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The Knowledgement Starter Kit: Wikis, knowledge bases, and knowledge hubs

The Knowledgement Starter Kit: Wikis, knowledge bases, and knowledge hubs

A collection of free, time-saving templates for managing information.
Last updated: 2/8/2021

This Starter Kit showcases free, time-saving templates for managing information. And each template is customizable, so you can organize knowledge in a way that works best for your company or team.

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Learn more about Coda

How to use this doc: Read our knowledge management insights on this page, and then explore templates to help you create an intuitively organized and engaging hub for your team in the
and
pages.


We can all agree that knowledge is power. But knowledge management, or “knowledgement,” can be a tough nut for people to crack. At Coda, we’ve seen the whole gamut: knowledge hubs, wikis, intranets, playbooks, team docs, k-bases, and more. And through that experience,
we’ve identified some common problems that hold teams back from their “single source of truth,” and conversely, the helpful patterns that combat our entropic tendencies and create a system that
makes everyone’s job easier.

Shall we start with some success stories? In the webinars below, we meet four people who’ve turned their knowledgement systems into simple, scalable hubs. The first webinar focuses on product documentation hub docs, with Webflow’s
and PandaDoc’s
. The second explores general company wikis from Mode’s
and BrightInsight’s
.

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To summarize insights from the webinars, there are two big reasons why knowledge management systems fail:
: Information is segmented into a set of folders whose organization makes sense only to the person who created them.
: That siloed information results in duplicative and perpetually out-of-date data.

Perhaps you’re making a company wiki to alleviate the pains of onboarding new employees. Or maybe you need to contain an every-growing list of support content. Whatever the use case, the following insights and templates will help you create an intuitively organized and engaging hub for your team.

Problem 1:

When teams grow fast, information has to keep up, and it’s not always arranged in a way that’s sustainable. Soon, people are asking the same questions over and over, creating a negative feedback loop and interrupting workflows. In other words, the information is
somewhere
, but no one knows how to find it.

Before you start, plan the schema.

Every doc you make has something known as a
, or a blueprint for how data is structured and accessed on each page. If a doc is a house, schema is the floor plan. Without conscious consideration for schema, a doc can grow unwieldy with information that’s hard to find. If you want a healthy doc that scales with your team, you need to be thoughtful about schema.

Take this bit of advice Van-Anh shares from her process developing
:
Thinking about architecture early in the process helped us find clarity around what to include. We decided to use a hub-and-spoke model where specific processes are in their own docs and not the wiki, which acts more like a landing page.

Introduce your doc—and set expectations.

Attention spans are short. Before your readers have a chance to click away, put the most important information in a place they can’t possible miss. And why not try to engage them with a checklist that helps them navigate through the rest of the doc?

We took a cue from Mode’s company wiki and created an
template that reminds folks of the company mission and values. Set your own expectations by typing
into your doc. Here’s a preview:

Check a box, feel the rush. 👇

Do this first:
Browse our
and get familiar with commonly-used acronyms.
Join #slack-channel for updates.
Watch this
for context on why knowledge hubs are important.

Cater to different learning styles.

Every person that reads your knowledge hub or wiki will be different, from their experiences to their context. Presenting information in different ways gives your team the ability to work off of the same data, in a way that makes sense to them. Pull in information from other docs, like team goals and meeting notes, with
. Embed YouTube videos, Figma files, and Mode dashboards to give readers a break from walls of text.

Turn a list into a table—and perhaps the most popular page in your doc, like Mode’s
. Or, if you’re building a team hub, transform a table of your team’s information with cards using this
template:

What are we doing today, folks? Add your card.👇
Team updates
0
BD
Buck Dubois
What are you working on?
Confirming the timeline with the Engineering team.
Today's working hours
9am-5pm
PR
Polly Rose
What are you working on?
Writing a blog post about next week’s product launch.
Today's working hours
8:30am-3pm
JB
James Booth
What are you working on?
Evaluating candidates for the engineer role.
Today's working hours
10am-2pm

Give your team a key to finding info quickly.

Single source of truth or not, your knowledge management system is bound to have layers of content. And sometimes wayfinding is better done with a system that means something to your team, like iconography. This tip comes from Anna:

Iconography helps me with the page structure. Each page has a unique icon depending on the type of content. Every feature page has a star and includes all of the information, pages with book icons are guides how to use the feature, and so on. And as the manager of the knowledge help, it saves me a ton of time—I never have to guess which icon to use.

Explore a snippet of Webflow’s support knowledge base page iconography below, and the rest
:
Feature
Page content:
Subpages for guides, issues, and FAQs related to this feature
star
Common Feature request
Page content:
Subpages for guides, issues, and FAQs related to this feature request. Example, multi language sites
star half
Plans
Page content:
Subpages for guides, issues, and FAQs related to this plan
bank or dollar
Guide
Page content:
How to use the feature guide
guide
Info
Page content:
Usually internal info. Example description of UI in Admin
info
Tool guide
Page content:
Info about a tool we use and how to use it
settings or cog

Problem 2:

Friend or FOE (Fear of Engagement)? Change is never easy, even when it solves real problems. And Ilya makes a great point:

It’s not just about the structure of information. It’s about how satisfied I am with the usage.

