You can have all the content in the world but, if it’s boring, no one will read it.
Dry and difficult to read, sometimes knowledge content doesn’t feel that different from the paper docs it replaced. But it doesn’t have to be this way. At Twine, we try to make our knowledge articles enjoyable to read, no matter how mundane the subject is.
In this blog, I’ll teach you some of the ways we do this: how we make knowledge articles easy to scan, how we illustrate our content with images and, as a bonus, I’ll walk you through an article I recently wrote for our knowledge base.
Making articles easy to scan
Let’s start by breaking down any walls of text. Users don’t need an essay to do their job, they need short, simple instructions. By breaking your articles up into sections (using headings) users will able to skip straight to the information they need.
For example, our help centre has a tutorial article called Creating Knowledge content with the subheadings Adding images and Embedding Videos. Both of these subheadings represent optional steps in the tutorial, so readers can spend less time reading and more time getting work done.
To create a heading, don’t just make it bold – add heading tags. When using Twine’s text editor, hit the ‘Format’ drop-down and you’ll be able to apply ‘Heading 3’ to your subheadings. This will not only make your headings bigger but also add a bit of spacing around your text, making everything that much clearer.
Tip: now we’ve freed up the use of bold, you can use it to make keywords stand out throughout your article
We can break our articles down even further with lists. When I’m writing a tutorial, I’ll limit my paragraphs to one or two sentences – everything that doesn’t fit into these goes in a list. There are two types of list you might want to use: bullets and numbers. Bulleted lists are great for listing ideas, whereas numbers are better for step-by-step instructions.
Illustrating content with images
Adding a little visual flair to your intranet will go a long way to improving its usefulness. When we’re teaching users how to create images for our website, we show them the desired end result as well as a single annotated photoshop screenshot. It’s not about having as many images as you can, it’s about showing the user enough to know whether they’re on the right track or not.
There are a few tools of the trade you could use, but I’m going to talk about one: Skitch. It’s a free tool from Evernote that’s great because you can use it to edit any image (not just screenshots). You can add arrows, text and freehand annotations. You can see how I’ve used the latter in the image below.
Tip: don’t worry about making your annotations look perfect – we’re not trying to be Picasso, we’re just pointing something out
Case Study: Creating product screenshots