Knowledge bases. Every SaaS platform needs one, but how do you know your approach to creating and hosting your help center is providing the maximum value to your customers? What features are most important in a self-service portal?
At Doakio, our specialty is creating high-value customer-facing knowledge bases for SaaS companies. We’ve already put together a comprehensive list of every knowledge base platform we could find. But we had to go deeper in order to help our clients make intelligent decisions on which knowledge management platform was best for their particular needs.
Asking the Knowledge Base Companies Themselves
So, we reached out to the world’s top performing self-help publishing SaaS companies and asked them each two basic questions:
- “What are the most important or popular features that SaaS companies should look for in a knowledge base platform?”
- “What unique features make your knowledge base system really stand out?”
We’ve captured their fantastic insights in this article (click here to jump to their responses).
Based on their answers and based on our own extensive experience in the technical documentation space, we also accumulated a list of 40 attributes that every SaaS company should consider when choosing a customer-facing technical documentation platform.
Any company looking for a technical documentation support solution or knowledge base platform should consider going through each item on this list one by one to determine how important each feature is for their particular use case. We put together a free survey that facilitates this process of evaluating in-depth a company’s technical knowledge base support platform needs. We highly recommend scheduling an hour-long meeting with cross-department representation from your support teams, marketing teams, security teams, or sales teams for the purpose of evaluating each feature.
Not only does this process ensure you end up with a platform that is a good fit, but it also gives all participants a sense of buy-in which will help with deploying and implementing the support solution in your organization.
Master List of Knowledge Base Platform Features
- Public Facing Self Help
- Internal Employee Knowledge Base
- Support Ticket System
- Project Management Features
- Live Chat Features
- Multiple Brands in One Account
- Self-Hosting Available
- Domain Whitelabel Option
- Article Version Control
- Real Time Article Collaboration
- Author / Editor Commentary
- Article Reader Feedback / Scoring
- Localization / Translation / Languages
- Article Change History
- Article Drafting After Publication
- Variable Hierarchy Tiers
- Search Function
- Incremental Search
- Search Synonyms
- Help Content Optimized for SEO
- WYSIWYG Editor
- Full HTML Code Editing
- Customizable Navigation & Main Menu
- Article Public Comments / Discussion
- Data Export for Backups & Migration
- Integrations with Other Platforms
- Formal ISO Standard Support
- Multiple Business Roles (SMEs, Developers, Admins, Editors, etc.)
- XML Format Support
- High Style / Appearance Customization
- Embeddable Widgets / Contextual Help / In-App Messaging
- Built-in Glossary
- Single Sign On Support
- Article Suggestions on Contact Forms
- Multiple Format Export
- Insights and Analytics
- Revision Workflow Built-in
- Article Tags
- Built-in Backup & Restore / Rollback
Feedback From the Experts in Knowledge Base Software
We’re very grateful to all the CEOs, Directors, Managers, and other experts who responded to make this article possible. We reached out to more than 50 platforms, and only these knowledge base companies responded. I believe this speaks to their customer-focused company culture, their openness, and their willingness and eagerness to help. One very important attribute that we did not include in the feature list above was the level of support and responsiveness behind the knowledge base software. If you see the knowledge base software named in this roundup post, chances are they have top-tier support for their platform!
The most important features that SaaS companies should look for in a knowledge base platform are:
- Self-Service Portal: a place where users can look for answers to their questions
- CSAT: customer satisfaction rating, with an ability to vote for the article which gives internal teams an understanding if each article is helpful for users
- Categories and Subcategories: create a knowledge base with a hierarchical structure
- Two types of knowledge base content: divides knowledge base content into Articles (manuals) and FAQs (shorter answers and how to’s)
- Embeddable articles: an embeddable widget containing a relevant article on your web page or mobile application
The main features that sets apart UseResponse knowledge base software are:
- Multi-lingual: ability to create a separate knowledge base for each language
- Multi-brand: can create a separate knowledge base for each product from your company
- Internal and External: create a public knowledge base for your customers, or a private for your internal teams
- Self-hosted: our solution has a self-hosted package which is helpful for strict data storage requirements or custom development use cases
- All-in-one solution: knowledge base by UseResponse is a part of an ecosystem along with feedback, live chat and feedback modules that could be used separately or in combination with any other modules.
