Designing a Knowledge Base Quality System

I’ve been blogging recently about Knowledge Base content. Before proceeding, I’m going to do a quick summary of what I’ve said so far.

Content is the important thing – if you don’t make a real effort to get good, useful and relevant content you are wasting your time.

Think carefully in advance about your content. Group related content into a small number of Catalogs, and then document each Catalog. Describe the target audience, and the type of documents you’ll be creating. Create a small number of example documents that will show the style and layout to be used. All of this documentation will become the Editor’s Brief.

When designing your example documents, take a little time to help your Indexing/Search system. Find out how you can help it really understand what the document is about, and then use this in your document structure.

I have a personal preference for short-ish, single subject documents. Decide if these are the kind of documents you want. Try to decide a standard document format (HTML, Word etc) and stick to it for each Catalog, and decide how one document will reference another.

Everything above will come together into an Editor’s Brief. Such documentation is a great thing to have because it will help your content stay focused over the months as your content increases. The Editor’s Brief is also useful to searchers in that it helps them understand what is likely to be in the Catalog.

If you have an Editor’s Brief, it follows that there must be an Editor somewhere, which leads me nicely onto the subject of a Quality System for your Knowledge Base content – something you are likely to need from day one.

Here’s what the Quality System will need to ensure:

  • That the documents placed into the Catalog are technically accurate
  • The documents are in accordance with the Editor’s Brief
  • New documents being added are ‘unique’ (in other word, there is not already a document that addresses the same subject matter)
  • That consumers (searchers) can give feedback, and that the feedback will be read and if needed acted upon by editors
  • Providing a mechanism for periodic review of documents.
  • That a simple mechanism exists for suggesting new documents or content

I know this sounds a bit bureaucratic, but in practice it usually works out to be a common sense approach. I'll expand on this in my next post, and will post and example quality system.