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Which is better to use for a page with articles (explaining how to use the app)? Because I've seen different companies use either of the mentioned. I even saw some use "Help & Knowledgebase"? Which should I choose?

p.s. I want to put this name (HD or KB on the landing page and add an anchor link leading to it).

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  • 3
    I would say a knowledge-base is more dynamic - something like StackExchange, with a knowledge data building up over time. Whereas 'help' to me sounds like something more passive - a set of curated FAQs, or a link to an email / phonenumber.
    – JonW
    Sep 29, 2017 at 13:12
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    @JonW: I'd think (as a naive English speaker) that it'd be just the other way around. A "knowledge base" ought to be something like an encyclopedia, where you can search for answers. A "Help Center" ought to eventually put you in contact with real live humans who'd try to fix your problem.
    – jamesqf
    Sep 29, 2017 at 17:20
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    @jamesqf do you mean naïve or native?
    – icc97
    Sep 29, 2017 at 23:22
  • @icc97: I meant "naive" in the sense of being a speaker (and reader!) of ordinary English, but not that familiar with web developers' terminology.
    – jamesqf
    Sep 30, 2017 at 19:19

8 Answers 8

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Personally, I always considered (and therefore use) Knowledge Base INSIDE Help (or Help Center if you wish). I think HELP is global, and all resources aimed to HELP users should be put together in a single section with a label that is easy to recognize.

My common approach to help structure is as follows: (when needed, not all sites are the same)

  • Help
    • Knowledge Base
    • FAQ
    • Support
    • (whatever item that should be added here, such as video tutorials, community support forum, help chat and so on)

The most important thing: in the main hub for Help Page, always have phone and mail clearly visible. Not at the top, though, or your CS staff will go crazy, but visible enough after all options I mentioned.

EDIT: Now that I see it, this site uses the same approach: a help link, and then a dropdown to different sections. Same goes for Uber, Airbnb and others. As a side note, Apple uses Support, which makes more sense for physical products (and inside that page, links to different help page like those I mentioned).

Bottom line is: Knowledge Base and other pages are children of the HELP taxonomy, thus they might be similar, but not the same.

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    This is how Zendesk, a popular customer service software company, organizes their support pages as well. A 3rd party tutorial site, ScreenSteps says about Zendesk "The purpose of the Help Center is to help your customers help themselves. The Help Center is divided into two sections: The Knowledge Base, The Community", the latter containing a forum for customers to help other customers. Sep 29, 2017 at 15:13
  • I knew I had seen it at some known resource, just didn't remember which one
    – Devin
    Sep 29, 2017 at 16:31
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This is a question of labeling to meet users' expectations. Will they be disappointed if they tap on "Help Center" and there is no toll-free number to call, or chat agent available? Will they understand immediately that "Knowledge Base" is entirely self-service?

Help Center sounds active (because "Help" is both a verb and a noun). The label sets the expectation that, while there may be reams of documentation available, there is also someone standing by on headphones, waiting to actively help me with my task. I might expect to see a link to initiate a chat, a phone number in giant display type, a search bar to do a little self-service help, and a list of top questions people ask (FAQs). With a Help Center, I may be able to find a quick answer to my question, or I may need to chat with an agent to resolve the problem. Either way, I am likely to succeed.

Knowledge Base, on the other hand, sounds passive because there is no verb in the phrase. It implies that this is more than a collection of links; that powering it all is a [knowledge management system created according to best practices][1], and there may be no human assistance available.

The melding of the two ("Help & Knowledge Base") implies that there may be a knowledge management system available for self-service, and full-service help options as well, via chat or phone call.

For your purposes, you might be best served with a "How To Use This App" or "Get Started with App" link and save the Help and Knowledge Base for when your needs have grown past the basic Quick Start modules.

[1]: Aiken, Best Practices for the Implementation of a Knowledge Management System in Small and Medium Enterprises (https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/21960/Aiken2016.pdf)

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The following is my opinion, and is based on my experiences with the two areas.

