It’s the beginning of the school year, and teachers, students, and staff are all powering up their new devices. Unfortunately, many of them are new or haven’t used their accounts since the summer started, and they’re unsure how to use some of their most essential software.
At this point, they could all send support tickets, flooding the help desk with the same questions over and over. Or they could consult your school’s knowledge base, which answers their pressing questions with a few simple clicks and allows them to get back to work.
A good knowledge base benefits both users and support teams. It prevents your IT department from getting overwhelmed with redundant tickets that slow their resolution times and lower their productivity. It also meets a growing demand from technology users. According to a 2022 survey, 81% of people want organizations to provide more self-service options.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the A-Z of knowledge bases so you can support the students and faculty in your district. We’ll also look at some knowledge base examples you can use as reference points for your own design.
What is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base is a self-service resource that contains internal documentation, FAQs, and helpful how-to articles for end-users. IT departments create knowledge bases so users can fix common problems or address frequently asked questions without submitting a help desk ticket. They’re also helpful for IT team members who want to standardize their processes and achieve better quality control.
To develop an adequate knowledge base, you’ll need to consider many factors, including:
- Developing an intuitive user interface: The key to customer satisfaction is speed and organization. Your user-friendly interface should allow both existing and new customers to find answers to their questions quickly. For K-12 schools, however, an intuitive user interface helps students and staff quickly resolve IT problems on their own without needing to submit a support ticket.
- Adopting simple and concise language: Remember that knowledge bases are a customer-facing service. The language you use in your documentation shouldn’t be overly technical or contain jargon that only makes sense to your IT team.
- Offering helpful content through various mediums: Meeting customers’ needs means accounting for their distinct learning preferences and styles. Incorporating text, diagrams, graphics, videos, and screenshots into your knowledge base will improve the user experience for your students, teachers, and staff.
What Types of Information Belong in Your Knowledge Base?
The specific information you’ll include in your school’s knowledge base depends on the systems and software you use. Common elements include:
- Troubleshooting guides: These guides help users work their way through problems and errors. By troubleshooting their technology issues, users avoid having to wait for a response from a support team member.
- How-to articles: Although standardized help desk tickets improve the efficiency of your support workflows, providing knowledge-base articles with step-by-step instructions is equally essential. The tutorials found within your help desk allow users to take care of basic tasks on their own time without needing to contact your support agents.
- FAQs: If you notice that your students and faculty continuously submit tickets with the same questions, it’s probably time to create an FAQ. Providing your district members with a list of frequently asked questions is a fast and effective way to address low-priority requests and ease the workload of your IT team.
- Policies and procedures: Schools generally have strict technology-use requirements for students and staff. Including those policies and procedures in your knowledge base informs everyone of their responsibilities.
- Announcements: When your team adds new information to a knowledge base or changes an existing article, consider posting an announcement at the top of the knowledge base homepage. This helps avoid confusion and frustration when processes change.
- User manuals: User manuals explain how to use the systems, software, and devices found in your school district. They’re typically more in-depth than how-to articles and may contain technical information.
- Videos/imagery: Adding visual elements to your knowledge base docs makes them accessible to more users. Screenshots, GIFs, and short videos also make it easier to understand complicated processes.
- APIs/SDKs: Including information about application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) is essential for developers or programmers at your school. It provides them with templates for new software and applications that improve workflows throughout your school’s operations.
- Legal/compliance info: This knowledge base content informs users about how their information is used and shared. It also reminds them of expectations for using your school’s website, devices, and software and the importance of maintaining compliance.
Your goals in creating your knowledge base can also help you decide what to add. For example, some schools include community forums and interactive wikis that allow users to share their information and experiences, promoting engagement and investment from the school community.
Benefits of Creating an Internal Knowledge Base
An internal knowledge base is a valuable addition to your IT support team’s tool chest. It offers a variety of helpful support options to your students and staff, including:
- Improved efficiency in your support workflows: IT customer support teams and end-users can resolve support problems more efficiently when they use knowledge bases. They answer questions more quickly and can simplify and standardize processes.
