How to Improve Help Center Content with a CCMS

May 23, 2024
image shows woman working on her help center in a ccms

The whole idea of a help center is that it should help your customers find the information they need quickly and efficiently, without having to contact support. But if your help center content is outdated, you could be adding to your customers’ problems instead of solving them. Or you may be struggling to manage your help center as your business grows. Here’s how a component content management system (CCMS) can help.

Before we dive into the benefits of writing and structuring your help center content in a CCMS, let’s take a quick look at what customers and businesses expect from help centers.

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What Is a Help Center and What Are Its Benefits?

A help center is an online, self-service hub that helps customers find information about products and services. Help centers can include step-by-step instructions that help customers get started with your products, as well as information that helps customers troubleshoot and solve problems.

Help center content can come in a variety of formats, such as FAQs, knowledge bases, articles, guides, technical documentation, assembly instructions and customer forums. This content is often available online, in hubs, sites or portals, and as PDFs, in the case of detailed technical documentation and instructions.

Benefits of a Help Center

  • Content is available online
  • Immediate access to solutions
  • Limits costs & resources related to support

There are several benefits to a help center – both for your customers and your business. When customers have a question about a product, or are experiencing a problem, a help center can quickly give them the answer or solution they need. This improves customer satisfaction and helps build trust in your brand.

Another big advantage of a help center is that it helps your business scale. As you gain more customers, or add new products or services, help centers can limit your costs and resources related to support. Help centers can also give employees accurate information to better support customers.

Important Aspects of a Successful Help Site

Are you aware that a majority of customers prefer troubleshooting their issues through online resources rather than contacting customer support? This is why having a complete and easy-to-use help center is so important.

By offering detailed guides, FAQs, and troubleshooting tips, companies can empower users to resolve their problems quickly and independently. The goal is not only to improve user satisfaction, but also to decrease the number of support inquiries, enabling support teams to concentrate on more challenging matters.

A successful help site provides users with the necessary tools to efficiently locate the information they’re looking for. Here are some key features of an effective help site:

  1. Clear and concise content: The information on a help website should be easy to understand and not use complicated language. It should also be well-organized and easy to navigate.
  2. A powerful search engine: The search function on a support website should efficiently and precisely locate the desired information for users. Additionally, it should provide recommendations for related articles and resources.
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Having a section for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can offer prompt and effortless solutions to commonly asked questions. It is also important for it to be well-structured and easily navigable.
  4. Contact information: If users are unable to find the necessary information, a support site should offer a means for them to reach out to customer service. This can be achieved through a contact form, email, or telephone number.
  5. Accessibility: A well-functioning assistance website should be user-friendly for individuals of all capabilities, including those with disabilities such as visual or auditory impairments. By implementing these elements, you can develop an efficient help site that offers users the necessary tools to easily and efficiently locate the information they require.

image shows people working on help center documentation in an office

What Is the Best Way to Create and Publish Content for a Help Center?

Companies often write and publish help center content with software designed for customer service and customer support. These include Zendesk, Salesforce and Freshdesk. These tools include features for help centers, knowledge bases, customer portals, support tickets, and more.

Customer-service software can do a great job of creating a home for your help center content. However, it can be less than ideal for writing and updating your content as your business and range of products grow.

If one of your products changes, for example, you will need to manually change the product’s information everywhere it is mentioned. This is both a time drain on your employees and increases the risk that some information won’t get updated. With a CCMS, however, you only need to update the product information in one central location, and the changes will automatically propagate to all instances where that information is used.

Translations and language localizations pose a similar problem. As your company expands to new markets, it can be difficult to keep translations up to date and ensure that key content is consistent across all markets.

The best way to solve these challenges is to combine your customer-support or CRM software with a component content management system (CCMS).

If your organization operates in multiple regions or languages, a CCMS streamlines the localization and translation process by managing content as modular components, as we will discuss in the next section. The system can then track which components have been translated and which need updates.

This organized approach simplifies coordination with translation teams and ensures that localized content remains consistent and up-to-date across all languages and regions, reducing the time and effort required to manage multilingual content.

How a CCMS Keeps Help Centers Up-to-Date and Consistent

A CCMS is a platform designed to help you author, update and reuse content in the most efficient manner possible. You use the CCMS for authoring and structuring content, then, through an integration with your software, you publish the content in your help center.

What’s the benefit of this? To take the example above, about updating product information, this means you can make one change in the CCMS, then it automatically updates the product information everywhere it is used in your help center.

