
So, in a nutshell, the more quickly your pages load, the more quickly they’ll be crawled.
Further, loading speed contributes to your rank on Google (or any other search engine, for that matter). This is because the faster your pages load, the more likely users are to stick around, making your pages more popular.
To check the loading speed of your knowledge base, use the Google PageSpeed Insights page. Again, loading speed is very important, so you need to make this feature a priority. In the end, it doesn’t matter how awesome your knowledge base is, if it doesn’t load quickly, nobody will stick around to see it.
Good Search Function
Having categories within your knowledge base to keep it organized and clean doesn’t eliminate the need for a good search function. Just think about it—how many times do you yourself use a search function on a website? I personally use it every time it’s available, and when it’s not, I instantly view the brand in a more negative light.
Just having a basic search function, however, is simply not enough. It needs to be a good search function, and work to accommodate human error in the search query.
Having a good search function is extremely important, especially for larger organizations who have a lot of webpages in their knowledge base. Customers browsing your knowledge base want to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly; and having a poorly designed search function will lead customers to have a negative opinion of your brand. Having something like a federated search function will allow you to deliver the type of search capabilities that your customers expect.
User Feedback and Analytics
What’s the point of doing anything if you don’t know what you’re doing right and what needs to be improved? Feedback is very important, and without it, your knowledge base won’t have the insight necessary to improve.
Having a feedback function is crucial to the health of both your knowledge base and your business. In fact, 77% of customers will view your business more favourably if you ask for and accept customer feedback.
It improves customer retention.
It improves customer engagement.
It improves the effectiveness of your knowledge base.
In addition to getting feedback directly from your customers, it’s important to ensure that you are collecting data and analytics from your knowledge base (ex. number of pageviews on a specific article).
Great UX and UI Design
In case you aren’t familiar with what exactly UX and UI are, here are some quick definitions:
User Experience (UX) refers to the design of the overall experience with the aim of creating a relevant product that matters to customers, and includes branding and design.
User Interface (UI) refers to all elements on a webpage with which the user can interact, with the end goal of making the interface easy and pleasurable to use.
Having good UX and UI design is incredibly important for your knowledge base, as it is for any website or webpage. People are very quick to judge the appearance of your webpage, and if your knowledge base is poorly designed (both in looks and function) it will have a negative impact on your customers. In fact:
I’m sure you can see why good design is so important!
One of the most important UX design features that you need to have is ensuring that your knowledge base is mobile responsive; it needs to integrate and operate cleanly on mobile devices. Since mobile traffic now constitutes the majority of all internet traffic, you want to ensure that you deliver the same UX to mobile customers as you would to those visiting from a desktop or laptop.
To optimize your knowledge base for excellent UX and UI, it’s probably best to avoid DIY solutions. There’s a ton of excellent knowledge base software out there; and the best ones will let you customize for great UX and UI.
Last but certainly not least is that you need to make sure that the software you choose for your knowledge base is SEO friendly. What this means is that it should provide you with the ability to optimize all of your web pages with on-page SEO.
On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing both the content on a web page and the HTML code behind the web page. This is done in order to rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP), thereby generating more traffic due to increased visibility.
Some of the must-have on-page SEO capabilities include:
The ability to create a meta description: A meta description is essentially a bit of HTML code that provides a brief summary of the contents of the web page. The meta description also appears on the SERP if the search engine deems it to be an accurate summary.
The ability to create a meta title: A meta title is found in the HTML code of a web page and indicates the name of the web page. The meta title appears both in code and to viewers, visible in the web browser, on the SERP and when sharing the URL on social media.
The ability to create SEO friendly URLs: SEO friendly URLs are essentially a URL slug that is clear and includes the title of the page or topic, such as: www.example.com/article-on-knowledge. URLs that aren’t SEO friendly will look something like this: www.example.com/dbd/1oO06rYFrOXf-WsQFJYBYqd2DlFt. A good knowledge base software will auto-generate appropriate URL slugs.
The ability to add image alt text: Image alt text refers to the HTML attribute applied to images so that they can be “readable” to bots since images can’t be interpreted without a description.
The end goal here is to make sure that your knowledge base can be found. By ensuring that it’s SEO friendly, it’s likely that your knowledge base will get more traction and you’ll get noticed more quickly.