- Reduced redundant tickets: When IT support agents repeatedly receive identical or similar support tickets, they can quickly get frustrated. A knowledge base will help users resolve common issues without submitting a help ticket.
- Consistent support: When users access a knowledge base article, they always receive the same quality of guidance. Likewise, IT members can achieve better work quality by following instructions included in a knowledge base article.
- Onboarding assistance: Walking new users through all of your educational software and systems is time-consuming and often ineffective. Using a knowledge base as part of your onboarding process makes it easier for staff and students to work through systems at their own pace and refer back to information as needed.
- Preserved institutional knowledge: If a key member of your IT staff suddenly departs, it can seriously affect your ability to help employees and students with their technology issues. A knowledge base is an excellent place to store institutional knowledge so crucial information isn’t lost when a staff member is no longer available.
- Enhanced self-service: Although a single user guide might be helpful, it isn’t a fully developed self-service system. A knowledge base allows users to locate a broader scope of information and explore new topics.
- Scalability: As your school grows, a knowledge base makes scaling your technology and services simpler. No matter how many students or staff walk the halls, you can provide reliable access to up-to-date information about all of your current, past, and upcoming technology.
- Website and search visibility: A school website with a knowledge base that includes common keywords and questions is more likely to meet SEO requirements that affect search engine ranking. This makes your site more visible to students, parents, and community members.
Creating a knowledge base as part of a unified K-12 IT support platform empowers users and IT staff. It saves everyone time, increases productivity, and ultimately cuts costs, a critical factor when American schools are underfunded by more than $85 billion a year.
Top 10 Best Knowledge Base Examples
With so many types of knowledge bases already online, there’s no need to start from scratch. You can draw inspiration for your own school district by taking a look at the best knowledge base examples on the web.
1. Help Scout
The Help Desk through Help Scout has a streamlined homepage that’s easy to navigate. It includes a search bar and a series of buttons for different topic categories. Clicking a button takes you to a list of articles.
At the top of every article, you’ll find a short list of main points so that you can jump to the section most relevant to your needs. When you reach the end, you can provide instant feedback by clicking a smiling or frowning emoji to indicate whether the answer was helpful or not.
When you visit Zendesk’s help center, you’ll see a tidy interface with a prominently placed search bar. The Zendesk knowledge base also offers the option to browse solutions, admin topics, or professional guides, making it easy to narrow down your search for answers.
At the bottom of the knowledge base homepage, there’s an interactive list of common questions. Clicking on a question takes you to a knowledge base article that explains the answer in detail. Each article page includes a list of related articles, which are especially helpful if your chosen topic doesn’t provide the exact information you need. The articles also have a comments section, and Zendesk team members regularly monitor and respond to questions posted there.
Unlike their Confluence software, Atlassian’s knowledge base is straightforward and pared down. Their site may not have some of the bells and whistles of other companies, but the main knowledge base page focuses on the essentials: a search bar, popular articles, and the option to browse by product.
Each article in the Atlassian knowledge base includes a list of related content, a link to ask the community, and detailed troubleshooting for problems and error messages. They also include a lot of screenshots, making it easier for users to put the advice they’re receiving into practice.
Salesforce’s self-service help center combines icons with text for easier navigation. Users can search for resources, explore docs by product, and connect to video channels and community groups.
One distinct advantage of Salesforce’s knowledge base design is the ability to download articles as PDFs easily. Rather than forcing you to copy and paste article text into another document so you can save or print it, Salesforce offers multiple opportunities to download articles. At the end of each article, you’ll find a link with additional resources that might help further explain the solution to your problem or the answer to your question.
Mailchimp’s knowledge base focuses heavily on visual lessons. Their knowledge base homepage includes a search bar and a list of popular guides and tutorials. Below, you’ll find a list of quick-start video tutorials, which are ideal for users who prefer seeing an expert demonstrate a task rather than read about it. Alongside these brightly colored, bite-size videos, Mailchimp offers a longer new user orientation.
Farther down the homepage, you’ll discover a list of topic categories. These link to knowledge base articles, which consist of instructions, images, and resources, such as templates. Each article offers users the opportunity to provide feedback with a brief survey. This is a great way to discover user concerns and make ongoing improvements to current knowledge base articles.
