The Best Knowledge Base Software in 2021

Empower your employees and customers to find the information they need, when they need it.

Knowledge base software is a broad and diverse product category, but at its core, it always has the same purpose — to make knowledge accessible.

Both your employees and your customers are bound to have repetitive questions at some point. What is our process for handling refunds? How do I reset my password? Where can I find our brand guidelines? If this information isn't clearly documented or easily accessible, one of three things is likely to happen:

Either scenario will result in lost time, decreased productivity, and bad customer experience, all of which affect your bottom line. But it doesn't have to be this way.

The most straightforward way to prevent this from happening is to create a knowledge base. There are many tools specifically designed for this task, but finding the best solution is not always easy. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about knowledge base software to help you make the right choice.

What is knowledge base software?

Simply put, knowledge base software is a tool that helps employees or customers find answers to their questions on their own. It serves as a centralized online library of information about a particular product, topic, or company. It can contain how-to guides, tutorials, FAQs, and any other content that its intended audience may find useful.

At most companies, online knowledge base software gradually replaced physical manuals and handbooks, that were hard to search through and keep up-to-date.

Some use the term "knowledge base" interchangeably with "wiki". Indeed, there is a significant overlap between the two product categories and their intended purpose. At the same time, there are some fundamental distinctions between how they work.

Wiki software is generally designed around the idea of crowdsourcing knowledge. It aims to facilitate team collaboration and help a community of users collectively maintain the content. On the other hand, knowledge base software is best suited for a small group of editors who are responsible for creating and maintaining the information. But ultimately, both of these tools can be successfully used for knowledge sharing.

Types of knowledge base software

Modern online knowledge bases can take many forms depending on their format, content, and target audience. Before comparing different solutions and trying to identify the best one, it's important to understand what types of knowledge base software exist.

External vs. internal knowledge base software

When evaluating knowledge base software, the first question you have to ask yourself is: Who will be the audience of this knowledge base? Will it be your employees or your customers? Depending on the answer, you might need an entirely different tool.

An internal knowledge base (also referred to as a private knowledge base) is designed to be used internally by your team, department, or company. It's a shared knowledge repository where your employees can privately share a variety of company knowledge, such as HR policies, employee handbooks, standard operating procedures, and so on.

Examples of internal knowledge software include:

Knowledge base software Nuclino

Internal knowledge base software example (Nuclino)

An external knowledge base (also called a help desk knowledge base), on the other hand, is a self-service information portal created for your customers and users. It helps them find the answers to many of their common questions without having to email or call your customer support team. Such knowledge bases are usually publicly available and indexable by search engines such as Google.

Examples of external knowledge software include:

Some tools, such as Helpjuice and GitBook, also offer hybrid solutions and allow you to set up both your internal and customer-facing knowledge base within one platform.

Proprietary vs. open-source knowledge base software

Another important distinction to be made is whether the knowledge base software is proprietary or open-source.

Open-source software tends to be popular among developers because it offers a high level of flexibility and control over the code. Open-source knowledge base software would allow you to freely integrate your knowledge base into the other systems you are using without paying for expensive licenses or being restricted by the license terms.

While most popular knowledge base software tends to be proprietary, there are a few open-source options you can choose from, including:

It's important to note that open-source knowledge base tools are not without their drawbacks. Such projects rely on volunteers to maintain the codebase and can end up being abandoned. Installing an open-source solution would be a highly technical task that will require resources from your development team. And once it's set up, your knowledge base likely won't offer the same quality of user experience as some of the established SaaS solutions.

Overall, open-source knowledge base software may be a valid option for developers, while other users may want to consider a proprietory tool instead.

Paid vs. free knowledge base software

Today, most knowledge base software offers a freemium pricing model. The solution is often available for free, with certain features restricted or limited in some way. Such freemium tools include Nuclino, Confluence, Tettra, Groove, and many others.

However, there are also solutions that offer unlimited free access, as well as solutions that only offer a short free trial before urging you to pay. Fully free knowledge base software includes the open-source solutions mentioned above, while certain other products, including HelpScout and Zendesk, are only available as paid subscriptions.

8 best knowledge base software

As you can see, there is a wide variety of different solutions to choose from. No single tool can be objectively called the best knowledge base software — the right choice depends on your organization's unique requirements and preferences.

To make your decision easier, we have put together a list of 8 best knowledge base software, based on real user reviews.

Check out the list below and find the knowledge base software that best suits your needs.

