Suppose you run a business with a comprehensive product range. In that case, chances are you may be battling at times to manage all the FAQs, product information, and other data demanded by potential and existing customers. Mercifully, your life will become so much easier if you create a knowledge base website.
This article will show you how easy it is to create a knowledge base website in WordPress using an excellent plugin. Your website will go beyond a generic FAQ page and offer your customers an easily accessible, detailed knowledge base that will give them all the information they need about your company, industry, and products.
What is a Knowledge Base?
In the simplest terms, a knowledge base is a collection of documents aimed at providing information such as:
- Answers to common questions.
- Instructions and how-to guides.
- Help with troubleshooting.
- Company policies, legal terms, conditions of sale, privacy and cookie policies, etc.
Why Should You Have a Knowledge Base?
Giving your existing and potential customers the facility to quickly find the information and answers they need from your website will free up significant time for you and your staff. No longer will it be necessary to deal with customer queries individually.
Furthermore, nowadays, people increasingly prefer to find answers online rather than over the telephone. Therefore, having a robust knowledge base that is readily accessible will significantly enhance the user experience on your website. And as you probably already know, happy customers bring repeat business, write good reviews, and tell others about your company.
How To Create a Knowledge Base for Your Website
I’m now going to show you how quick and easy it is to create and manage a knowledge base for your WordPress website.
I will be using the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin developed by HeroThemes. This plugin allows you to add a user-friendly knowledge base to any WordPress existing or new site. Of course, there are other knowledge base plugins available, but in my opinion, Heroic Knowledge Base is one of the easiest to use and most versatile.
Key Features of the Heroic Knowledge Base WordPress Plugin
Heroic Knowledge Base is a tool specifically for creating a user-friendly, searchable web-based knowledge base that provides your customers answers to common questions. The plugin boasts the following key features:
- Add and edit articles, including attaching images and files
- Custom article categories, tags, slugs, and permalinks
- Article versioning with revisions
- Order and rearrange categories and articles using drag & drop
- Ability to collect feedback on articles from users*
- Search analytics*
- Responsive (works on all device types)
- Articles can be password protected or hidden. That allows you, for example, to block access to certain information from people who have not purchased your products or services
- AJAX live search gives users suggested answers as they type the search query
- WPML compatibility (for translations)
Three Heroic Knowledge Base plans are available:
- Heroic KB Essential: $129 per year for one site. That price includes everything on the above list except items marked *.
- Heroic KB Plus – $159 per year for up to three websites, which includes everything on the above list.
- Heroic KB Pro – $379 per year for up to five domains. That includes everything on the above list plus Slack, HelpScout, and Gravity Forms integrations.
All plans include one year of updates and support. Furthermore, all have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Step 1 – Install the Heroic Knowledge Base WordPress Plugin
Once you have purchased and downloaded the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin, log in to your WordPress.
Next, go to the menu to the left and click on “Add New” under “Plugins,” and then click the “Upload Plugin” button that should appear at the top of the screen:
Press the “Choose file” button and select the zip file you downloaded containing the plugin. You don’t need to unzip this file first. Then, hit “Install Now” and wait for the installation to complete:
Once you see the “Plugin installed successfully” message, hit “Activate Plugin” – you should then be asked to enter your product license key. Once you have done that, the Heroic KB submenu should appear in your WordPress admin menu:
If you have purchased the Pro plan, when clicking on “Sections” in the submenu, a warning may appear at the top of the page notifying you that specific plugins need to be installed and activated. In my case, Gravity Forms required activating.
Step 2 – Configuring the Heroic Knowledge Base WordPress Plugin
The settings area is where you configure how your knowledge base looks.
For example, under “Home & General,” you can configure the homepage of the knowledge base – how it looks, the header text, the number of articles each category can have, whether it is visible to everyone or logged in users only, etc.:
Once you have configured your knowledge base home page, go through each of the other tabs to see what general settings options are available and select/amend the ones that are appropriate to you:
You probably won’t need to do much in the settings area until you have some knowledge base categories and articles to display, so let’s look at how to do that.
Step 3 – Creating Knowledge Base Categories
In a knowledge base, you have categories and articles.
All knowledge base content is contained in the articles, with the categories just being a means of grouping those articles.
Before you do anything else, you need to map out the structure of your knowledge base – what categories you will have and the articles in each. How your knowledge base structure ultimately looks will be specific to your business.
