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Knowing Your Knowledge Base
By Paul Barden

It seems like every day something new is being added to the list of things you can do with or have on your website. Sometimes it's a completely new concept and sometimes it's a recreation of an already successful aspect of your website. To truly discuss every possible thing you could do with your site would take longer than it would to build you an amazing site. Today I'd like to talk about one item that can be added to a variety of types of websites...the Knowledge Base.

Let's start with what a Knowledge Base is. A Knowledge Base uses a database to organize, collect, and retrieve information generally related to specific topics or problems. I realize there is a little techese in there so let me provide you with some good examples of Knowledge Bases and how to use them.

One of the websites I've discussed in the past is the Informational Website. See where I'm going with this?...Knowledge - Information. Many companies or organizations want to provide information about themselves or a specific topic or cause. They generally have all the information available to them, but don't know how to make it accessible without overwhelming their readers. The Knowledge Base allows the website owner to have their information organized categorically, but most importantly creates a personalized environment to search through this information.

Medical websites may want to put info like symptoms, treatments, or effects of the diseases or hurdles in their specialty. How many times have you heard a doctor say many people who suffer from a disease or condition are worse off than they should be because they were afraid to talk to anyone about it? The Knowledge Base allows that doctor to put all the pertinent information in one place for their patient or perspective patients to search through and absorb in the comfort of their own home. They may read something that spurs them to go to the doctor or at least give them some accurate information before dealing with an uncomfortable topic.

In many cases we'll recommend a Knowledge Base in place of an FAQ's page. Although FAQ's have become a necessary evil when it comes to companies on the internet, they always feel cold an impersonal to me. The message they send is that these are the 10 or 12 things I figure you want to know about the company. If there is anything else you want to know I guess you're out of luck or better be ready to spend some time on the phone. The Knowledge Base turns the same set of data into a searchable collection of information that gives the site visitor a level of comfort because they don't feel limited in the information you're providing them. The Knowledge Base also allows you to suggest other information to the visitor if you don't have results for what they were originally searching for.

As you probably guessed already, one of my favorite aspects of the Knowledge Base is the image it portrays and how static information can be provided and accessed in a more dynamic way. It may sound odd to say it's the feel using a Knowledge Base is where I'm going with this, but that's the best way I can think of to describe it. Providing a list of links that require you to go through every single one to find the one or two you're looking for can be aggravating and make a visitor to your website feel like they are on an island by themselves. Whereas a Knowledge Base allows your visitors to search through the same information at their own pace and with terms they are comfortable with. I don't know about you, but one of those scenarios sounds a lot better than the other when it comes to getting answers or finding information related to a topic I'm not familiar with or nervous about.

So think about adding a Knowledge Base to your website and give your visitors the freedom to find the information they need, without having to weed through data they have no interest or use for. It may be the difference between losing that visitor to another search to find someone else to buy from, and staying on your site and making a purchase.

Paul Barden has over 10 years in sales and teaches both sales technique and how to own the sales process. He currently runs his own web design business in Orlando, FL. Too many business owners are walking into the website design process blind. They put hours into a new sales rep, but always have the website on the back burner. Both should walk hand and hand to market and sing the same song. If you need help with your sales team, website, or both swing by our website and let us know how we can help.

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