Asana’s Help Center homepage is a little more cluttered than other knowledge bases, but it’s because they offer so many different ways to access information. In addition to a search bar, the page includes a new user section with getting-started guides, video tutorials, and navigation information. It also includes recommended help topics, use cases, and video tutorials.
One factor that sets the Asana Help Center apart from other knowledge bases is the option to participate in courses. Ranging from a few minutes to several weeks, these self-paced classes help users achieve specific goals and improve their Asana skills.
When you arrive at the Dropbox help center knowledge base, you’ll find an array of resources and options. You can conduct a search, browse articles by category, and learn how to use or troubleshoot specific Dropbox SaaS services. The site also includes a list of popular articles and community posts.
Dropbox knowledge base articles are detailed but concise, getting straight to the point and focusing on step-by-step instructions. Users who want to dive deeper into a topic can explore the company’s free self-guided courses and live instructor-led sessions.
Lyft’s knowledge base is unique in that it separates resources for different types of users. Lyft drivers, riders, and applicants have separate buttons that they can use to access information specific to their situations. For example, a driver can see a list of articles on subjects such as vehicle requirements and bonuses, while passengers learn how to report ride issues and tip their drivers.
If you want to peruse Lyft’s knowledge base on a more general level, you can explore popular articles or browse through all of the available help topics. As with any great knowledge base, you can also use the search box to find the information you need or connect with the support team for additional help.
Canva specializes in design, and that’s clear when you visit their help center homepage. With an easy-to-read color scheme and uncluttered menu options, navigating the Canva knowledge base is simple and fast.
To help users narrow their search terms, the search box includes a list of popular topics. There’s a list of top articles for different types of customers, such as education or non-profit organizations. Canva also offers a series of buttons for resource categories, including troubleshooting and account settings.
Slack’s knowledge management system focuses on the customer experience by emphasizing how-to guides. The knowledge base homepage has basic search functionality, with the added bonus of suggesting common troubleshooting search topics.
Visual learners can benefit from Slack’s videos and tutorials. These resources combine text with images and walkthroughs of common processes, making it easier for users to get a grasp on using the Slack system. Even standard articles include animated GIFs to show how to complete simple tasks.
Quick Tips: How to Create a Good Knowledge Base
A customer support knowledge base is meant to make your life easier, but creating one can be its own source of stress. Incident IQ simplifies knowledge base development and deployment and allows you to attach knowledge base articles to help ticket responses.
A lot goes into building a good knowledge base, but these tips will help you get started:
- Hold a planning session to decide what kind of common questions and popular topics are most important to include in your knowledge base.
- Decide who will manage your knowledge base creation project and assign subcategories to different team members.
- Write concise and specific articles for each subject, providing step-by-step instructions when necessary.
- When possible, outsource relevant information from existing articles to reduce the amount of original content you have to create.
- Create or use a template, making sure to include clear titles and main content points at the top of the page for each article.
- Build a knowledge base homepage and organize your content with a table of contents that has separate categories for related articles, such as classroom technology or software tools.
- Include links or contact information for users who need more in-depth responses to their questions and want to contact the help desk.
As you start to learn how to build a help desk knowledge base, remember that it’s an ongoing process. You’ll need to add new topics, update existing content, and identify popular articles to make the user experience as positive as possible for the members of your school.
Best K-12 Knowledge Base Software: Incident IQ
Building an internal knowledge base is a crucial step that helps optimize your K-12 IT support. It allows your school’s students, staff, and faculty to manage their devices better, use software more successfully, and save precious time better spent elsewhere.
If you’re wary of building a knowledge base on your own, consider using knowledge base software to simplify the process. The experts at Incident IQ will help you develop a knowledge base from the ground up and ensure that it meets the needs of your school. Incident IQ’s help desk software also merges seamlessly with your knowledge base and automatically attaches relevant articles to incoming support tickets.
In addition to supporting your knowledge base development, Incident IQ also offers software for much more, including:
With the knowledge base tools and management software from Incident IQ, you can create a knowledge base from scratch and enhance all your school’s workflows. Schedule a demo to discover everything that Incident IQ has to offer.