Marketing Manager at UseResponse
The way we see it, as the primary task is to enable knowledge sharing, the most important features are: being able to post content quickly, and to find it back easily.
These kind of platforms become more valuable the more content is added. That way, people know they can find everything they need in the system, which saves everyone a lot of time. It also encourages people to check the platform for updates, use it more often, and therefore contribute to building out the knowledge site themselves. When it’s difficult or slow to post new content, people post less often, content becomes stale, meaning people won’t visit the site, causing them to post even less.
This seems to be the fate for many of the corporate intranet systems of old, which were often clunky to use, or required input from IT to make changes. So before all the other bells and whistles, we see having an easy to use editor which enables a modern appealing knowledge site as one of the most important features of a platform.
What makes Papyrs stand out as unique? As mentioned above, improving engagement and encouraging people to contribute to knowledge systems is how they grow. Having an easy to use editor was an important part of the design for Papyrs. Everybody can create all kinds of pages with drag & drop features, from text-heavy documentation pages in the style of a wiki, to interactive pages with widgets like polls, discussions, videos, and custom forms (for structured data and collecting requests). There is also a complete version history, so people can always roll back changes, or get notified when content has been updated.
In terms of finding data back quickly, Papyrs has find-as-you-type search (incremental search) which looks through all content in pages, discussions, and uploaded document files. People can also customize the site’s navigation and menu bar for quick access to most the popular content.
As Papyrs is used in many different settings, from remote teams sharing all their documentation internally, to organizations sharing knowledge with outside clients, we also offer permission settings which allow you to choose who can access what (business role controls). Another important feature for data portability is integrating with other platforms, and an export feature in case you ever need to get your data out again.
Even as technical authors, our emphasis should be on the customer experience before the authoring environment. There’s little point writing great content if customers cannot access the content. So the content must be quickly accessible, searchable and written in a clear and consistent manner.
From the authoring perspective, a technical authoring solution needs to be:
- Appreciative to the fact that technical content is not just related to the technical side of the business but can also positively (and negatively) affect other parts of the business such as sales, marketing, support, etc.
- Using an industry standard so the content is future proof. As it’s now affordable to use a standard, it would be foolish to invest in a product that you know will cause major, expensive migration somewhere later down the line.
- Easy to use for authors.
- Collaboration so others can add content and give content. There needs to be different types of collaborations relating to different people of the organization such as SMEs, developers, editors, management, etc. This is a growing trend in the market.
- Trusted publishing platform that provides trustworthy output. In other words, the days of tweaking output should be history and when you click ‘Publish’ you get exactly what you expect.
- Open to the outside with a flexible way to add new features to the KB such as adding widgets, embedding other types of content (such as 3D graphics).
Here are some of our outstanding features, when put together make a quite unique system in this industry for power with simplicity:
- XML-based cloud solution that offers powerful features with a friendly interface – normally these two are polar opposites in this market.
- Integrated server and database architecture in the background available for a simple monthly license fee. Enterprise-level functionality for companies of any size, from the smallest to the largest enterprises.
- All the tools needed in one platform – authoring, collaboration, publishing, translation management, and version management.
- Cloud-based, so no need to install applications, will work on any OS and updates are immediately available to everyone.
- Awesome reuse features like reuse text fragments, multi-dimensional variables and filters, etc. They allow your content to be reused in many different publications and outputs.
- Highly customizable output to create modern results that match a customer’s styling requirements.
- Management appreciates the great efficiencies that Paligo directly affects such as reduced translation costs, quick multi-channel publishing and inherent consistency within the writing team due to structure authoring.
Client Engagement Specialist at Paligo.