For example, say you run an eCommerce clothing store, a typical structure might be:
|Clothing Sizes||Men’s ClothingWomen’s ClothingChildren’s Clothing|
|Laundry Instructions||Wool itemsCotton itemsSynthetics|
|Shipping and Returns||Shipping OptionsReturning Goods|
|Payments and Refunds||Forms of PaymentRefund Policy|
If necessary, you can subdivide categories into subcategories (and even sub-sub-categories). For example, the “Clothing Sizes” category could be further split into subcategories as follows:
|Men’s Formal Wear||ShirtsSuitsJacketsPants|
|Men’s Casual Wear||T-ShirtsSweatshirts and HoodiesShirtsPants|
|Men’s Shoes and Accessories||BeltsShoesHats|
It is also possible to allocate a subcategory (or article) under more than one parent category or subcategory. For example, in the above example, shirts and pants appear in both the men’s formal and casual wear categories, as the sizing of those will be the same in each.
The structure of categories and articles follows the same principles as WordPress categories and posts. Think in terms of a tree, where the whole knowledge base is the tree trunk, the categories are the branches, subcategories are the twigs, and the articles are the leaves.
Once you are ready to start creating the structure of your knowledge base in WordPress, choose “Article Categories” in the Heroic KB menu. You will see the following screen:
Use this form to start creating your categories. As you add and save them (by pressing the “Add New Article Category” button,) they will appear in the list to the right of the screen:
Please note that if left blank, the “Slug” field populates automatically when you hit the “Add New Article Category” button.
The “Parent Article Category” should be left as “None” for the main categories.
However, suppose you are creating a subcategory. In that case, the process is the same, except you must choose the appropriate “Parent Article Category” from the dropdown list, so it is important to have your parent categories entered and saved before adding subcategories:
If you need to edit or delete a (sub)category, simply hover over the one you wish to change in the list, and appropriate options will appear:
Once you have added all your categories (and subcategories if you are using them), you have the framework of your knowledge base. You can now start adding the crucial knowledge base content – the articles.
Step 4 – Adding Knowledge Base Articles
Adding articles is very much like adding regular WordPress posts. The main difference is you do them under “Add New Article” under the Heroic KB submenu:
Clicking that will take you to a blank article page:
Here, you can enter a title for the article and add whatever content you need. As this is just a modified version of the standard WordPress post form, you have all the usual WordPress post editor features available, including blocks. What’s more, you can even attach files, for example, tutorial videos, technical drawings, datasheets, price lists, etc.
Each article can be assigned to the appropriate category or subcategory using the “Article Categories” checkboxes on the right-hand side.
Furthermore, if you have not yet created a category that you need, there is a facility to add it right from within the article form:
If users are to be allowed to comment on the article, ensure the “Allow Comments” checkbox under “Discussion” is checked:
Finally, you will notice a few fields relating to voting and statistics at the bottom of the form.
Like commenting, voting can be enabled or disabled using the “Disable Voting” checkbox. When enabled, users can vote whether they found the article helpful or not. That is a handy feature, as it allows you to refine your content to serve your customers’ needs more precisely.
Please note that the “Votes and Feedback” table and the “Article Stats” sections will remain empty until the article is live and someone has cast a vote or made a comment.
All posts appear in a list accessed by clicking on “All Articles.” It will look something like this:
Step 5 – Viewing and Editing the Knowledge Base
If you now view your site, you’ll see the knowledge base appears as a new item in the main menu. Clicking on that will display the knowledge base as your site users will see it. Please ignore the reference to Best Camp Stove – it is just one of the URLs I use for testing things!:
You can click on any of the categories to see the articles and/or subcategories within them. Furthermore, when typing a search query in the search bar, you will notice that suggestions automatically appear as you type:
Of course, you can edit and customize the look and layout of the knowledge base page as you wish. If you are viewing the page using the “Visit Site” option from your WordPress backend, you can use the “Customize” and “Edit Page” options just as you would on any other WordPress page:
“Edit Page” essentially allows you to edit the page content, while “Customize” enables you to change the appearance. It is also possible to amend articles in the same way.
You can also access the homepage editor from the “Settings” section of the Heroic KB menu – just choose “Edit this page” under the “KB Home Page” of the “Home & General” section:
Step 6 – Adding and Using Tags
As with WordPress posts, you are free to add tags to your knowledge base articles.
