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Mapping the Knowledge: From a Blank Page to Successful User Guide

The first rule of All-Knowledge-Bases-in-the-World: You can't make the user read.

 

We've all been there, and when it comes to documentation improvements and upgrades, the struggle is real. I will again start with my favorite song of Depeche Mode: "Let me take you on a trip...". Still, not around the world and back, but we made quite a mileage with our Knowledge Base enhancements.

 

From Confluence Server to Confluence Cloud, we are building our documentation portal with one purpose: to give each user enough information about the product essence, value, and usage. To guide them through the process of adopting, using, and customizing all Botron products. And from the beginning of time, 70% of the support requests exist only because the users are not using the portal (*shrug*).

 

After countless rises and falls, we reach a solid ground in the Knowledge Base making, and I will share with you the main pillars of this construct.

 

Keep it simple, keep it beautiful

You may think that when it comes to a knowledge base, the design is not a big deal. I'll reveal the secret: the design is a big deal. It may be a small part of the whole process but never underestimate the first impression of your users. Give them clean, easy to navigate view and they will embrace it right away. At Botron, we stick with one homepage for all apps with not much but enough information to display, as well as clean navigation.

atlassian-authors-knowledge-bases.png

 

 

Divide

If one Confluence Space seems small for your content, divide! Having separate space for each product or service is crucial for the proper usage of your knowledge base. Having the same structure across spaces allows the users to quickly dig into the topics and find the right spots even in different product spaces.

 

 

If you want them to use it, show them how

Try to include as many product screenshots, graphs, images, or videos as you can fit in the description page (Well, not literally. (smile) You got the point.) Simple sentences, enough technical depth, and samples are the key to the right knowledge bank. We found that usage of short-length GIFs is handy for users without any knowledge or experience with our products.

atlassian-authors-knowledge-bases-gif.png

 

 

Use the right Macros

Confluence is not just a blank space, waiting to be filled with images and bold text. Using the right Confluence Macros can save the users' time and efforts in searching for the desired information. Our documentation gurus highly recommend the use of Page trees, Information Panels, Statuses, and other visual enhancements, which keep the content well structured, easy to read, and much easier to follow. 

atlassian-authors-knowledge-bases-pagetree.png

 

 

A Path for your users is a Map for you

Even if you are the Brain in your company, you can't remember all the specifics of your company portfolio. Making a good knowledge base will support not just your potential customers but your team and your onboarding colleagues. Having private pages, drafts, or product tutorials is part of the benefits which you can hide into your Confluence and use in need. 

atlassian-authors-knowledge-bases-workshop.png

 

If you want something explained in more detail, feel free to reach out! 

 

And my long and hearty letter to everyone:

 

"Dear Users,

read the Docs.

 

Love 💙,

Teodora"

6 comments

Fadoua Community Leader Aug 16, 2020

I enjoyed reading every single word from your article @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ !

Thank you @Fadoua 🙏! 

Many people don't realize that the design of the taxonomy is crucial to how people consume information. Part psychology, part attractiveness, part ease-of-use. How do we make finding easy? How do we not overwhelm? As you said, keep it simple, keep it beautiful. I'd also add keep it organized, keep it thoughtful. The design should never present an obstacle to the desire to find information. 
Thanks for the article! 

Thank you for your feedback, @Rose Eliff!

You are so right; sometimes, the last thing that comes to mind is simplicity. And it's often what we need the most :)

Hakeem Olasupo Community Leader Nov 25, 2021

Really appreciate you for posting this.

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