Difference between a knowledge base and FAQs

Catherine Heath | September 29, 2016


Many companies start out with a simple FAQs page to deal with their customers’ most commonly asked queries. 

It’s useful to explore the elements that you would normally include in a full-blown knowledge base versus your garden variety FAQs.

Information architecture

The primary difference between a knowledge base and FAQs is the presence of information architecture. When the content on your FAQs page starts growing longer so you end up categorizing it, you’re straying into knowledge base territory. 

The knowledge you need to share is sufficiently complex that it requires categorization according to different levels of breadth and depth so users can navigate your content. 

You need to choose a limited number of broad, top-level categories for your content and then use subcategories if you need them. 

User Experience

Your knowledge base will have its own complete user experience (compared to your website containing the FAQs) because your customers will have a different aim in using it. 

A knowledge base is form of customer self-service that relieves your support team of repeatedly dealing with the same queries, and removes the need for your customers to ring the support line or email your agents. 

In contrast, your website will have a multitude of aims, ranging from selling your products to data collection. Your knowledge base is purely to enable your customers to self-serve their queries. 

Analytics and metrics

Unlike an FAQs section, which is generally just a few pages, a knowledge base will utilize analytics in the back end so you can understand how users are interacting with your content and improve customer support performance

For example, if a page is getting a lot of views but has a high bounce rate, this means users are actively searching for a page but not finding it useful. You can then see that you need to improve your content. 

You’ll also be able to analyze the percentage of your total customers who are actually using your knowledge base, which you should maximize. 

Searchability

HelpJuice has written a great article on how a working search bar is the difference between a knowledge base and an FAQs page

You need to have a prominent search bar on your knowledge base, and tag all of your articles with relevant keywords to enable users to find your content. Your article titles should also be optimized for search. 

Good search capabilities should be a key feature of the knowledge base software that you choose

Conclusion

Ultimately, a knowledge base will require specialist software that provides analytics and searchability to make it a success. An FAQ is just a page or set of pages on your company website. 

Rather than just being an extension of your company website, though, your knowledge base should have its own information architecture so users can easily navigate your content. Along with frequently asked questions, it will also contain general user documentation, and is generally aimed at long-term customers. It should also have its own search functionality for quick finds. 

If you’re ready to graduate from your FAQs page to a brand new knowledge base, KnowledgeOwl can provide the software you need at an affordable price. Contact us now to find out more.

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