A knowledge base should help users find what they need—quickly and easily. For a leading technology company like F5, a product knowledge base serves a critical business function: it provides valuable self-help functionality to customers that encourages loyalty and repeat business. So, when F5 asked redtech to help streamline its knowledge base, redtech conducted thorough customer research and requirements gathering, and created an IA/UX strategy based on user behavior analysis and known best practices. The strategic project culminated in a presentation to company executives that would help the knowledge base team gain funding for a site redesign.
F5 is in the business of making networks and applications run faster, smarter, and more dynamically, to help organizations get the most out of their IT investments. Customers rely on the AskF5 Knowledge Base to gain access to the latest F5 product updates, guides, release notes, solutions to known issues, and how-to technical information. It’s a treasure trove of knowledge that customers can capitalize on to manage their F5 products more efficiently and effectively. F5 wanted to make it easier for customers to find the AskF5 information they were looking for. This meant improving the overall structure, navigation, and search functionality of the site. F5 asked redtech for guidance in making AskF5 smarter and more dynamic, too.
Doing the Research
We applied our user experience (UX) expertise to the AskF5 Knowledge Base, starting with thorough research. First, we helped F5 conduct a heuristic analysis of AskF5.com, in an effort to reveal the deficiencies of the navigational interface and to discover ways in which it could be improved. We interviewed worldwide F5 customers and received direct feedback on how they experienced the site, and which areas they would like to see enhanced. We also gathered all of the requirements for a site redesign from business owners, including the AskF5 team and the F5 IT department.
The IA/UX Solution
We used the information we had gathered about the AskF5 audience to create user personas and scenarios—character sketches that help designers and business stakeholders understand their audience’s needs. Based on these sketches, we then developed a series of user interaction flow diagrams that visually represent the paths F5 customers might take through AskF5.com. Next, we created an information architecture (IA), and a series of wireframes and preliminary designs to demonstrate how the site could be reconstructed to best showcase—and make easily discoverable—the valuable content that lives on AskF5. The IA and UX was based on customer research, the personas, scenarios, and interaction flow diagrams, as well as known best practices for the web and knowledge bases. To validate this work, we shared these design mockups with the customers we’d interviewed originally, and incorporated their feedback into the proposed redesign.
Armed with heuristic research for a site redesign, business requirements, an IA and UX design, design mockups that would help people “see” what the new site would look like and how it would function, as well as customer-validation for its recommendations—we presented our findings and concepts to a group of F5 executives. The AskF5 team walked away with the strategy and insight necessary to properly plan and budget for the redesign that would bring true benefit to its customer base.