If you’re tired of getting the same support queries over and over (or just want to help your customers better), you should create a knowledge base.
But in order to create an effective knowledge base with WordPress, you’ll need the help of some external tools. So to boost your knowledge on knowledge bases, I’m going to list out some of the best free and premium knowledge base plugins.
I’ll divide the list up so that you can quickly find the option that matches your budget.
But first – are you sure that you should actually be looking for a knowledge base plugin?
Should You Use a Knowledge Base Plugin or Theme?
Using WordPress for your knowledge base is tricky because you can actually go about it two different ways.
As the post title suggests, you can use one of these knowledge base plugins on top of your existing theme. But you can also use an entirely separate standalone WordPress knowledge base theme.
So…which should you choose?
Well, think about the basic meaning of themes and plugins…
If you want a knowledge base that is part of the same core WordPress install and utilizes the exact same theme, then a plugin is probably your best option.
Just be aware – you probably won’t get a knowledge base that looks as good as the knowledge base themes unless you ladle on a hefty dose of custom CSS. Even then, it’s hard to achieve the functionality of some of the premium knowledge base themes.
While using a knowledge base theme usually gets you better looks and more functionality, you’re sacrificing easy integration with your existing design and theme. If you use a theme, you’ll need to run a separate WordPress install (assuming you’re using WordPress for your main site).
That can be a bit annoying because you’ll need to create all new users. While it is possible to share users across multiple WordPress installs, it’s a bit complicated and not attainable for beginners without developer help.
All in all, if you just want a lightweight solution that fits within the framework of your existing theme, then I think plugins are a great option. Here are some of the best…
The Best Free Knowledge Base Plugins
Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of great free knowledge base plugins. The following plugins will work for a lightweight solution, but I wouldn’t recommend using them if you’re running a serious business.
1. WP Knowledgebase
As far as free options go, WP Knowledgebase is one of the best I’ve found. I’ve personally used this plugin, so I can attest that it’s quite easy to get running.
Pretty much all you do is create articles using the native WordPress Editor. Then, you can divide them up into categories and choose whether or not to let users search for specific articles.
Once you’ve got it all set up, you embed your knowledge base by using a shortcode. Once you do that, you’ll end up with something like this:
Like I said, it’s basic…but it’s workable. Throw in some custom CSS and you have a solid solution.
DocuPress is a super lightweight knowledge base plugin. Seriously – don’t expect a ton of bells and whistles.
But if something lightweight is fine, I like it because there’s absolutely zero bloat (again – I’ve used it personally and can attest to that).
Basically, it gives you a custom post type for knowledge base articles, as well as a widget for displaying articles. Combine it with something like Content Aware Sidebars to display different sidebars for different content, and you can create a fully self-contained knowledge base.
At one point Robert, the developer, had plans to add shortcodes as well. But I’m not sure if he’s had time for that implementation yet.
3. Very Simple Knowledge Base
I haven’t had a chance to personally play around with Very Simple Knowledge Base much. But from poking around, it does appear to stick true to its name.
After you add your knowledge base articles, the plugin gives you simple shortcodes to easily display your knowledge base in a variety of grids. You can also add modifiers to hide empty categories, change the order, and more.
Again – this is a super basic implementation. But if basic works for you, give it a look.
4. DW Knowledge Base
DW Knowledge Base lets you quickly set up a basic knowledge base, complete with a search box and various widgets to display specific categories or tags, as well as popular, random, or latest knowledge base articles.
What’s nice about the plugin is that you can also enable/disable commenting on your knowledge base articles, as well as display related articles to help your users find even more helpful information.
If you check out the end result, you can see that it’s pretty similar to WP Knowledgebase:
Honestly, I can’t offer a definitive option on which is best. I’d recommend picking one with the interface that you prefer.
The Best Premium Knowledge Base Plugins
You probably noticed that I used the word “basic” a good bit when describing the plugins above. Let’s kick basic to the curb and dive into the premium options.
Yes, you’ll have to pay some money, but you’ll also get much more in-depth functionality in return.
5. Heroic Knowledge Base
Heroic Knowledge Base is one of the most popular premium knowledge base plugins out there. It’s used by biggies like Pagely, Crazyegg, and more. And while the price might make you balk, you are getting a ton of functionality that goes beyond just listing out articles.
I’m talking about:
- Instant AJAX search – as soon as visitors start typing, they’ll start seeing search results.
- Article feedback – visitors can vote your content up or down so that you can quickly see which articles need to be improved.
- Built-in analytics – get detailed information on what people are searching for, which articles are helpful, and more.
- Article attachments – attach files to your articles to make them even more helpful.
The feature list is solid…but it does cost $129 for a single site license, which might put it out of reach for casual users.
If you want more information, we’ve actually previously written about Hero Themes’ products.
6. Knowledge Base from PressApps
Knowledge Base from PressApps is the best selling knowledge base plugin over at Code Canyon and offers a slightly more affordable entry to premium knowledge base features.
Its 3.7-star rating on almost 3,000 sales is ok, but not great.
Knowledge Base from PressApps sets you up with a similarly helpful set of features like:
- Live article search for instant suggestions
- Article voting to determine helpfulness
- Easy sorting and display options
But it is missing the depth of analytics offered by Heroic Knowledge Base. You do get the article helpfulness voting, but that’s about it.
As you can see in the screenshot above, it definitely gives you a more polished look than many of the free plugins.
Knowledge Base from PressApps is also fairly affordable, coming in at just $39.
7. BWL Knowledge Base Manager
I’ll wrap things up with BWL Knowledge Base Manager. Like the other premium options, it’s got AJAX live search, though it lacks the analytics or article helpfulness options.
Despite the analytics shortcomings, BWL Knowledge Base Manager does offer a few unique features in the form of:
- An optional table of contents function. I’m not a fan of it…but you might like it.
- An external question submission form to accept user generated questions.
The overall design aesthetic also brings a fairly unique look from the other plugins. If you like its looks, this might be the plugin for you.
BWL Knowledge Base Manager is also the cheapest premium knowledge base plugin, coming in at just $25.
Which Knowledge Base Plugin Should You Pick?
If you’re not too worried about budget, I think Heroic Knowledge Base offers the absolute best functionality…you’re just going to pay for it.
Knowledge Base from PressApps offers a nice mid-range solution that balances price with functionality.
And finally, if you need something that’s free, my recommendation would be to choose between DW Knowledge Base and WP Knowledgebase.
Now over to you – have you used any of these plugins? Which was your favorite?