Re: Online Help vs. Knowledge Base vs. FAQ

Subject: Re: Online Help vs. Knowledge Base vs. FAQ
From: Connie Giordano <connie -at- therightwords -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:19:25 -0400

Stuart makes some excellent points that should be driving the planning and
management of technical content. FAQs not only provide some "quick hit"
content that should be easily findable, but the update and evaluation of
them can significantly impact product development.

Sue, I would look at your situation from a more strategic angle first:

--who are the audiences, and what kind of information do they look for?
--what kind of metrics can you uncover on how the content is being searched
and what is actually being looked at?
--how much can be reused between channels?

In many of the organizations I've worked with, the knowledge base is
something available to both customers and support agents, and depending on
how it's structured and configured, some portions are restricted as
agent-only.

All three types of content support the organization's brand, and the
overall customer experience. Separating them by corporate role (marketing,
tech comm, support) is a false dichotomy and only excaberates the content
silos problem. Look instead at the customer scenarios, and create and
manage your content according to where the customer is, not where the
content creator sits.

You might end up with a content organization like this:
--FAQs: short, easy-to-digest pieces of information that customers look for
before they purchase, or right after they purchase.
--Online Help: concise task-oriented information to help the customer
become proficient with the product they've purchased
--Knowledge Base: task and reference information that customers and support
agents can use to troubleshoot, or to master really advanced features of
the product.

These are the familiar terms for the content types, but actually what you
call them is less important than how you create them and how you make them
accessible to the audience.

My 2 cents

Connie Giordano
The Right Words (and TechWhirl)



On Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 12:43 PM, Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca> wrote:

> I totally disagree with the use of FAQs unless they are intended for
> presale information to push clients into the "buy" zone. In this case I
> prefer product comparison tables to the generic question and answer format.
>
> Online help as you said is good for reference and systematic training. This
> should be beefed up as required based on the most common use cases.
>
> KB works great for specific, unique solutions. The best KB are customer
> driven. These should be curated to both remove ineffective
> (unrecommended) solutions and discover usage material to move to the online
> help. A stackoverflow site may be better than hosting your own.
>
> Just my thoughts.
>
> -Tony
>
> On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, Sue McKinney <smckinn2001 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
>
> > In my job we have all 3 of these available, and we're now trying to
> figure
> > out what's what and what should be in each. Here's my working start of a
> > definition:
> >
> > Online Help = online user guide with introductory material and procedures
> > FAQ = answers to questions users ask most often, with links to online
> help
> > KB = troubleshooting/workarounds for strange things
> >
> > My thinking is that the KB would change as issues are resolved.
> >
> > Our problem is too much documentation and it may be that we have some
> > duplicate material in these different resources. What do you recommend?
> >
> >
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Read about how Georgia System Operation Corporation improved teamwork,
> communication, and efficiency using Doc-To-Help | http://bit.ly/1lRPd2l
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
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>



--
Connie P. Giordano
Principal Consultant
The Right Words of NC, LLC

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible" - Walt Disney

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Read about how Georgia System Operation Corporation improved teamwork, communication, and efficiency using Doc-To-Help | http://bit.ly/1lRPd2l

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at http://techwhirl.com

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References:
Online Help vs. Knowledge Base vs. FAQ: From: Sue McKinney
Re: Online Help vs. Knowledge Base vs. FAQ: From: Tony Chung

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