1. Nuclino

Best knowledge base software Nuclino

Nuclino is an ultra-lightweight knowledge base software, designed for internal knowledge sharing. Unlike many other knowledge base tools that are packed with complex and rarely used features, menus, and settings, Nuclino focuses on the essentials. Its interface is clean, intuitive, and distraction-free, allowing anyone to quickly get started with the tool.

Related pages can be easily linked together using internal links. This will allow your team to explore your knowledge base in a more intuitive way and help them discover relevant information more quickly. Simply type "@" and the name of the page you want to link to.

Internal links between pages in knowledge base software

Every interaction in Nuclino is optimized for speed. All content can be edited collaboratively in real time, with every change instantly saved and preserved in the version history. The search is just as fast, allowing you to quickly retrieve the information you need.

Knowledge base software search

It's worth noting that while Nuclino can be used exclusively as a knowledge base, it's a highly versatile tool that is capable of much more. It offers a variety of ways to structure and visualize your content, including a nested list, a Kanban board, and a mindmap-style graph. This makes it a great solution for many additional use cases, including project collaboration, sprint planning, asynchronous communication, and more. You can essentially consolidate all your work in one tool, minimizing unnecessary context-switching.

What makes Nuclino a great knowledge base:

What users say about Nuclino:

"Great knowledge base for capturing information. We use Nuclino daily to make sure we're documenting everything — from sales playbooks to HR processes to specific data collection checklists. It's easy to use, update, comment, and share."

Capterra review

2. Document360

Knowledge base software Document360

Document360 is a hybrid solution that can bring together your internal and customer-facing knowledge base. In addition to that, it’s possible to create multiple knowledge base sites for different projects and products.

Document360 is a relatively easy tool despite its extensive feature set. Content creators can choose between a Markdown editor and visual WYSIWYG tools, tailoring the editing experience according to their preference. Other notable features include built-in localization mechanisms, content review reminders, SEO features, comments, and more.

What makes Document360 a great knowledge base:

What users say about Document360:

"Document360 gives you a central hub of information. It can be used as both an internal and external knowledge base. The top feature for me in this tool is the powerful analytics that tells you what people have and what they are looking for, allowing you to plug the gap. This makes your knowledge base more reliable and usable."

Capterra review

3.Confluence

Knowledge base software Confluence

Atlassian Confluence was originally designed as a software documentation tool, but it can serve as an internal knowledge base just as well. It's a part of the Atlassian product suite and is particularly popular among teams using other Atlassian products, such as Jira and BitBucket.

Confluence is one of the oldest solutions on the market — it was launched in 2004 and has been continuously developed since. Today, some find that it has become too overengineered, complex, and slow to be used effectively in a small team. However, larger enterprises appreciate its flexibility and extensive feature count. Note that it comes with a certain learning curve, so be prepared to dedicate enough time to training your team.

What makes Confluence a great knowledge base:

Looking for more tools similar to Confluence? Check out this list of Confluence alternatives.

What users say about Confluence:

"We use Confluence for a knowledge base and it works very well. We also put our software documentation in there as well. It is a great system with fantastic versioning and we never have any trouble with it. However, it can be really complex for the uninitiated."

Capterra review

4. SharePoint

Knowledge base software SharePoint

If your business is already powered by Microsoft products, then an internal knowledge base built with SharePoint can be a great addition to your toolset. It integrates quite well with other solutions in the Microsoft suite, such as Teams, OneDrive, and Power BI Reports, making it easy to keep all your work in sync.

Strictly speaking, SharePoint is not a knowledge base, but it can certainly be used as one. This is an exceptionally powerful piece of software that can be molded into whatever you need it to be, from a company intranet to a project management tool. Note that this flexibility comes with a great deal of complexity, making it a tool best suited for large enterprises that can afford to assign a dedicated full-time SharePoint administrator.

What makes SharePoint a great knowledge base:

What users say about SharePoint:

"SharePoint can do just about anything, from intranet, department organization, knowledge base, extranet access, project management, to SSRS reporting. It is one of the most capable products I've ever dealt with. Its strength is also its weakness, because it has so much functionality it isn't easy to master. If you want to fully use this software you need a dedicated Sharepoint administrator and an organization that is engaged in making it useful."

Capterra review

5. Zoho

Knowledge base software Zoho

Zoho offers a diverse suite of business, collaboration, and productivity apps, including an HR platform, a project management tool, chat, and more. There is a Zoho product for nearly every task — and building a knowledge base is one of them.

