An owlet’s guide to creating your first knowledge base
by Erica Beyea

An owlet’s guide to creating your first knowledge base

Starting anything from scratch can be intimidating. We’ve had lots of customers come to us with a wide array of knowledge spread across multiple channels that they hope to tame into a single source of truth: a cohesive and helpful knowledge base. If you're trying to create a place where the information from emails, Slack conversations, outdated Word documents, and the tacit knowledge of your staff can come together and be instantly accessed, a knowledge base is exactly what you need.

Over the years of helping them through that task, we’ve collected some tips on how best to approach creating your very first knowledge base, and we hoped it would be helpful to share them. 

Get the ball rolling

I know I can get a little into my own head when facing a big project, and overthinking can lead to inaction if I let it take over. If you're like me, I recommend shaking off any ideas of perfection and just jumping straight into it. 

Start with the low-hanging fruit

If you’re creating a new knowledge base, you likely already know at least five topics that folks often need information on. It could be the questions that you’re tired of looking for the answers to (or tired of providing the answers to). Start there! Create a few articles that you already know would be helpful to the readers of your knowledge base. It can be as simple as the pricing of your product or a list of tools your team commonly uses in their job. 

For a public knowledge base used as a Help Center, you can consult your Support team for the most frequently asked questions. Create a shared document where they can jot down common questions as they think of them, or take a look through saved/canned replies they're using. You could also ask them to link to questions they’ve answered as support tickets, to get an idea of how to write the article. 

For an internal knowledge base, tap into your colleagues' experiences. Ask them for a list of the top ten things they constantly search for and use those topics to create drafts of your first articles. 

Categorize your content

One advantage of an online knowledge base is the ability to improve and edit it as often as you like. As you gather article ideas, identify trends and create related categories. You can start with broad categories like "Product" and "FAQs" or "Company Policies" and "Best Practices" and add subcategories as you expand your content. The important part is to just make the categories - you can always rearrange and rethink later. It’s better to have something created to revise than to get yourself paralyzed in overthinking it. We have an information architecture guide within our Getting Started Guide as well, which can be helpful with this. 

Seek inspiration

Just as artists find inspiration by studying the works of others, examining existing knowledge bases can help generate ideas for your own. Explore showcases of knowledge bases to gain insights and inspire creativity. Try to remember times you’ve interacted with a knowledge base or online Help Center and return to the ones you’ve interacted with. You can learn just as much from an excellent knowledge base as a terrible one. From there you can start a list of do’s and don’ts to follow in your own knowledge base. 

Time to refine

Now that you’ve gotten a handful (or maybe more!) of articles out there, popped into categories and hopefully gained some inspiration from the outside world, you can start getting a little deeper into your creation. 

Add personal touches

As your knowledge base takes shape, consider customizing its appearance. Experiment with colors, fonts, and design options. Depending on the tool you’re using, you might be able to go deep into the styling. If you’re creating your knowledge base with us at KnowledgeOwl, write in with questions you have and we can help guide you through the different fun styling options we offer. 

Share it with potential users

Collaboration is key to creating a successful knowledge base. Share your work-in-progress with folks who may use the knowledge base in the future and ask them what they think. Their feedback can help you discover missing categories or areas that require more work. You can add additional authors to your knowledge base in KnowledgeOwl - even while on trial. It can be helpful to have others help you with the project, particularly when you’re building a new knowledge base.

Keep going and growing

An online knowledge base should constantly evolve and grow. Encourage readers to provide feedback on areas that can be improved. You can use reporting tools in your knowledge base to gain insights into reader behavior and identify articles that need reorganization or improvement. Enable readers to rate and comment on articles to gain direct insights.

Add more value

By now, things are shaping up and you can start digging into other aspects of your knowledge base that can add value to what you’ve done so far. Depending on the tool you’re using, there could be several features you can consider adding. 

Help your readers

If your knowledge base includes technical terminology or acronyms, provide a glossary or synonyms to ensure clarity. This can be a useful tool, particularly for onboarding new customers or new employees to ensure you’re all on the same page.

Your knowledge base doesn’t have to do it all

Redirecting categories to external URLs enhances the completeness of your knowledge base. Users can search for and access external resources directly from your knowledge base without needing to remember their locations.

Explore security options

Determine if you need to restrict access to specific areas of your knowledge base, add various reader groups with varying access areas, or implement Single Sign-On (SSO). You can check in with your colleagues about what security measures are needed for your knowledge base, and check in with your software provider if they’re available. 

There's never a bad time to ask for help

Maybe you’ve done all this and you’re ready for the critique of someone who really knows their knowledge bases, or maybe you’ve just read all this and you could use some encouragement on how to get started: either way my last piece of advice applies. 

Seek guidance from experts

Reach out to the customer experience team of the product you’re using. If you give them a quick overview of how you’d like to use or structure your knowledge base, or an example of a knowledge base you like,  there’s a good chance they’ll have some specialized advice for you. At KnowledgeOwl we absolutely love these kinds of emails. 

We can help you decide if we’re the right place for you and guide you through making the best of what we have to offer. You can reach out to us directly at or you can book a Setup call with us here. Hoot! 

Erica Beyea

Erica is a Lead Customer Success Owl here at KnowledgeOwl. She also paints paintings! You can see her work on her Instagram or say hello on LinkedIn.

Got an idea for a post you'd like to read...or write?
We're always looking for guest bloggers.

Learn more

Start building your knowledge base today

  • 30 days free (and easy to extend!)
  • No credit card required
  • Affordable, transparent pricing
  • No cost for readers, only authors

 Start a trial 

Want to see it in action?

Watch a 5-minute video and schedule time to speak with one of our owls.

  Watch demo