Tags are optional, but they are helpful for adding extra detail and grouping things together. Not only does this help inform readers what the content is about, but it also helps searches find the most appropriate content to display.
You can add tags when you are creating a category or article using the “Article Tags” field:
All you need to do is enter the new tag into the “Add New Tag” field. If you have previously created tags, they may appear as suggestions as you type. That helps avoid duplication and saves time.
Alternatively, tags can be added using the “Article Tags” option in the Heroic KB menu and entering the details into the form, much like when you created the categories:
The “Article Tags” option is useful as it will show you a list of all existing tags. From there, you can easily edit or delete them in the same way you can with the categories.
Step 7 – Rearranging Categories and Articles
Categories and articles are displayed in the knowledge base in the order they are entered. Of course, that is not ideal. However, rearranging them is easy using drag and drop.
Select either “Article Ordering” or “Category Ordering” as appropriate from the Heroic KB menu. Then, simply drag articles and categories and drop them into the order you require:
Step 8 – Restricting Access to Logged In Users
There may be times when you want to restrict content to registered users only. For example, you may want to limit access to operating manuals to customers who have purchased your products. Or you may wish to restrict access to the entire knowledge base to registered users only so that you know they are seriously interested.
With Heroic KB, access to the entire knowledge base or individual categories can be restricted:
Restricting Access to the Entire Knowledge Base:
From the Heroic KB menu in WordPress, select “Settings” and choose “Home & General.”
Next, scroll down the screen to “Restrict Access.” This field has a dropdown box. Select “Public” if the knowledge base is to be visible to everyone or “Logged In” if only registered users will have access:
Restricting Access to Individual Categories:
To restrict access to specific categories, you need to go into the category editor for each one you wish to restrict.
In the editor, set the “Category Access” field to “Logged In” – that will make that category accessible only to logged in users:
That’s It – Your Knowledge Base is Up and Running!
Congratulations on creating your first knowledge base! As you will have seen, it is straightforward using the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin.
Of course, I have only covered the basics in this article, and the plugin is capable of much more. However, you’ll learn the other features, such as the analytics and how to customize the appearance of the knowledge base, as you become more familiar with the plugin.
WordPress Knowledge Base Themes
If you are building a new website from scratch that will feature a knowledge base, you may want to consider using a theme such as HeroThemes’ KnowAll.
KnowAll is a WordPress theme for creating a robust knowledge base website. It will help provide ongoing self-service support to existing and potential customers.
The theme includes all the functions of the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin but integrated into a theme. That means it is more customizable, with extra features such as dedicated widgets and shortcodes.
With the KnowAll theme on your website, your customers will get answers to their questions and concerns by browsing your knowledge base. What’s more, content suggestions based on their searches will offer them instant solutions, too.
Like the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin, three plans are available for the KnowAll theme:
- KnowAll Essential: $149 per year for one site. That does not include search analytics or article feedback.
- KnowAll Plus – $199 per year for up to three domains, which includes search analytics and article feedback.
- KnowAll Pro – $399 per year for up to five websites. That includes search analytics, article feedback, and Slack, HelpScout, and Gravity Forms integrations.
All plans include one year of updates and support, plus all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
A decent knowledge base can drastically cut the resources and time a business needs to deal with customer queries. It goes several steps beyond answering basic frequently asked questions (FAQs) as it can include so much more. For example, tutorials, instructional videos, product datasheets, operating manuals, and much more, can be made available on a self-serve basis.
Furthermore, a creating a knowledge base for your website will ensure an excellent experience for site visitors. That will keep them on the site for longer, plus it may attract them back time and time again. Those happen to be factors Google’s algorithm considers when ranking sites.
If you need a knowledge base solution for your company’s WordPress site, the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin will help you achieve that quickly and easily. And if you are building a website from scratch, HeroThemes’ KnowAll theme would be an excellent starting point, too.
Have you already created a knowledge base on your website? If so, have you used either the KnowAll theme or Heroic Knowledge Base plugin? And if you don’t yet have a knowledge base on your site, hopefully this article inspires you and helps you create one.
Are you still looking for more customer service-related additions for your website? If so, please do check out the WPLift article on WordPress help desk plugins.