ShipStation, a provider of ecommerce software, uses Paligo CCMS in exactly this way. The company was writing technical documentation for its help center directly in Zendesk Guide. This meant they had to manually update and manage more than 600 articles. Now with Paligo, if they need to change a paragraph or image in 50 articles, they can update them all at once, helping them save time and increase consistency.

How to Author and Structure Help Center Content in a CCMS

Clear and Intuitive Navigation

When writing an article for a help center, it’s common for a writer to create the entire article from scratch. On a smaller scale, this works fine and meets the needs of customers. Similarly, if an article needs to be created for a different version of the product, the writer might manually copy the first article and make the needed changes. This process, however, soon becomes difficult to manage as your business grows.

The recommendation is to establish a well-organized and structured design for your support website. A successful help center website relies on having navigation that is both clear and intuitive. The first step in achieving this is to create a well-structured layout that organizes content into logical elements.

Users should be able to easily locate the information they need without feeling overwhelmed by a cluttered interface. Employing taxonomies, where broader topics are broken down into more specific subtopics, helps guide users naturally through the content.

For example, a software company’s help center might have main categories like “Getting Started,” “Troubleshooting,” and “Product Features.” Each of these with relevant subcategories beneath them. This structure ensures users can find detailed information without unnecessary clicks.

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Effective search functionality

The implementation of a powerful search functionality is another critical component. An effective search bar should be prominently placed and capable of handling various types of queries, including keywords, phrases, and questions. Advanced features like autocomplete and filters can enhance the search experience by guiding users to the most relevant results quickly.

Additionally, incorporating search analytics can help you understand common search terms and refine your content based on actual user queries. By ensuring that users can efficiently find what they are looking for through search, you reduce frustration and increase the likelihood that they will find solutions independently.

Design and interface

Beyond structural organization and search functionality, the overall design and user interface play a significant role in intuitive navigation. The design should be clean and uncluttered, with ample white space, readable fonts, and consistent formatting to avoid overwhelming users. Intuitive elements, like breadcrumbs, show users their current location within the help center hierarchy. Clear back and home buttons enhance navigation. Interactive elements such as collapsible menus and dropdowns can help manage large amounts of information without sacrificing accessibility.

Ensuring that the help center is responsive and mobile-friendly is also crucial. This is because many users access support resources from their smartphones and tablets. By focusing on these design principles, you create a user-friendly environment that encourages users to explore and find the information they need with minimal effort.

  • Structured Layout: Organize content into clear categories and subcategories. Use a logical hierarchy that makes it easy for users to navigate.
  • Search Functionality: Implement a powerful search feature that can handle various queries and return relevant results quickly.
  • User-friendly design and interface: Make sure the help center is accessible and compatible with mobile devices. Using interactive features like collapsible menus and dropdowns can effectively organize large quantities of data while maintaining accessibility.

Incorporating a CCMS to organize help content

Authoring help center content in a CCMS takes a unique approach. Instead of creating long-form content, the writer creates smaller chunks of content, which are called topics. These topics combine to create the entire article. For example, you could have a topic that is a headline, or a paragraph with a product description, or even an image.

A common issue is ensuring consistency and accuracy across all help materials. As products and services evolve, the information in the help center must be regularly updated to reflect these changes. Without a systematic approach, outdated or conflicting information can confuse users. It also reduces the effectiveness of the help center.

Additionally, managing a large volume of content and ensuring it’s accessible and easy to navigate can be daunting. This is especially true for organizations with multiple products or services.

So a benefit of this structured authoring approach, is that it makes it easy to reuse content and update it all at once. If you need to change an image or an instruction, you can change the content of the topic. Then you can automatically update the content everywhere that topic is used. This keeps your content consistent, so you don’t have to worry about customers finding outdated information that leads to frustration.

With structured authoring, you get a single source of truth for all your content.

And if you need to create a slightly different version of your article, such as swapping out the name of a product with another product name, you can use variables. Variables enable you to reuse content that is mostly similar with slight variations, such as content about different products, versions or users. This saves you time and makes your content more consistent.

image shows man using structured authoring on computer

Visual Aids – Images, Diagrams, and Screenshots

Using visual aids is an efficient way to enhance understanding and retention of information. Visual steps are easier to understand when complex instructions are broken down into images, diagrams, and screenshots. For instance, a screenshot highlighting specific buttons or menu options helps clarify textual instructions, making it easier for users to follow along.

