Why Document360 is better than INTERCOM Articles for Knowledgebase?

|  Posted: July 26, 2018  |  Categories: Knowledge Base Software Documentation

We’ve written this handy article comparing our SaaS knowledge base solution Document360 to Articles — an Intercom knowledge base software.

In our opinion, the advantage of using Document360 over Intercom Articles is clear; but many companies still wonder if they should go with Intercom. Intercom is a well-known brand in the customer support software market and their chat software is extremely popular.  

Such companies usually end up embarking on a time-consuming knowledge base trial that doesn’t work out. They would have been better off selecting a specialist knowledge base in the first place.

Drawbacks of using Intercom Knowledge Base Articles

Lets take a look at the drawbacks of using Intercom Articles for product knowledge base.

1. A standalone knowledge base

Document360 is specifically developed keeping SaaS companies in mind. Unlike Intercom Articles, it’s not a lead magnet for a flagship product.

Intercom knowledge base (Articles) comes bundled in with their other products. You can change the settings on the sign-up page to just trial Articles, but you can still tell immediately that this knowledge base is an add-on. As a result, it won’t get the same attention as Intercom’s flagship chat app.

In fact, Articles has been developed simply to augment the chat messenger. You will be strongly encouraged to use their entire app suite if you opt for Intercom Articles.

So for example, when you sign up, you will see their whole suite of applications:

Intercom Knowledge Base - Welcome screen

You already have Articles so you can access that application. However, the interface implies that your product is incomplete without the other apps.

In contrast, with Document360, you are simply taken straight to the editor. There is an introduction to the knowledge base software and options for launching your new help site.

Document 360 Knowledge Base - Document360 Welcome Screen

With Intercom knowledge base, however, even when you get to the article editor page, your help center is not “on”. Not all of their customers want to have a public knowledge base because Intercom encourage you to keep your articles inside the messaging app.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Intercom Articles homepage screen

The buttons on the left-hand side navigation refer to their “Inbox”, “Messages” and “Platform” products respectively, further implying you should be using their full suite of applications.

2. Difficulty creating a knowledge base

In Intercom knowledge base, you create an article but it doesn’t typically become part of an over-arching knowledge base with its own domain. The articles will be within the messaging app as part of their overall platform.

Articles are organised as part of “collections”. Without turning your help center “on”, your customers cannot browse the entirety of your articles or independently search for content. Therefore, they are never empowered to serve themselves.

You have the ability to import your content from a previous knowledge base, but they would then be hosted inside the Intercom Articles app.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Your list of draft and published articles in Intercom

In contrast, in Document360 you have the option to both import and export your own data. This means your content always remains yours. Such an option comes in especially handy if you have written your content in Markdown, and wish to export your data to another platform.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Import and export in Document360

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3. Custom domain settings

As we mentioned before, you have the option to “turn on” your help center in Intercom. Even when you do turn your help center on, then comes the issue of setting up your own custom domain.

Your site is hosted as a sub-domain. There is hardly any branding for your site. If you want your own domain, you will need developers to link your site to a custom domain. Intercom provides detailed technical documentation for this process.

"Intercom

Intercom doesn’t actually want you to set up your own internal knowledge base on a custom domain (or external). They have begrudgingly made it possible so they can say they offer this functionality, but the idea is for you to keep your articles inside the messaging app.

In Document360, in contrast, you can easily change your help center’s domain to your own custom domain, and verify it easily within the application. 

Intercom Knowledge Base - Document360 custom domain settings

4. Customising your knowledge base

There are then some extremely basic tools to help you customise your knowledge base’s appearance, but Intercom also doesn’t really want you to add your own branding.

The purpose of your help content is to sit inside the Intercom platform and be served up by Intercom’s chatbot, so it doesn’t need to look pretty.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Customisation in Intercom’s Article knowledge base

In contrast, Document360 allows you to build a self-contained knowledge base that your customers can visit every time they need help. You aren’t forcing them to interact with bots inside a chat app.

