The Essential Types of Content for Your Knowledge Base

The contents in a knowledge base can vary from documents, to guides, to videos. But, how do you find the right content types for your knowledge base that fulfils your needs? Let's find out...

The Essential Types of Content for Your Knowledge Base

Imagine you’re on a road trip without a map or GPS. You might stop to ask for directions,  take random turns, or even face dead ends. Eventually, when you reach your destination, after all the wrong turns and unnecessary stress, you’ll regret not having a map along the way.  

Similarly, navigating new software or trying to understand company operations without proper guidance can be overwhelming and inefficient. This is why creating a well-structured knowledge base is necessary, which acts as a map, guiding users through the process. Whether the process is easy or difficult, the map should guide the user efficiently.  

The efficiency level boils down to the types of content used in the knowledge base. But how do you know what types of content to use? That’s decided by two factors - Your product’s complexity and its technicality.

Product Complexity

This describes the learning curve of your product, whether is it easy to learn and use the features or not. For instance, a low-complexity product is intuitive and straightforward, requiring minimal instruction or explanations. In contrast, a high-complexity product involves features and functions that users might need guidance for.

Product Technicality

This describes the range of technical knowledge required like coding to use the product. Less technical products can be used without specialized technical skills, while highly technical products may require users to have a certain level of technical expertise.

For example, Trainn is built to be user-friendly and easy to use without any coding skills required (a shameless plug, I know), so we can say Trainn has a low product complexity and technicality.

Meanwhile, pretty much any tool that heavily relies on a code-based interface, like Snowflake and Datadog has a high product complexity and technicality and requires users to have good coding knowledge.

Now that we know what these terms mean, let’s look at how they help with deciding the type of content for your knowledge base.

Low complexity and technicality

For products that are both easy to learn and use and require basic to no technical skills, then a straightforward knowledge base with simple guides and bite-sized videos to cover the basic features is more than enough.

High complexity or technicality

If the product is highly complex to learn or requires an average to a high degree of technical knowledge, then the knowledge base needs to be intricate with a mix of text documents, guides, and videos. Detailed documentation provides in-depth information on all aspects of the product, be it product features or technical details.

Videos and interactive guides offer visual demonstrations of both basic and advanced features. They can also be used to complement the documents.

With that said, let’s look at how these content types can be used for different purposes in a knowledge base:

1. Documents

Documents are the backbone of the knowledge base, providing a structured way to communicate essential information about various aspects of products, services, and organizational protocols. These pieces of content are meticulously organized and crafted to break down intricate details into understandable chunks. Documents can be crafted into FAQs, glossaries, policies, product manuals, and release notes.

a. FAQs

In the FAQ section, you will find answers to some common questions that people might find useful such as, ”What is the subscription period?” “number of days for delivery of product?” etc.

This section provides straightforward and quick information for the users, instead of waiting for responses from the customer support team.

FAQs in an Internal Knowledge Base

Employees use this, to get queries about certain company policies such as leave entitlements, benefits, and payroll.  

FAQs in an External knowledge base

For customers, it clarifies common queries that users have about products or services or any procedure during pre or post-purchase, Which includes installation or account setup.

b. Glossaries

Do you remember turning to the glossary of your textbooks to find the meanings of difficult words? Similarly, the glossary in a knowledge base helps users by explaining technical or complex terms for those who find it new.

Personio, an all-in-one HR platform aimed at European SMEs, created an HR lexicon. Its HR glossary pages offer comprehensive definitions, strategies, and templates for today's important HR topics.

Glossaries in an Internal Knowledge Base

It includes terms related to the system, processes, and industry-specific keywords. For instance, a tech company might maintain a glossary that explains some terms that are used company-wide, so that everyone is on the same page.

Glossaries in an External Knowledge Base

Sometimes, customers can find it difficult to understand certain product features if technical terms are used to explain them. Having glossaries helps customers understand such terms. This way, when a customer is exploring a new product and encounters difficult terms, then the glossary can be a quick reference to it.

c. Company guidelines

This is an internal knowledge base specific document that contains the company’s official rules and regulations. These documents provide clear instructions on how to conduct themselves, handle specific situations, and adhere to operational protocols. This helps in creating a harmonious and productive workplace where everyone knows what is expected of them and operates within established boundaries.

d. Product manuals

It is a tech-savvy friend who explains everything clearly, from setting up and operating the products to solving any hiccups on the way. This helps the users to understand the product features, usage, and troubleshooting, making them unlock the full potential of the product or services. For example, Slack has provided a complete manual on letting users know how to use their tool’s features.

Manuals in an Internal Knowledge Base

It provides information about the tools, systems, and products used within an organization that employees can utilize efficiently. These manuals help train employees, especially the customer support roles by familiarizing them with every aspect of the product, ensuring that they can assist customers and resolve inquiries promptly.