Diagrams illustrate workflows or processes, showing how different elements interact. This is particularly useful for explaining technical or multi-step processes. These visual elements help bridge the gap between written instructions and practical application, reducing ambiguity and improving user comprehension. But of course, remember to always balance your visuals and text.

By incorporating these visual elements, a help center transforms from a static repository of information into a dynamic, engaging resource that actively supports users in resolving their issues. This not only improves user satisfaction but also empowers users to become more self-sufficient, reducing the demand on customer support teams.

Publishing Help Center Content Through a CCMS Integration

The Paligo CCMS makes it easy to publish content to help centers through integrations with leading customer-service software, such as Zendesk, Salesforce, Freshdesk, and ServiceNow. Based on open standard XML, Paligo CCMS enables you to publish content to multiple channels and formats at the same time. This includes PDFs, HTML5, CRMs, Git repositories, and content delivery platforms.

Software provider Planning Center, for example, uses Paligo CCMS to publish content to Zendesk for 13 separate help centers, one for each of their products. The help centers share about 20% of their content. With Paligo, they can easily reuse and update that content, significantly cutting their workload. Planning Center also uses variables so they can reuse similar content with slight variations. Because of this, updates that used to take four hours now take only 30 minutes.

The Paligo CCMS also includes layout features that enable you to quickly create modern HTML5 help center homepages. You can then style these with CSS and JavaScript. ShipStation uses Paligo’s built-in layout features for collapsible headers (accordions), image lightboxes, and built-in glossaries. This ensures consistent formatting, headings and fonts.

The automation in the publishing process reduces the manual effort required to publish content in multiple places and ensures that all users have access to the latest information simultaneously. The ability to quickly and precisely deploy content is essential in order to uphold a dependable help center.

Regular Maintenance and Improvement

Ensuring that your help center continues to be an invaluable resource for users necessitates meticulous and consistent maintenance and improvement measures. This means implementing strategies that not only address any emerging issues effectively but also proactively enhance the overall user experience. By doing so, your help center can adapt to changing user needs, stay ahead of evolving technological advancements, and remain a trusted source of information and support for your customers.

Evaluating content periodically

One of the primary steps in the process of keeping your help center up-to-date is conducting periodic content audits. These audits involve systematically reviewing all the help center articles and materials to ensure they are still accurate, relevant, and useful. Outdated information should be updated or removed, and new content should be added to address emerging issues or frequently asked questions. This process helps in keeping the help center fresh and aligned with users’ current needs and the latest developments in your products or services.

Analyzing user feedback

Another critical aspect of maintaining an effective help center is analyzing user feedback and engagement metrics. User feedback, such as ratings and comments on articles, provides direct insight into what users find helpful or confusing.

Additionally, engagement metrics like page views, time spent on articles, and search queries can reveal trends. They also highlight areas where users are struggling to find the information they need. By regularly monitoring these metrics, you can identify which articles require improvement. You also see which topics need more comprehensive coverage, and where there are gaps in the content. This data-driven approach ensures the help center evolves in response to actual user behavior and preferences.

Always improving

It is important to integrate a continuous improvement loop into the management of your help center. This involves not only updating content and addressing user feedback, but also staying proactive about potential future needs. Be sure to regularly schedule time for your team to brainstorm and research upcoming changes in your industry. And don’t forget new product features and common customer issues that might arise.

Training and encouraging your team to stay informed about best practices in content management and customer support further enhances the quality of your help center. By promoting a culture of constant enhancement, you guarantee your support center stays a dynamic and trustworthy source that consistently surpasses the expectations of its users.

  • Content Audits: Perform periodic content audits to remove outdated information and fill in any gaps.
  • User feedback: Consistently keeping track of key measures helps in identifying articles in need of enhancement, determining subjects requiring more thorough coverage, and pinpointing any potential gaps in the material.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and improve the help center based on user feedback and performance metrics.

Modernize Your Help Center and Save Time with Paligo CCMS

If managing content for your help center has become too time-consuming, or you’re getting feedback that your content is out of date or inconsistent, it could be time to give Paligo a try. Paligo CCMS helps you deliver better customer experiences while saving time with content production and publishing. And the best part? Paligo CCMS helps you deliver on the vision of scaling your business without scaling your costs.

Paligo CCMS also has built-in features for efficient team collaboration and translation management. Ready to learn more? Request a demo to see how Paligo can revolutionize your help center.

This article has been updated. Originally published in February 2024.

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Paligo is built to meet the most demanding requirements, with plans made for any company from the growing SMB to the large Enterprise.

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