0

I am involved with putting together a knowledge base website where users of a suite of software products can go to learn how to use certain features and to help troubleshoot problems that may arise.

Ultimately the main goal of the site is to allow the user to get to relevant information for their needs, as fast as possible.

With this in mind we have added a really prominent search box at the top of the page, where a user can simply type in their question and get a list of page links that can potentially help them.

As a secondary option, we also have listed right below the search box, links to 5 of the most popular/frequent articles as well as some additional "getting started" type of links.

We also have many additional pages (eventually it will be a few hundred pages) that we group into categories (roughly 10 for now, but likely will grow) that we will allow the user to browse as a third option.

My question: Should all these less popular articles (grouped by category) be put on the home page underneath the search option and the "popular" links, adding at least an additional 5 links per category, or should they all be put on a separate "browse all topics" page?

1

Tl;dr: The links to specific articles within a category can be helpful for context - to guide novice users to understand the meaning of the category. But if space is an issue, it is more key to ensure that the full list of categories is represented.

Making large assumptions about your users, I would guess that your primary task on the site will be "Seek help about a specific issue".

The search bar will help with this, but it is also important to represent the information hierarchy of your help content for users who are not confident searching - or need a broader method of exploring.

Representing all the different categories of help is key to convey the scope and breadth of your content.

With that in mind, if you are already representing all of the categories up-front on the home page, then including a few links under each category heading may be a useful way to help your users understand what a category means. It will put the category title into context and assist the user in determining whether that category suits their needs.

1

First shot - since there is not information about your users in the question - please add if you like to get more specific answers:

To me, that depends on the familiarity of your users with the topic, and on the quality of the search engine. If your users are knowledgable and are thus able to formulate meaningful queries, I would assume the search box is enough (provided the search engine is smart).

On the other hand, inexperienced users will benefit from the possibility of gradually diving into a topic hierarchy. Links to frequent or important topics can be viewed as pre-formulated search queries, and will help people learn the terms.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.