We hate to generalize, because the truth is you should look for the features that are most important to you. But for SaaS companies, some of the features that are usually the most useful are:
- Flexible architecture and customizable branding style. Your knowledge base is an extension of your product. Having a platform that lets you maintain a consistent look and feel – that gives you a lot of flexibility in the information architecture and navigation you want to provide your customers. This is key to keeping your documentation consistent with the rest of your product. Support for private/customized domains is also helpful.
- Options for embeddable widgets/contextual help. I was a KnowledgeOwl customer at a SaaS company before I worked here, and adding contextual help was a game-changer for us. One of the big concerns with adopting a knowledge base is trying to get your customers to actually use the awesome documentation you’re creating. Having ways to embed relevant knowledge base content on specific pages in your app (in a widget, a pop-up, via API calls, etc.) can drive much higher documentation usage and make your product feel a lot more user-friendly.
- Ease of use, with both WYSIWYG editor and straight HTML content editing options. A lot of the SaaS companies we work with have both technical writers and developers creating or editing documentation. Non-developers often prefer a WYSIWYG but a lot of developers prefer straight code. Having both options can encourage more users to create and edit documentation comfortably, which improves the quality of your content.
- Support for both internal and external documentation. Often, the initial drive for a knowledge base platform is for customer-facing documentation, but over time it becomes the natural place for other knowledge, such as developer documentation. Having the option to either a) quickly spin up an additional knowledge base, or b) mix internal-only and external content in the same KB can be really helpful.
Our Support is what makes KnowledgeOwl really standout. I know this isn’t a software feature, but it is what sets us apart. Since day one, KnowledgeOwl has made customer support our top priority. All of our roadmap prioritization and development is driven by customer request, and we pride ourselves on quick and responsive support. We offer a fair amount of complimentary support to answer questions, help with branding/style customizations, or think through taxonomy and layout. There’s no complex process to talk to a person, and we don’t outsource support.
One Product, One Focus. A lot of knowledge bases are add-ons to other products, like help ticketing software, where it’s clear the primary product and development focus is not on the knowledge base. At KnowledgeOwl, this is our only product, so we solve a lot of the problems directly that other tools prompt you to find workarounds for.
Aside from that, some of our favorite features are our customizability (you can add custom CSS and custom HTML to your knowledge base overall as well as individual articles/categories); our embeddable widget; our customizable administrative roles and content restrictions; our flexible architecture (we won’t limit you to a set number of hierarchical levels in organizing your content); defining search synonyms; our built-in glossary with highlighting; integrations with SSO/SAML for easier access management; and our transparent pricing structure.
Support Sorceress & Cheese Monger
Information available on a knowledge base is different from other forms of documentation. There are several things to look for in a great knowledge base system.
First, a knowledge base topic focuses on only one idea because this makes the information easy to understand and find. Second, the length of the knowledge base topic is short as it focuses more on the how instead of the what. Third, knowledge base topics are presented through a conversational style to provide the reader with an informal, direct and effective way of getting the information.
Searching and retrieving content from a knowledge base is the most common method of delivering information to the reader. User-friendly knowledge bases display the Search box in the center of the page and give simple hints on how to perform a search that yields useful results. Presentation of the search results is also an important characteristic of a knowledge base because the information becomes very noticeable to the user at a glance.
A truly effective and useful knowledge base is characterized by easily searchable information, solid structured content and an ability to provide accurate and usable content where the reader is able to make sense of the information and resolve issues. The effectiveness of the knowledge base is also characterized by the timeliness of its content and its ability to provide a specific solution to a specific issue.
KBPublisher’s unique features that make it stand out are:
- Easy and intuitive to use. Fast, lean and mean. Those are the keywords for KBPublisher.
- Convenient Article Drafts. Modify existing published articles without interfering with live publications.
- Automated Workflow. Automate processes for reviewing, approving, and publishing articles.
- Single Sign On LDAP authentication, SAML integration, Social authentication.
At HelpSite, we believe that the following are key features that SaaS companies should look for in knowledge base platforms:
- Great Search. Search results should be both relevant and fast.
- Great WYSIWYG Editor. Most editors where you type your content is clunky and hard to use. Find a great one since you’ll be spending many hours writing content in it.
