Back in the old days, a good product/service used to come with a detailed and well-organized “user’s manual”. In today’s world traditional paper user’s manual is replaced by knowledge bases.
When you try to figure out how to use a product that you have purchased, you will navigate to the product’s knowledge base. From there it could be one of two scenarios. Either you find what you are looking for or end up with contacting support!
You Need a Knowledge Base!
If your company offers a number of products/services you definitely need a knowledge base. As your clients will always have questions about your product/service. A good knowledge base has many benefits to your business:
- Happier customers; as they are able to find answers to their questions about your product.
- An informative knowledge base will reduce your support load and as a result, you will be saving the money you would spend to bring more people to support your product.
- It helps drive traffic to your website
You may also invest in creating an internal knowledge base for your organization. This will help you in:
- Keeping the organization procedures centralized. Rather than having knowledge stored in individuals heads!
- Unifiying problem solving methodoligies<.>
- Preparing training material for new staff. It will also be a great reference for new employees
Today, I will show you how you can create an astonishing knowledge base using WordPress and KnowAll theme.
KnowAll Theme Features
KnowAll is a theme created by HeroThemes which allows you to create a professional knowledge base with ease. It covers all the basic needs that you would want to have in your knowledge base. Additionally, it provides some extra features that you might not have thought of before.
Before we dive into configuring and building up our knowledge base, let’s see what KnowAll has got to offer:
- Customize your knowledge base to reflect your company style.
- Responsive, your clients will have a delightful experience navigating through your database form their desktops, laptops and mobile devices.
- Organize your knowledge base by creating categories and subcategories.
- Add knowledge base articles with ease.
- A short code builder that allows you to add notices, tabs and more.
- Provide your clients with an auto-complete search functionality
- Allow your clients to provide you with feedback on how useful the article was.
- Collect analytics on the search terms your clients use.
- Provide live support transfer if your client doesn’t find the desired answer.
- You can set your knowledge base to be public or accessible only by site members (clients who purchased your product/service)
Must point out that KnowAll is a theme, which means that it will require a standalone WordPress installation. This might require you to create a WordPress multisite installation. If you are not a big fan of multisite installations; HeroTheme (the makers of KnowAll theme) got you covered as they have packed all the knowledge base functionality packed in the KnowAll theme into the KnowAll plugin. The KnowAll plugin will allow you to build your knowledge base on top of the theme that you are already using.
Let’s install KnowAll theme and build a knowledge base.
Installing and configuring KnowAll theme
Once you install and activate KnowAll you will be taken to a setup wizard. It is a five-step easy to use setup wizard. On the first step, you will be asked to fill in your activation code. On the second step, you will install the required plugins for KnowAll. Click the continue button and the plugins will be installed.
The Third Step of the wizard will allow you to import some demo content. Click on the Install Marked button to import the demo content.
This is how your website will look like after installing the demo content.
Now that we have completed installing and importing the demo content. Let’s configure KnowAll. KnowAll adds a new menu item in your WordPress dashboard “Knowledge Base”, from there click on Settings.
On the General tab you can set your knowledge base to display breadcrumbs. This option is chosen by default. I will keep it this way as it will help the users navigating the knowledge base. You can also set the number of articles to display and how they are sorted.
Setting the knowledge base to be private or public can also be controlled from the general tab.
The Slugs tab allows you to control the base slugs of the:
- Article Slug
- Category Slug
- Tag Slug
Must say that it is worth spending some time in choosing the right base slugs as they would definitely help you in getting traffic through organic search.
As we mentioned, KnowAll allows you to collect feedback from the users. The feedback settings are controlled from the Article Feedback tab. You can enable or disable collecting readers vote on articles. I strongly recommend that you keep it enable it as it will help you in improving your knowledge base content. You can also allow non-logged in users to vote. Enabling and disabling the readers’ upvote and downvote can be also controlled from there.
The Transfers tab allows you to link your knowledge base with an external support service. This comes really handy, as the readers might not find the answers they are looking for and need further help from your support team. Setting the link of the support service from the Transfers tab allows you to collect statistics of readers who navigate to your support system associated with the article that the user was on when they decided to steer to your support system.
With that, we have completed configuring our theme.
Adding knowledge base categories
Before we start writing our knowledgebase articles, it is a good idea that we think about the catagories and set them up. To add new catagories navigate to Knowledge Base -> Article Categories.