Even the most organized knowledge hub will suffer from low adoption if the content is duplicative, out-of-date, and just plain boring. Van-Anh’s realization about usability echos her insight about knowledgement organization:
it needs to be intentional.

I hadn’t really thought about UI or making it fun, which I realized was actually really important. In the beginning, it took a much more serious tone, but then I tried to incorporate humor when appropriate, or icons and visuals, just to make it much more engaging. Instead of a chore to go through documentation, it’s actually an engaging channel to learn, access, and contribute to knowledge.

Tap into your team’s inner hall monitor.

At some point, your content will be wrong. Screenshots will be outdated. Someone will find a typo (!). Acknowledging that you can’t set-and-forget your knowledge management system is the first step toward usability. Unless you have a lean team, it’s probably not sustainable for you alone to shoulder the responsibility of making sure every piece of data is accurate at all times. Delegate to your teammates and keep the process simple, like with this
template.

Does this doc need an update? Let us know. 👇

Request an update

All update requests
1
Update needed
Date added
Requester
Requestee
Notify
Notified?
1
Can we add the updated design mocks?
2/2/2021, 7:50 AM
BD
LT
Notify
2
The new hire plan is a bit out of date
2/2/2021, 7:59 AM
MM
PR
Notify
There are no rows in this table

Reference information instead of duplicating.

When you carefully consider your doc’s schema, you’re also laying the foundation for your doc’s data. And in the context of your knowledge hub, you’ll have the opportunity to avoid duplicate information from the start.

Anna, for example, uses a glossary to give readers all the information they need without replicating the context through Webflow’s
:

I can add an acronym to the glossary and then @ mention it everywhere in my doc without needing to explain it over and over again. People can click the link or hover over it to see all the information they need.

We adapted Anna’s glossary as a template that you can easily add to your doc by typing
. And with @ mentions, you can see the definition of
@Thumbs up
by simply hovering over the link—no page-switching required.

Define 👎. 👇

Glossary for the National Thumb Wrestling Organization
2
One, two, three, four. I declare a thumb war.
The game is typically initiated with both the players uttering the rhyme "One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war", passing their thumbs over each other in time with this rhyme. The rhyme is sometimes extended with "Five, six, seven, eight, try to keep your thumb straight." or "Five, six, seven, eight. This should be a piece of cake." A regional variation in Boston is “five, six, seven, eight, open up the battle gate.” In South America, the starting song is "ésta es la pulseada china", as in France, "un, deux, trois, bras de fer chinois" ("this is the Chinese arm wrestling"), with the same thumb dance as in English.
Thumb wrestling
A game played by two players in which the thumbs are used to simulate fighting. The object of the game is to pin the opponent's thumb, often to a count of three.
Thumbs up
The players face each other and each holds out their left hand or right hand in a "thumbs up", and they link hands such that each player's fingers curl around the other player's fingers. Players may not use any of the fingers except the thumb to pin down their opponent’s thumb.
Tags
#technique
#phrases
#rules
One, two, three, four. I declare a thumb war.
Description
The game is typically initiated with both the players uttering the rhyme "One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war", passing their thumbs over each other in time with this rhyme. The rhyme is sometimes extended with "Five, six, seven, eight, try to keep your thumb straight." or "Five, six, seven, eight. This should be a piece of cake." A regional variation in Boston is “five, six, seven, eight, open up the battle gate.” In South America, the starting song is "ésta es la pulseada china", as in France, "un, deux, trois, bras de fer chinois" ("this is the Chinese arm wrestling"), with the same thumb dance as in English.

Establish a sense of accountability.

Does your team realize that the knowledge hub you created is actually for them? Carving out space for conversation—to share their knowledge or give feedback—also creates space for shared responsibility. Suddenly,
your
knowledge is
everyone’s
knowledge. And
your
doc is
everyone’s
doc.

In
, crowdsourcing turned readers into stakeholders and stakeholders into champions of BrightInsight’s wiki:

We created a crowdsources Q&A page where people can submit questions, multiple people can answer, and people can upvote what resonates. We really care about crowdsourcing feedback and information, and the voting table made this process more enjoyable.

And she used our
template, a small-but-mighty tool to engage your team.

Weigh in. 👇
Done
Idea
Author
Vote
Upvotes
Upvoters
1
Which parts of the thumb wrestling tournament registration page can we A/B test?
AD
1
1
ED
2
Everyone loves magic—how can we tie a magic show into our next tournament?
LT
1
1
ED
3
What is the process for launching an attendee feedback tracker?
BD
0
4
Will there be any scale issues if we make the tournament virtual?
FM
0
There are no rows in this table

Get a sense for who is using your doc—and who isn’t.

Collecting data on your doc usage will help you know when to refresh your knowledge hub beyond the typos and screenshot updates. You’ll also be able to quickly identify your stakeholders and if you have buy-in from where you need it most. While you could use a
or a
as gauges, you could also explicitly ask who has eyes on your doc. Try adding the
to the pages where you know you need eyes.

If you’ve made it this far, you deserve the satisfaction of hitting that button. 👇


Your knowledge hub may never be the perfect single source of truth, and that’s ok. You can still create the perfect doc for your team—one that makes everyone’s jobs easier.

If you need help
building docs
or
have tips for making beautiful docs
, please share on
.

💡 Have a drag-and-drop template idea? Email
to let us know!
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