- Customizable branding. Domain name, look-and-feel, HTML/CSS.
HelpSite users love that we are the simplest way to get a hosted knowledge base online. Unlike our main competitors who often focus on help desk ticketing and a thousand other features, we exclusively focus on helping you create a knowledge base.
Our users also love our UI, how well our WYSIWYG editor works, and that the help sites they can publish are mobile friendly and have very fast and effective search. Finally, we offer a smart contact form, which helps reduce customer support queries by suggesting relevant articles as the user is typing their message.
We are also affordable, even offering a completely free plan that supports custom domains.
SaaS companies should look at their requirements first. Do they want to have an internal article repository, or a customer-facing one? They should examine the UI, see how easy it is to find what they’re looking for, to upload files, etc. What happens when their team grows or more products are added? A knowledge base should have lots of organization, customization, authentication options – so that everything works smoothly with their company.
We get told that Helprace is a very simple and intuitive customer service software. What really sets Helprace apart is the lengths we went to integrate the knowledge base with the email-based help desk. Our software is also very popular with small businesses and startups – those who want to collect feedback or build an audience around their product.
When building a knowledge base, SaaS companies should make sure that every aspects of the product is documented and up-to-date in order to lower support costs. They also should make sure that the knowledge base is accessible to the end-users no matter what device they are using.
HelpNDoc is a single source help and documentation authoring environment. While working and updating the documentation project, HelpNDoc provides powerful features to simplify the process: an advanced project analyzer to fix common mistakes, a live spell checker, conditional content generation based on topic status, output format or custom tags.
Once the documentation is written, it can be exported to multiple documentation formats without additional efforts, thus providing plenty of options for the end-user: responsive HTML web-sites, Word or PDF documents, ePub or Kindle eBooks, CHM or Qt help files. All those generated formats can be fully customized thanks to the powerful template system built into HelpNDoc, allowing seamless integration of the knowledge base in an existing product of web-site.
CEO of IBE Software, creator of HelpNDoc
Analytics, Search, Customizability is absolutely key. Without those 3 you may as well use WordPress, which is a good solution for under 100 searches per month, but if you plan on actually getting usage, want to understand how to make it better, and have a good user experience, those 3 features are key.
We’ve been building Helpjuice for over 8 years now, and our ONLY mission is to be the #1 knowledge base platform in the world. We deliver this with our three amazing approaches: product, pricing and support. Our product is super-slick, simple, and powerful (our analytics will tell you data on your KB that will make you wonder how we do it; our search is Google-like, and our customization is as good as an open source platform but it it’s not open source).
Our pricing is dead-simple and affordable as we only have 2 plans: Limited and Unlimited. And finally, our Support is rockstar status, as we personally onboard every single client and help them by importing their existing content, as well as customizing it – all free of charge, to make sure they are more successful with their knowledge base goals.
The most important features to look for in a knowledge base platform are:
- Powerful search – The search bar should be visible and should perform a quick search matching all the words which are searched.
- Navigation – Users should be able to easily navigate their way in and out of the knowledge base. You could use widgets like Table of Contents, Breadcrumbs etc.,
- Content Restriction – In a company knowledge base, content must be restricted, so that only logged in users and only members of a particular team have access to the contents.
Helpie knowledge base stands out from the crowd because in addition to having most important features, it gives you more power packed and useful features like,
- Front-end Editor – You could Add and Edit contents from the Front-end of the KB with a Text and Media rich editor.
- Multi-tier Content Restriction – You can restrict access not only for logged in users, topics but also for every single page and to every single user.
- Revision System – Reviewers can go through current and previous revisions and publish any of the available revisions.
- Powerful search – The search bar should be visible and should perform a quick search matching all the words which are searched.
- Navigation – Users should be able to easily navigate their way in and out of the knowledge base. You could use widgets like Table of Contents, Breadcrumbs etc.,
- Branding and Styling – Use your creativity to customise to your Brand’s styling and change template layouts.
- Insights – It has useful insights like what users are searching, which content is Most Liked, Most Read, Most Disliked etc., so that you know if your knowledge base contents are useful or not.
