Best practices: Developing content for your knowledge base

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27 Comments

  • Nancy Rentmeester

    This is a good article, but are there any best practices on retiring knowledge articles?

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  • Apple Sabino

    Hi, Nancy.

    Here in our company articles are written by different levels and support teams, and has one year validity. 5 days before article expires, the tool sends notification to the author/owner that they need re-validate the contents before re-publishing the article or otherwise they need to retire it. Problem is author/owner don't really do that, so we need to chase them. There are instances that author/owner already left the company leaving us with no idea who to contact. That's the time we retire the article, when no one can be contacted to update it.

    We also consider when article has not be updated ever since it was created (more than 2 years). Number of times article was used can also be considered, if article has only few used/views and wasn't updated for quite sometime, we retire the article.

    I hope that helps.

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  • Quan Vu

    We've been having an issue on our team trying to create an effective workflow for turning tickets into documentation. We created a simple checkbox ticket field, "Needs documentation", and a view for all tickets with this checked.

    The issue we're having is that we can't always take tickets out of the queue after we've created docs for it. We have limited resources for docs--I'm the only tech writer on the team--so sometimes, tickets will move to 'Closed' status before I'm able to finish docs for it. Once that happens, we can't uncheck the box to remove it from the queue. Do you have any suggestions (besides working more quickly/getting more writers, hah)?

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  • Jessie Schutz
    Zendesk team member

    Hi Quan!

    The first thing that sprang to my mind is the Ticket to Help Center app. This app allows you to select any comment in a ticket, edit (if you wish), and post as an article to any section in your Help Center. 

    You could set up a restricted Section for your drafts and send these "future docs" there using the app. Then you can edit them as you have time without worrying about the tickets getting archived before you get to them.

    The only caveat is that this app is not officially supported, so if it breaks at some point you'll need to rely on the Community here or your own developers to fix it. 

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  • Quan Vu

    Hi Jessie,

    Thanks for the feedback! I did just install the Ticket to Help Center app based on one of your comments on another post/article. But thanks for the feedback here, too. Your suggestion would effectively move the documentation queue from the Zendesk Support interface into the Help Center/KB interface, allowing me to update the queue as needed. This may be exactly what I'm looking for! Thanks again!

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  • Jessie Schutz
    Zendesk team member

    Terrific! I hope it works well!

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  • Stephanie Noack

    How can you easily manage which articles need to be updated when a new version of a feature or UX comes out?  Is tagging the best solution?  If so, what are best practices around tag management?

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  • Nicole S.
    Zendesk Community Team

    Hey Stephanie - 

    Welcome to the Zendesk Community! I've asked our documentation manager if she can weigh in here; hopefully she'll have a moment to jump in soon. 

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  • Jennifer Rowe
    Zendesk Documentation Team

    Hi Stephanie, 

    Our product is not versioned so we don't really have an issue. We don't have to manage updates to a large number of articles at a time. When there is an update to an existing feature for one of our products, it's usually isolated to an article or a handful of articles, so those articles are easy for us to find.

    I do think your labels idea is a good one. Using labels enables you to group articles that apply to the same version or feature set. Then you can easily create an article list based on a label to find the articles you need to update when the time comes.

    I know that some users add a label with the date the article was last reviewed or they add a label with a future date to review. Then they have an ongoing process to review articles every 3mos or 6mos.

    Maybe some of the other community members out there who deal with this will also weigh in! 

    Hope that helps! 

     

     

     

     

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  • Anthony Inman

    I have been having a problem creating numbered lists in my articles in the Guide. When I create the number list in the editor using the list function the article in the help center reverts to a lettered list instead of a numbered list. How can I fix this issue?

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  • Wes Drury

    @Anthony - Can you provide a link to one of your articles that have this issue.

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  • Anthony Inman

    @Wes

    Here is the link. We are on an intranet, so I am not sure if you will be able to access it. Let me know and I will add screen shots of the code and the article. https://support.scentsy.com/hc/en-us/sections/115000211392-SCENTSY-FAMILY-REUNION-2017-2018

    You can see the list under the Cancellation Section. In the editor it shows as a numbered list, but in the published article it comes out as letters. 

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  • Hannah McKinney

    @Apple - when you say that your article has expired, do receive a specific notification? Is there a way for Zendesk to alert you when you article is over X years (or months) old?

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  • parilon

    Hi
    Thanks for useful article 

    Is there any standard for Number of Knowledge Based created for customers?

    What's the frequency of creating articles for customers?

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  • Ivan Preti

    Last section could be updated to reflect new publishing processes in Guide Enterprise.