Here’s what a sample company knowledge base looks like in Document360:

Intercom Knowledge Base - Sample KB generated by Document360

The knowledge base is fully customisable because you can add your own JavaScript and CSS. While this will require some access to development and design skills, we have chosen to add this option so you can make your knowledge base truly unique.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Document360 custom code capabilities for formatting your knowledge base

Alternatively, you also have some fairly detailed settings that you can adjust to change the theme of your knowledge base solution. Change the theme to any hexadecimal colour, and add your company’s logo.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Knowledge Base Settings

Your brand is your identity. Carry your brand identity into your knowledge base.

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In Document360 the standard theme is relatively basic, but that’s why we’ve provided the option for full customisation.

We’ve also provided capabilities for customising the landing page or homepage of your knowledge base. This is the first page your users will likely see when they hit your knowledge base. You must optimize this page to make it look professional.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Landing page customisation page

Again, you can add custom HTML in case you want to add some more unique flair. The whole interface is intuitive and the editor is WYSIWYG, so you don’t necessarily need developer skills to customise your knowledge base.

5. Writing articles

When it comes to creating knowledge base articles, Document360 has some clear advantages.

The Intercom knowledge base (Articles) editor has a basic user interface. There is no way to change any formatting or edit the source code of your articles directly (although you can paste in some code).

Intercom Knowledge Base - Writing a knowledge base article in Intercom

You must first write or paste in your content, and then decide where you want your content to be located inside the app. You cannot customise the formatting of these pages, although you can add buttons and media.

In contrast, Document360 offers a highly sophisticated editor that even allows you to publish content in Markdown.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Document360 article editor

You can easily highlight warning content to make it stand out with the click of a button, and change whether you want auto scroll enabled on your articles. All the usual formatting options are there, and the knowledge base navigational structure is clearly visible on the left-hand side.

In Document360, you get a birds’ eye view of your knowledge base. This encourages extremely agile based SaaS documentation practices.

6. Pricing and payment plans

When it comes to pricing, Intercom knowledge base product and Document360 seem fairly similar at first.

Intercom’s Articles is $49 a month for the knowledge base. This application works as an add-on for their main suite. You are actually paying quite a lot for a product that works best when integrated with other software.

In contrast, Document360 starts at $49 a month for a single knowledge base and you get two team accounts. There are options to scale up as needed when your company grows. The pricing is the same for more functionality and a standalone software.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Document360 pricing plan page

We also want you to be able to easily understand our payment plans so you can make the right software choice. There are no hidden fees.

Intercom Knowledge Base - Pricing

Intercom employs some shady pricing tactics where they first tell you that the “flat rate” is $49 a month. You must create an account to view the detailed pricing.

After this, Intercom then forces you to input your payment details before you can proceed to your “free” trial. This means you have to remember to cancel your trial before 14 days is up. While this cancelling is usually an easy process, this approach places more burden on the customer to avoid accidentally enrolling in a subscription they don’t want.

Document360 lets you set up a free trial without the need of your credit card details. It cancels automatically if you don’t want to roll over into a subscription. Our free trial is also 14 days long, so that you have longer to get a feel for the product.

We think our customers can decide for themselves if they like our product, and want to commit to a subscription.

Final remarks

Document360 fully empowers you to create your own self-service knowledge base, and change any feature or widget to suit you. With Intercom knowledge base, you’re funneled into their system, which is really all about making you sign up for their chat bot software.

With Intercom, you’re not really buying knowledge base software – it’s just a marketing tactic to get you to buy into their main software platform.

In some cases, that will be fine. For companies that really want to invest in their self-service support strategy, Intercom Articles is woefully inadequate.

The issue is that Intercom markets their solution as complete knowledge base software. They refer to the ability to create a ‘public knowledge base’ on their main product website – which you certainly can do, just with a lot of difficulty.

Intercom is very good at talking about the “benefits” of using their software, but they rarely explain anything about its actual features. The result is a lack of transparency. This makes it harder for potential customers to make an informed decision about which software to choose.

If you’re looking for high quality, dedicated knowledge base software, then Document360 is a better bet than Intercom knowledge base.

Have you used any of the two knowledge base software? How did you find the experience of working with them?

Tell us more in the comments section below.

Take our SaaS knowledge base software Document360 for a test run now.