Getting started

KnowledgeOwl is a knowledge base software platform that helps you create a website to share information with your customers, employees, and other audiences. In this guide, you'll learn how to start using KnowledgeOwl to create a knowledge base, and we'll provide some helpful resources as you progress.

Before you start

Before you jump in to the software, there are a few helpful things to know:

  • KnowledgeOwl is a web-based application that works in your web browser, so you do not need to download or install any software on your computer. To be sure KnowledgeOwl works properly on your computer, you should be using a supported modern web browser and have cookies and JavaScript enabled.
  • When you create a KnowledgeOwl account, you agree to comply with our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • We provide a number of resources to provide help and insights about our software and its features:

Set up your account

When you sign up for KnowledgeOwl, you'll enter your email and password. This is what you will use to log in to the KnowledgeOwl application. You will also enter your first and last name, which is what we'll call you and how you will appear as an author.

You can edit and customize your user profile under Your Account > Users (or Account > My Settings if you are not a full account Admin). To learn more about managing users, please read the User Management guide.

Create your knowledge base

When you first log in to your account, we'll walk you through the basic setup process. You'll give your knowledge base a name and a URL, like "My Awesome Knowledge Base" and "awesomekb.knowledgeowl.com" respectively. Don't worry about getting it perfect as you will be able to update the knowledge base name and URL under Settings > Basic later.

If you want to create more than one knowledge base, you'll find the option to do so on your Dashboard!

Create categories

The foundation of a great knowledge base is content that is neatly organized so the site is easy to navigate and search. You can create whatever taxonomy structure you want in KnowledgeOwl using categories and sub-categories.

Categories are like folders or containers for your knowledge base articles. Each category also has a landing page, or URL, that can be used to display its content. 

You can create as many levels of categorization as you want in KnowledgeOwl. Best practices suggest that you don't go more than 3-5 layers deep, but you can use your own judgement to create a structure that works best for your audience and content.

You can learn more in our Categories guide.

Create articles

Once you create your basic category structure, you can create your first article. Articles are the building blocks of your knowledge base. Each article is an individual webpage that readers can search for and navigate to in the knowledge base.

When you first create an article, it will be in draft status, which means it will not be available yet in your knowledge base. You can preview what the draft article will look like to a reader in your knowledge base.

Once you are ready to make the article live, change its Publishing Status to 'Published' and save. You can view the published article by clicking on the blue 'View Article' link at the top of the article editor.

You may check out this guide for more information on the different publishing statuses.

Customize your branding

Whether you are an expert or a novice in website design, KnowledgeOwl gives you tools to easily design beautiful knowledge bases with your company's branding. Choose one of the Theme and Layout options available and customize your logo, fonts, and colors under Settings > Style.

Designing a knowledge base in KnowledgeOwl can be fun, but can also get complex since we offer a lot of customization options including custom CSS and HTML as well as JavaScript. 

If you need any help, you can ask about the support and services we provide to help you build the knowledge base of your dreams. Get in touch with us at support@knowledgeowl.com and we will happy to discuss your design requirements with you!

Customize your navigation

Navigation is how your users move around your knowledge base. It's important to make your site easily browsable. KnowledgeOwl offers a range of navigation features and options:

  • Configure your table of contents menus, including adding or removing elements (such as links to the homepage and glossary), and changing their default behavior.
  • Use breadcrumbs so your readers always know where they are in your site structure.
  • Include additional links in the top navigation bar.
For a deeper look at navigation best practices, check out the Write the Docs Information Architecture resources.

Set up who can access your site and how

By default, access to your knowledge base will be public. Public knowledge bases are great because they allow your customers or intended audience to access your content without having to log in. Google and other search engines can crawl and index public websites, allowing your customers to easily find your information if that is what you desire.

However, there are many instances where you may not want everyone, or search engines, to be able to access your entire knowledge base or certain content in it. You can choose to restrict your knowledge base, or certain content, using reader logins, single sign-on, remote authentication or one of our other security options. 

Learn more about restricting access to your knowledge base and content in our Security Setup guide.

Gather customer feedback

KnowledgeOwl provides a collection of feedback tools, giving your customers the chance to respond to your content, and allowing you to gather valuable information. There are three main feedback channels built in to KnowledgeOwl:

  • Ratings allow knowledge base users to quickly let you know whether they found an article useful.
  • Comments support more detailed feedback and discussion on an article.
  • The contact form has broader use: you can set it up to not only gather feedback, but act as a support channel.

Actively listening to customer feedback through comments and contact forms is just one way to learn how to improve your knowledge base, and your product. There are also "passive" methods, such as using analytics to see how people use your documentation (our Reporting guide has more information), and external tools, such as surveys.


New to gathering user feedback? Check out our blog post, which outlines some key things to consider. There's also a collection of useful resources on the Write the Docs website.


Next steps

Once you are familiar with how to use our basic tools, you can move on to our advanced features to take your knowledge base to the next level. Are you ready to take this up a notch?

Integrate KnowledgeOwl into your Web Site or Application

KnowledgeOwl is very customizable and can be integrated into a website or application in a variety of ways depending on your needs. Here are a few:
 

  • Easy: The easiest way to integrate KnowledgeOwl in a site or application is to create a link to your knowledge base from inside your application.
  • Intermediate: You can embed our contact form widget into your site or application, which brings up a contact form that will suggest articles based on the current location (page path) of the user and suggests relevant content as they describe their question or problem.
  • Intermediate: You can set up Single Sign On between your application and your knowledge base. This allows you to log users into the knowledge base and assign them to different reader groups to customize the content and experience based on who they are.
  • Advanced: You can use our API to integrate your KnowledgeOwl content into your website or application. You can pull articles based on the current location (context) and display them inside your own application. You can also search and return articles via the API, as well as display content.