Helpie Knowledge base Use cases:
With Helpie you can easily manage (create, edit, review, organize, label, and share) knowledge within small teams, large organisations or with the public. It can be mainly used as,
1. Product Documentation – Helpie gives you optimized the search system to work super fast even with thousands of articles in your knowledge base. So your customers can find the answers they need, quickly.
2. Internal Wiki – Allow only logged in users on your internal wiki and you can restrict access to specific topics to specific WordPress user roles. You can also add password protection to specific topics.\
3. Customer Self-service portal – It can be used to store and share customer self-help articles for businesses.
4. Creating Wikipedia like WordPress site – Helpie gives you an easy way to create, edit and review wiki articles Collaborating on content becomes so much easier with our new Medium.com like editor, revision system and publishing capabilities.
Marketing Manager, HelpieWP
Help and Manual
The most important features to look for in a knowledge base platform are:
- Ease of use: Does a new knowledge base author get a familiar environment to work in and can they get up to speed quickly and easily? The Help+Manual is similar to a standard word processor.
- Updating: Can the knowledge base be updated quickly with new information? Changes to WebHelp generated by Help+Manual are made centrally and once they are on the web server all users can access them instantly.
- Editable design: Can the user interface of the knowledge base be edited easily? Is it possible to add your own features? Help+Manual WebHelp is template based. A wide range of professionally-designed, configurable “skins” are available. In addition to this, all templates, stylesheets and scripts are user-editable.
Help and Manual stands out from the crowd because of the following features:
- Ease of use: Most users praise how easy it is to use Help+Manual compared to other systems.
- Reliability and support: Help+Manual is a mature application that authors have depended on for over twenty years. Support is fast and personal, delivered by the people who developed the program and wrote the documentation. When problems do arise they are generally solved very quickly, often overnight.
- Output formats: All bases are covered with support for WebHelp, CHM, PDF, DOCX, Kindle, ePub, Windows eBooks and Visual Studio documentation formats.
- Flexibility: Users love the ability to publish to any output format at any time, including support for multiple tables of contents and including and excluding content on any level.
- Team support: Team members can collaborate on the same projects both in the same office and remotely, thanks to both native multi-user editing and active support for version-control-based collaboration.
- Localization and translation: Plain text 100% XML projects that can be processed directly by translation memory systems.
Head of Documentation and Support,
Help and Manual
The most important or popular features of Document360 are as follows:
Rich Editor: Document360 comes with a clean Markdown editor (built pretty much from scratch) giving seamless experience for the authors to focus purely on the content and not worry too much about formatting.
Category Manager: Organising your articles is the core of any knowledge base solution. Document360 comes with intutive treeview based category manager with options like drag & drop, unlimited hierarchy, hide and rename.
Backup & Restore: Ability to roll back to any previous version like a time machine. Accidents do happen when multiple people are involved in your knowledge base. Document360 backup/restore will help you to restore to previous good copies.
Version Control: Your knowledge base articles are not static. It requires regular enhancements. Traditional knowledge bases just overwrites the content without any history. Document360 however maintains the full history and give option to restore to any previous versions if required.
Real time Search: These days people do not navigate your knowledge base, rather they want to search and find the relevant content. Document360 comes with super powerful real time search capability.
Detailed Descriptions of Support Content Software Attributes and Features
Public Facing 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.
Internal Employee Knowledge Base
This feature lets companies create support content that is not intended for public consumption. This is important when you have business processes you want to describe, or when your own support team needs some quick and dirty content that isn’t polished for the public.
Support Ticket System
If a platform has a support ticket system, then it can more tightly integrate the self-help content with full email support. But this can also be a drawback if you don’t need the ticketing system. Companies that focus just on knowledge base systems often can dedicate more resources to perfecting that specialty. It all depends on what your SaaS company needs.
Project Management Features
Like with the ticketing system, some platforms will have additional project management features that go well beyond help articles. One example is Atlassian, who has the Confluence knowledge base product and Jira for project management. Not many help center companies will attempt to tackle the project management space, but some have grown in the opposite direction over time.