Help Center—Problem solver. Provides answers for common problems. For example,

"I can't figure out how to export my edited photo!"

Knowledge Base—Resource pool. Contains information on anything related to your company's domain. For example:

"How do I pick a good location for a photo shoot?"

This would be a pretty easy thing to verify with a sample of your users. Present them with the two naming options and ask a variety of questions, like "In which section would you be more likely to find an article on buying your first camera?" or "Where would you go if your software won't start?" Then you can better understand what your users think the section should be called.

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    What is your reasoning for these descriptions? Is it based on anything you can link to (published articles or standards) or is it more your subjective opinion?
    – JonW
    Sep 29, 2017 at 13:16
  • @JonW Sorry, I'll add a disclaimer. It is my subjective opinion, but the last paragraph would provide a way for OP to make a more empirical decision. Sep 29, 2017 at 13:20
  • His subjection opinion agrees with my subjective opionion. It has to be right!
    – icc97
    Sep 29, 2017 at 23:27
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I kind of agree with JonW's comment that KB is more dynamic and for me it's more detailed, too. But because there's no obvious difference between them, just these "I think..."s the users will not know the difference either. I would call it Help Center, because it contains the word Help, and it's easier to find when scanning. And this HC can have more sections like FAQ, KB, Forum, what-not. That's why it's called a Center (of helpful things).

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The knowledge base is a kind of self-service online repository which may or may not contain help center articles, visual guides, frequently asked questions, etc whereas Helpcenter is basically a platform that contains information to solve common issues like how to use a particular thing, how to troubleshoot a specific problem, etc.

Concluding it, a knowledge base is not a part of a help center but a help center can be a part of the knowledge base.

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I think a Help Center is for people who are confused and need more general answers. It's like the start of the funnel that might lead them to a Knowledge Base article.

So what you are describing are Help Articles for new users. If there's a specific bug or error message that comes up in your application you'd put this in a Knowledge Base.

Compare the Windows 10 Help Center, with the Windows 10 Knowledge Base.

The Windows Help Center has the following direct links to answer immediate questions:

  • Troubleshoot problems opening the Start menu or Cortana
  • Tips to improve PC performance in Windows 10
  • Fix sound problems
  • Fix printer problems
  • Troubleshoot blue screen errors
  • Go back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

It's easy to get to and it's a page that Windows are assuming that you'll land on. All you have to type is http://microsoft.com/help and it will take you to that page.

On the Knowledge Base page, there's no direct answers. There's no easy way to find the Knowledge Base page for Windows. I only found it going via https://technet.microsoft.com. The only time I've gone to the Microsoft or Windows knowledge base is for a very specific problem that I've found a specific article for, from a web search.

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Interesting question! Having worked over the last 7 years or so with knowledge Management Systems I have a slightly different take, particularly from an information architecture point of view.

knowledge Base in a Call Centre

A knowledge base (KB) is a knowledge repository that is most commonly used to help call centre agents by providing access to information they need to support customers.

Typically this information can be presented in many formats, for example as FAQs or step by step procedures to execute tasks. What name / label is given to this collection of resources depends on the purpose and user / customer needs. Most knowledge base systems that power customer facing / self-service content are typically labelled “help Centre” or “Customer Service” or similar for ease of use.

Type of software vs branding

A “knowledge base” is the type of software, can be standalone or integrated with a customer relationship management (CRM) and can be branded or named as “ FAQs” “Help Centre”, “Customer Service” or anything else that users can identify with.

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In my mind here is how I think of the two:

  1. Help Center: Interactive support that tells me how to contact - a live customer support agent or connect to a ChatBot or open a help ticket or email helpdesk.

  2. Knowledge Base: Library that contains a variety of content and information such as FAQs, Videos, Articles like How-To Guides, Reference material, White papers, etc. These would be up-to-date, easily searchable, and tailored by categories or levels of expertise.

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