Zoho Wiki and the all-new Zoho Learn are designed to help you set up your internal knowledge base and build employee training programs. Zoho Desk is an external knowledge management system designed to educate your customers and boost the quality of your customer support.

Most tools in the Zoho suite tend to strike a good balance between functionality and ease of use, offering all the basic features within a single user-friendly interface. Zoho's pricing plans for individual tools are also quite affordable. If you choose to purchase a bundle of tools, however, note that the monthly costs can quickly add up.

What makes Zoho a great knowledge base:

What users say about Zoho products:

"Zoho Wiki is a great software for knowledge management and collaborating with globally located teams on certain projects. It has a well-designed feed, and strong access controls. This gives me master access to all the materials I need, with a good customizable layout too."

G2 review

"Overall the Zoho Desk platform has been a good move for us. In our organization, we use several products from the Zoho suite, so the biggest pro for us was integration. Other features that were notably positive were custom domain mapping, converting tickets to articles in the knowledge base, suggested articles for agents, and of course the robust rules and macros that can be set up for the account to automate as many repetitive tasks as possible."

Capterra review

6. Papyrs

Knowledge base software Papyrs

Papyrs is a fairly general-purpose tool that can be used as a knowledge base, company intranet, client portal, and more. While it's not as powerful and flexible as some of the other popular knowledge base software, Papyrs is more user-friendly. It was designed to be a more lightweight and modern alternative to SharePoint.

Its feature set covers everything you might need to set up your knowledge base, including a drag-and-drop page editor, powerful search, version history, user permissions, comments, and more. You can also make parts of your knowledge base public to set up your product knowledge base, get feedback from your customers, or share your work with your clients and partners.

Papyrs offers a tiered pricing model. Its cheapest plan starts at $89 per month, making it a fairly expensive option if you are a small team. Large companies, however, can take advantage of the "Company Intranet" plan that charges a flat $899 fee per month, regardless of how many users you add to your knowledge base.

What makes Papyrs a great knowledge base:

What users say about Papyrs:

"Creating a wiki site was super easy with this intuitive program. Although for our needs some of the features are a bit too rich, the overall product is much more user-friendly than our last intranet site, and it's much more appealing to our company users as well."

Capterra review

7. GitBook

Knowledge base software GitBook

GitBook is a knowledge base software solution designed for software development teams. It offers a wide range of features that any developer can appreciate, including Markdown commands, code snippets, Git-style branching, GitHub integration, and more.

GitBook is also a hybrid solution that allows you to manage your internal documentation and customer-facing knowledge base within one platform. If you are running a software development team and like the idea of consolidating all your knowledge and documentation in one place, GitBook is certainly worth checking out.

What makes GitBook a great knowledge base:

What users say about Gitbook:

"GitBook is really easy to get started with and the best part is that it supports Markdown. Writing documentation in Markdown is way easier and Gitbook makes it easy to organize the content. They support custom domains which is another nice thing about the product, it is really good for branding."

Capterra review

8. Groove

Knowledge base software Groove

Groove is an all-in-one customer service platform that comes with its own built-in knowledge base software. It stands out among other CRM tools, such as Zendesk and Intercom, thanks to its ease of use. It doesn't have many bells and whistles and aims to keep its product as simple and user-friendly as possible.

Groove is best suited for small businesses and startups who are looking for a simple but practical customer-facing knowledge base. Its affordable pricing also makes it a great choice for teams working with a limited budget.

What makes Groove a great knowledge base:

What users say about Groove:

"Groove is really easy to use and does the job that far more complex systems do, better. It really makes the process of building and managing a ticketing system and a knowledge base easy. The integrations with WordPress are really slick and the add-on integrations with Slack and live chat support are just awesome. It's the ideal blend of performance, capability, integration, and function."

Capterra review

Find the right knowledge base for your company

There are many other great knowledge base tools that deserve an honorable mention, including BookStack, MediaWiki, Notion (and many Notion alternatives), XWiki, and more.

Knowledge base software is a very wide product category, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A tool that works great for one team may end up being a bad fit for another. But regardless of your specific use case, requirements, and preferences, there are several features that all great knowledge base tools have in common, including:

As long as the knowledge base software you choose ticks these boxes, you will be setting yourself up for success. We hope our guide has made it easier to make the right decision.

It's also important to keep in mind that finding the right tool is only half the battle. At the end of the day, a knowledge base is only as good as its content. A user-friendly tool can make your knowledge base easier to maintain. But developing the right habits and actually putting in the time and effort to make sure your knowledge base contains accurate and helpful information is just as important.

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