Live Chat Features
Some SaaS platforms started out as live-chat-only then added in additional support content (Intercom for example). Depending on your customer expectations and company promise, you may need to include live chat support in your support landscape. Platforms that have this built in can be an advantage or a distraction depending on your company’s position.
Multiple Brands in One Account
If your company has a large or diverse set of offerings under one umbrella, it can be very helpful to have a technical documentation platform that supports multiple brand identities under one master account. The workaround for this would be creating separate accounts (one for each brand) with bespoke billing arrangements. So when you have the need, it’s nice to avoid those complexities with a platform that can handle different design variations and brands.
Usually, the hosting part of the technical documentation SaaS offering is baked right in. It’s easier, far less complicated, and can be more secure if you don’t have dedicated security resources in your company. But if you are approaching enterprise scale or if you have enterprise clients with high security requirements, then a knowledge base publishing solution that supports on-premise deployments might be a must-have.
Domain Whitelabel Option
This ensures consistent brand presentation, especially for the more tech-savvy customer base. In general, you don’t want to send your users to another web domain when they are consuming your support content. Some technical support documentation SaaS companies do have free versions of their software that comes with a sub-domain option (no white label domains on free accounts). Virtually all will let you use your own domain path (for example, support.example.com or www.example.com/support).
Article Version 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 associate with each article version, etc.
Real Time Article Collaboration
If you’ve ever used Google Docs to edit content with a team of authors and editors, then you’ll know how nice this feature can be. It’s totally unnecessary for one-man author teams, but if you ever have three or more people who are responsible for authoring or editing support help content, you may want to look for platforms that have something close to this.
Author / Editor Commentary
Another editing feature seen in Google Docs, the Author/Editor Commentary feature will let you make notes on an article without actually changing the content itself. This can be very handy during the workflow process, so much so that some teams start with Google Docs just for that feature alone. Again, this feature is almost useless for very small (or one-man) teams.
Article Reader Feedback / Scoring
When a user is done reading a support article, it should be trivial for them to immediately leave feedback on whether or not the support article met their needs. This is more important for SaaS support centers, and less important for knowledge base content published in other formats (PDF, DOCX, etc.). This feedback can quickly draw the attention of support teams to deficiencies in an article or user interface.
Localization / Translation / Languages
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.
Article Change History
This is different from Version Control in that the changes are simply logged as they occur. With a change history, there is no ability to roll back or merge content. It is nice to see what happened when, and by whom. Change history systems are more straight forward and simply retain saved drafts or publications.
Article Drafting After Publication
Can you make changes to a published article? It’s a basic function. But the ability to save those changes and preview them before publishing is important. Some may even have a public preview feature (no login required) so it’s easier to share tentative versions with external stakeholders.
Variable Hierarchy Tiers
Zendesk has three tiers of support content hierarchy hard coded. There are workarounds, but the ideal would be between zero and infinite levels of documentation structure. If you have a very small support center (under 10 articles) then zero is best. But if you have hundreds or even thousands of pieces of technical guides then you may need three, four, or even five levels of depth. Variable or unlimited hierarchy tiers gives you this flexibility.
I know it’s hard to believe that there are knowledge bases out there that don’t have a search feature, but it’s true. Search is king. It has been that way for a long time, and it isn’t likely to change. Your chosen platform must support effective search solutions, front and center.
This is the next level of search. Why make your users hit enter when they can see the results as they type? Google implemented this a long time ago, and if you plan on having a moderately sized knowledge base then you’ll want to consider making this a feature of your help journey.
Many customers don’t understand the correct terminology for the problems they are trying to solve. If your search feature supports synonyms then they’ll likely find what they need despite their own lack of technical vocabulary.
Help Content Optimized for SEO
What features does the platform support to ensure your help content is showing up in the SERPs? Many, many users jump straight to Google and drop in a help center name before entering their search query. You want to make absolutely sure that all of your on-page SEO elements are in place to rank for on-brand (and even off-brand) technical support searches.