From there, you can add the category name, set the category slug, set a parent category, add a description and set the category access. You can choose between setting the category access to Public or Logged in. This helps you in restricting access to articles under specific categories that you don’t want the public to see.
To arrange the order of the knowledge base categories on the front-end, navigate to Knowledge Base -> Category Ordering. Simply, drag and drop the categories to change their order.
Adding knowledge base articles
To add articles, navigate to Knowledge Base – > Add New Article. The article editor is very similar to the defualt WordPress editor.
You will see new meta boxes that allows you to:
- Add article tags
- Show the article statistics (views, rating and number of attachements)
- Add attachements to articles. You can do this to allow the user to download any type of file. For example, a patch or an add-on file. You also have the option to open the attachement in a new page
- Enable or diable voting on the article
- Controling the number of votes and feedback to show on the front-end
Heroic Shortcodes come handy in formatting and styling your articles. Most of the visitors of any knowledge base scan the articles to find a specific piece of information. Writing your knowledge base articles with the proper styling makes it easier to find what the users want.
Heroic Shortcodes allow you to add layouts and messages. The layouts give you the option to add an accordion, tabs or toggle.
Here are how the accordion and tabs layout look like in the front-end:
There are four predefined Heroic Shortcode message styles:
- Alert (Yellow)
- Success (Green)
- Danger (Red)
- Information (Blue)
This is how the Danger message looks like in the front end:
Customizing KnowAll Theme
You can customize KnowAll to your liking from the default WordPress customizer. This is a plus in my opinion, as you get to see the changes you are applying to the style of the theme in real time.
I will not delve into all the customization options, they are too many to cover in this post. Here is an example of the customization options available for the header:
As you can see in the screenshot above, you can add your logo, set a background image, etc.
KnowAll provides three widget areas:
- Sidebar – Home, displayed on the home page.
- Sidebar – Article, displayed on article pages.
- Sidebar – Category, displayed on the home page and on the category pages.
Know All offers six widgets that you can add:
- Knowledge Base Articles
- Knowledge Base Authors
- Knowledge Base Categories
- Knowledge Base Exit Point
- Knowledge Base Search
- Knowledge Base Table of Content
I have added the search widget to the home sidebar. This is how it looks on the front-end:
Knowledge Base Article Analytics
Generally, analytics gives insights on what needs to be improved. For example, if you have many users reading a particular article. This is an indication that your clients are having difficulties in using this feature of your product/service.
To check the analytics that KnowAll provides, navigate to Knowledge Base -> Analytics. You will see 4 tabs (Dashboard, Feedback, Search, Transfers) that give you insights of the knowledge base performance.
KnowAll analytics provides rich data that you can use:
- Feedback: Displays the analytics of the users feedback on articles whether they found it useful or not. Additionally, show the users comments. This allows you to determine which articles need to be updated as they might be not clear for your users.
- Search: Shows the analytics of the keywords that the users use to search the knowledge base. This helps you to know what your users are struggling with. Giving you the chance to write articles based these keywords to help your clients make the most of your product/service.
- Transfers: Displays the overall number of transfers to your support system.Furthermore, it lets you know which articles the user was on when they decided to click on the support link.
HeroThemes use the KnowAll theme for their knowledgebase. It would have been really weird if they didn’t do so! KnowAll documentation is super-clear. I used it to write this article.
Priced at $149 for one year of updates and support for a single site, I must say that this is relatively high. It is true that you can go with cheaper options. Yet, you will not get all the features that KnowAll provides.
In the matter of fact, Hero Themes offer other knowledge base themes that come in different price categories:
- KnowHow @$59 for 6 months of support and a year of updates for a single site.
- SupportDesk @$69 for 6 months of support and a year of updates for a single site.
- HelpGuru @$99 for 6 months of support and a year of updates for a single site.
This is a comparison between the different knowledge base themes that Hero Themes provide. After checking this comparison table, you can determine wich theme is the best fit for you based on your needs.
Must say that KnowAll has all the primary knowledge base theme features you need. Writing, styling and categorizing articles is a smooth experience. On top of that, you get some fancy; yet important features like setting some categories to be private and measuring the quality of your knowledge base using the KnowAll analytics.
If you are using KnowAll to run your knowledge base or even other WordPress knowledge base themes, don’t hesitate to share your experience with us in the comments section below.