Manuals in an External Knowledge Base

Product manuals act as a key in understanding steps or instructions on product installation and its usage so that it enhances customer experience and satisfaction.

e. Release notes

Release notes are documents that notify users with detailed summaries of the latest enhancements, bug fixes, and changes implemented in each software update.  You can have a look at how Humly notifies the updates made with detailed summaries.

Release notes in an Internal Knowledge Base

It's crucial to keep the team updated about the improvements made to the systems, tools, or products, to have the daily operational goals aligned.

  • The sales team uses release notes to help with their sales pitches.
  • The customer support team uses them to assist customers with the latest information.
  • The marketing team refers to the release notes to help them write content.

Release notes in an External Knowledge Base

It's crafted to keep users updated on the newest features, improvements, and fixes in products or services, enabling them to understand the advantages of recent updates.

2. Guides

Guides act as instructors, designed to transform complex tasks into simple steps. They help you accomplish specific tasks easier with step-by-step instructions. They’re created by providing screenshots of each step and highlighting key actions in each step.

While instructional guides help provide role-based training to employees and train customers to use product features, they can come off as not engaging. This can push people away from using these guides.

Interactive guides are here to solve that problem. Interactive guides bring active participation in each step by highlighting the necessary actions and making the user click to proceed further. This helps the users quickly grasp and fully utilize the product, without any reliance on the customer support team.

But how should you use guides in your knowledge base? Let’s see some use cases -

a. Tips and best practices

Guides can be used to educate users with tips that help them use the product and internal tools more effectively. This encourages employees to be more productive and for customers to use the product more.

Check out how Monday has provided best practices for adding board subscribers -

Monday best practices

b. Troubleshooting

This is your go-to resource when technical glitches disrupt your workflow. They provide resolving instructions for common issues like connectivity or software bugs. These are designed to make the daunting task of problem-solving more approachable. Bold Desk is a great example forproviding step-by-step instructions to effectively troubleshoot issues.

Bold Desk troubleshooting

c. Process standardization

This guide provides instructions that enable users to complete routine tasks. In organizational settings, guides ensure consistency in workflows and adherence to best practices. They outline standardized procedures for tasks like project management, customer support, or compliance with industry regulations.

3. Videos

In any kind of learning experience, videos stand out as dynamic and engaging tools for conveying information. They capture attention with vibrant visuals and clear narrations and also simplify complex steps through practical demonstrations.

Whenever you’re short on time and need a quick refresher on a detailed document, then videos come in clutch. Videos can exist inside documents or as standalone resources within a knowledge base. You can also convert guides into a video format if your customers would rather watch a 1-minute video than go through a guide.

It is more powerful when you ask a customer to listen to a 1-minute product video rather than a 24 to 30 minute video altogether or make him read a solution article
Vinay Prasad Testimonial

Videos can be used in:

a. Product demonstrations

Videos showcase product features, functionalities, and benefits in action. Product demo videos highlight key selling points and help potential customers or users visualize how the product or service works in real-world scenarios.

Asana product demo

b. Onboarding new users

Onboarding videos introduce new users to the basics of using a product or service. They provide clear, visual instructions on how to set up accounts, navigate dashboards, and access essential features. This visual approach is not only more engaging than reading through lengthy manuals but also helps to ensure that users understand and retain the information better. An ideal example, Bolt, created a short teaser about the company, its history, team members, and their culture.

c. Discovering new product features

When new features or fixes are introduced to a product, product videos for marketing provide an easy and engaging way to see how it works. This walks users through each step, highlighting the benefits and practical uses, which enables users to grasp the new features quickly and sparks excitement in trying out the latest fixes or features. Canva, for example, showcases video demonstrations of their new features and integrations.

Canva new features videos

One downside with videos is the time and effort needed to create them. After all, not everyone on your team can be an expert in video editing, right? With Trainn, video creation for your knowledge base has never been easier. Create videos, complete with AI voiceovers, automated zooms, transitions, spotlights, blur, and more within minutes. No editing experience is needed.

A well-constructed knowledge base guides users through the complexities of information with ease. Whether it's for an employee trying to understand internal processes or a customer seeking help with a product, the diverse content.

From text-rich documents to interactive guides and videos, a knowledge base helps you provide the clarity and support needed in the most helpful way possible. Understand your audience and your product, create content in the appropriate formats, and add them to your knowledge base.

Choosing the right types of content is important to build your knowledge base, similarly, it’s equally important to know how to choose the right knowledge base for your organization. That’s why we’ve made a comprehensive Guide on Knowledge Base Software [2024] to help you give you everything you’d need to decide on a knowledge base software. Check it out!

Chethna NK

PUBLISHED ON: 7/9/2024