Help content should be very easy to create, and you need a modern fully featured visual editor to facilitate the authorship process. Not everyone is a developer, and helping technical documentation authors create customer facing content is key to keeping customers engaged on the platform.
Full HTML Code Editing
There are times when you want to implement an obscure or highly customized HTML solution in your help center articles. In this case, you’ll need to go beyond visual editors and access the code directly. Most knowledge base platforms do support this.
Customizable Navigation & Main Menu
We usually don’t recommend re-inventing the wheel when it comes to menu locations. But at the same time, every platform has its own little idiosyncrasies. Matching your own platform’s menu interface to your knowledge base can ease usability issues. Custom navigation menus facilitate this blending of interfaces.
Article Public Comments / Discussion
Can your customers leave comments on your support articles? This can be a great way to let users expand on the utility of a piece of support content. But it does require additional support resources to monitor and moderate the user generated discussion. There are pros and cons to this approach.
Data Export for Backups & Migration
Often overlooked, but never a waste of time, off-site backups should be a mandatory in any company big or small. Make sure the platform you chose has the capability to export all of your content and structure so you can restore or rehost elsewhere if needed.
Integrations with Other Platforms
Think of all the operational software tools (SaaS and otherwise) that your company uses, and the benefits of sharing data between these tools. Look at the list of current and planned integrations for each knowledge base tool you are investigating to see if they have the integrations you need. Usually, support systems and project management software is high on list priority list for integrations.
Formal ISO Standard Support
Especially useful for larger companies, formalizing your support content structure can definitely help you smoothly migrate it to other enterprise systems. There are certifications available for full ISO standard compliance. These certifications may also open doors to working with certain government or enterprise clients.
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 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 chose knowledge management solution.
XML Format Support
Accommodates XML syntax for encoding web documents and web applications.
High Style / Appearance Customization
Can you customize the CSS for your entire knowledge base and/or for each particular category or article? This is an important feature that enables you to match your platform’s branding elements such as fonts, spacing, colors, buttons, and more.
Embeddable Widgets / Contextual Help / In-App Messaging
Most users these days will opt for live-chat or in-app messaging when looking for help. They are convenient, fast, and are most familiar to users since these are similar to what they use on a daily basis when exchanging messages. Embeddable widgets and contextual help, on the other hand, make it easier for a website to engage with visitors and basically point users to the answers to their questions.
Users that lack the knowledge when it comes to terminologies will benefit from a glossary in your support base. They may scan or browse through the terms and find what they need with the correct word.
Single Sign On Support
It’s annoying when you have to sign on multiple times just to get where you need to. Single sign on support is convenient because it increases productivity of users (since they don’t have to fuss about passwords), and reduces help desk costs because only a few users will have to ask for help to remember their passwords.
Article Suggestions on Contact Forms
Responding to support tickets take time and money, and it can be drastically reduced by simply adding article suggestions on contact forms. Dropdowns and menus categorizing their inquiry will help with the suggestions to assist users even before they send a ticket.
Multiple Format Export
Different knowledge bases need different kinds of data to analyze, but to do this, they all need a similar feature: to be able to export information in multiple formats. It can be Excel, PDF, CSV, etc.
Insights and Analytics
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.
Revision Workflow Built-in
This goes beyond version control and change history. Are you able to view, edit, collaborate, redraft, and publish older versions of a given article? You may not want to do this often, but it sure is nice to be able to refer to content that was removed from an older version. You never know how your interface may change over time, and old content can be a valuable source of inspiration or a good place to train new authors on the writing practices particular to your company’s knowledge base (training).
Another method of organizing content is with tags that can be used in various ways inside the knowledge base platform. Some systems like HelpJuice use tags as categories, so that one article can be accessed via more than one user navigation path. There are pros and cons to this approach, but if you need maximum versatility, then you’ll want an optional tagging system.
Built-in Backup & Restore / Rollback
It’s nice if you are able to create a restore point for your knowledge base so that if you do need to roll back to a previous version of your platform, you can roll back your help content as well. This shouldn’t be a replacement for off-site backups, but don’t discount the convenience of a built-in backup and restore function.