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  • Jennifer Rowe
    Zendesk Documentation Team

    Good call, Ivan. I updated the article. Thanks!

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  • Rebecca Dai

    Is there any word count limit or length limit on how long a help center article can be?

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  • Nicole S.
    Zendesk Community Team

    Hi Rebecca -

    No, there are no word count or length limits on Help Center articles.

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  • Genna Gores

    Hi All! Do you have any recommendations for apps or management systems to track zendesk help center articles? I am creating a help center for the second time, and the last time I felt that it was hard to track new and updated articles. Are there any suggested management apps or extensions we should use with zendesk?

     

     

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  • Anthony Inman

    Hi Genna Gores,

    I use Google Analytics to track article usage and keywords used for searches. 

    Here is a great article that explains how to set it up.

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  • Genna Gores

    Hi Anthony Inman!

     

    I appreciate the insight and I will look into it. Do you also use Google Analytics to do article planning and edits? I think where I'm struggling is on what service to use to actually pre-plan and manage our help center articles (what we need to write, what needs to be updated, what are article requests from customers or internal support folk). Let me know if you have a best practice on how to manage this!

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  • Madison Davis
    Zendesk Community Team

    Hey Genna! I'm a Content Manager for this help center and thought I'd chime in with a little info on how we do this at Zendesk!

    My first suggestion is to check out Content Cues if you have Guide Enterprise. It looks for patterns in your Support tickets and tells you topics that are most prevalent from the last 60 days, so it's a super easy, automated way to see what your users or customers are asking about. 

    If you don't have Guide Enterprise I still consider it best practice to build your content roadmap around the questions your customers are asking, and looking at Support tickets is one of the best ways to do that! There are some tips here about ways to gather information from tickets (what tickets are about, what macros Agents are using that could be turned into articles). We also poll our employees when we're planning our content roadmap and open up a survey a few times a year to accept requests. 

    You can also view Help Center search data including No Results searches and CTRs as outlined here

    Finally, we definitely recommend looking into Knowledge-Centered Service as a best practice if you're not already using it. Zendesk's knowledge capture app is actually built to facilitate KCS activities in your tickets and gives your agents a way to flag content that needs updated or create/suggest new content directly from their ticketing workflows. You get a full lifecycle of content suggestions this way, driven by the issues that your customers or users are sharing! 

    It's difficult to summarize all of this in one response, so feel free to let me know if you have any questions. 

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  • Chuck Martin

    You say:

    "Develop a template for your articles. A template makes it faster and easier to create content. No one likes facing a blank page. Develop a template with designated sections to fill in, so that authors include the right information and not extraneous information. A template also ensures your articles are consistent and users know what to expect."

    This would be orders of magnitude better if there was an article os how to do exactly this (and I'm not talking about your Curlybars articles), and then the bold first sentence here could be a link to it. 

    I mean, I found this (https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360001948367-Adding-multiple-article-section-and-category-templates-to-your-theme-Guide-Enterprise-), which describes how to create templates, but I can find nothing that describes how to design a content structure within those templates.

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  • Devan - Community Manager
    Zendesk Community Team

    Hello Chuck Martin,

    Template design for article creation and how to customize it can be a very subjective process. We often leave that type of knowledge sharing to other users to share their best practices. I went ahead and found a post in our User Tips section of the community that goes into detail on how their KCS implementation and article template creation works for your reference. 

    Our KCS Implementation with Zendesk

    Best regards. 

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  • Chuck Martin

    Thanks Devan, but that article just describes the templates themselves, not how to create those templates in the ZDG admin flow. I already have my content design; now I want to implement it. That's the knowledge gap I have.

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  • Madison Davis
    Zendesk Community Team

    Hey Chuck! Are you using the Knowledge Capture app? If so, instructions for creating text templates are here: https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002374987. That's what we use at Zendesk and is what I would recommend as a best practice!

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  • Chuck Martin

    H iMadison! No, I am not a support agent, your primary use case. I'm a technical writer, looking do develop content directly in ZDG. I have 2 content templates designed (outside of ZD) that I want to create as templates in ZDG for use in one section of content. 

    I'm using this article that I found (https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360001948367-Adding-multiple-article-section-and-category-templates-to-your-theme-Guide-Enterprise-) to try and create templates, and I see a mix of HTML, JavaScript, and what I think is Curlybars, but I can't (yet) figure out where I would add the content that would be the structure of the templates I've designed. I'm guessing it's between a specific set of div tags, and I'm thinking to try my best guesses and see if I can save these as new templates and use them for new articles as I'd anticipate I could do.

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