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What is Knowledge Base Software?

A Definition of Knowledge Base Software

The two main types of knowledge base software (or platforms) are machine readable and human readable. The machine-readable knowledge bases enable machines to learn. This article will discuss human-readable knowledge bases.

Knowledge base software is a system used to author, edit, organize, and publish a group of documents. Its purpose is to make it easy for people to find solutions to their problems without having to ask a person for help. These platforms contain information such as:

  • Troubleshooting guides
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Video demonstrations
  • Manuals
  • Introductory articles
  • Glossaries

Some knowledge bases are built around artificial intelligence (AI) which enables learning from interactions and from users’ input.

Benefits of Knowledge Base Software

In businesses today, a searchable, public-facing (no login needed) knowledge base is very important to providing efficient customer service. Most consumers prefer to find their own answer, as opposed to having a customer service agent find the answer for them. Other benefits include:

  • Retains hard-won customers
  • Reduces employee overhead costs
  • Improves customer service
  • Provides customer education

Many companies also have internal knowledge bases. These help with:

  • Onboarding new employees
  • Improving productivity
  • Understanding company policies
  • Preserving knowledge
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Assisting remote employees

Features of Knowledge Base Software

Based on our related research on knowledge base platforms, we’ve come up with an ordered list of the most common tool features:

Search Function – Supports a knowledge-base wide search function.

Public Facing / Accessible Self Help – This quality is part of our definition of what makes a customer knowledge base applicable to this list. So virtually every technical documentation platform that we evaluate will have this attribute. But there are some platforms that focus entirely on internal-only documentation.

Flexible Hierarchy – A flexible hierarchy is one that allows you to decide how many layers of organization exist in the knowledge base. Some systems, like Zendesk, have three layers hard coded: Categories, Sections, Articles. Other systems are more flexible, and allow more (or fewer) levels of organizational depth.

Rich Text Editor – Allows creation of documents containing text, charts, grids, videos, and images. Usually written in JavaScript, Rich Text Editors are effective programs used as standalone applications or as web-based elements.

Attach Files to Articles – Allows article editors and authors to attach files to articles so that users can download those files.

Multiple Business Roles (SMEs, Developers, Admins, Editors, etc.) – Different roles may have different access needs, and it can be important to restrict users to the proper content for security, compliance, and usability reasons. If you run an organization with many contributing roles, make sure they are supported in the business access roles that exist in your chosen knowledge management solution.

Easy Article Linking – In the article editor, this feature makes it very easy to insert links to other existing articles in the knowledge base.

Analytics for Providing Insights – These are essential information to further help you evaluate which areas of your service or product customers need the most help with. Depending on the analytics capabilities, you can examine which authors are getting the most traffic or engagement on their content and you can see which topics are most frequently searched for.

Multi-Language Support – Again, this feature is highly dependent on your target market. You may not ever need to translate out of English if you don’t plan on going global. But if you do, you’ll need to make absolutely sure your support content can handle many language versions.

Application Programming Interface Enhancement – A RESTful application program interface allows you to develop your own extensions and applications on top of their existing platform.

Mobile Support – It is becoming increasingly important to provide information and services to mobile users, comparable to what they would find on a desktop computer.

Version / Revision Control – This is something Authors rarely think about in practice but it can be a critical part of a large database of support content with many authors. You’ll want a system of merging different changes from different sources, and tracking who is working on what content. There may even be version numbers associated with each article version, etc.

To find a knowledge-base software tool that fits your needs simply complete our custom knowledge base platforms survey that allows you to input your own importance rating for each feature.

Popular Knowledge Base Software

According to our comprehensive research, the most well-liked tools are listed below, in order of popularity:

  1. Confluence
  2. Freshdesk
  3. MindTouch
  4. UseResponse
  5. RoboHelp
  6. PHPKB
  7. Teamwork Desk
  8. ReadMe

Today, it is becoming critical to improve customers and employees' digital experiences. Knowledge-base software goes a long way to achieving that goal.

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