Managing Zendesk Guide like a pro

Written by
Jude Kriwald
Zendesk Consultant
August 29, 2023
min read

Table of Contents

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A help center gives you a priceless opportunity to allow your customers to answer their own question without the need to contact your support team, which is a comparably slower and more expensive option. Zendesk Guide is the most widely used help centre software worldwide: hundreds of millions of help centre pages built using it.


A help centre is only as useful as its articles are helpful, however, meaning it’s important to get these basic building blocks right. Everyone has had the awful experience of being sent to an FAQ page only to find it hard or impossible to find the answer they need. Excellent Guide articles are much more than simple instructional pages. With this in mind, here’s how to make your help center simple and helpful.

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Getting started

In the top right of any Zendesk page, click the four squares and then click on Guide

If you’ve never used Zendesk Guide before, there’s a chance that Zendesk will ask you if you want to turn on Guide for your account. Go ahead and confirm.

Similar to creating a new ticket within support, click Add in the top left of your screen, then select Article

The new article UI

Writing or pasting in the copy for your article, and adding a title, is as simple as any email or word processing client. Zendesk allows you to format text, add tables, images, videos, hyperlinks as well as custom HTML.

The features that might look new to you are those in the toolbar on the right of your screen. Here, Zendesk offers a host of choices which can seem confusing at first. I’ll explain them all below, from top to bottom.

Managed by, Visible to and Publish in section

Managed by allows you to select the role of user who can edit an article. This could be as simple as Admin, Agents, or custom roles that you’ve created, such as Team Leader. If you have Zendesk Enterprise, It’s also possible to create a role such as “Article Creator” which gives these users permission to edit articles but nothing else, so they can’t accidentally interfere with your ticket processes, for example.

This option is arguably the most important of all the choices you have to make. It allows you to choose who can see the article once you publish it. Your choices are Everyone (e.g. end-users / the world wide web / search engines etc), Signed-in users (only use this if your end-users receive support by logging into Zendesk, which is a rare setup to have) and Agents and admins (this is the option to go for if you want an internal help centre, with articles created to help your agents rather than to help customer directly).

In my previous article, we talked about the structure of a Zendesk Guide. In short, every Guide article is nested in a Section and every Section is nested in a Category. This means that your Guide users can navigate to the homepage of your Guide, see the top-level categories, select the one appropriate for them, then see a list of relevant sections. Within each section, Zendesk will display the articles you’ve said belong there. This helps users navigate easily and saves the Guide home page from being clogged up with irrelevant articles.

The next option is Open for comments. Checking this box will allow those who can access the article (As set in the previous section) to add comments and questions to the article. Whilst this can be a great feature for getting feedback, unless you plan to actively manage the comments, I suggest turning it off. In my experience, this space is mostly used by spam bots trying to create backlinks to their own irrelevant (and sometimes harmful) websites.

Promote article allows you to ensure the article is shown on your Guide homepage underneath the Categories section.

Author and Owner

In this case, the Author setting informs who will show as the author when the article is read by others. Even if you write the article from your own Zendesk account, you may not want your name to show as the author. In this case, it can be sensible to set up another Zendesk agent account with the name set as your company name, so that all articles appear to be written by your company, rather than an individual that customers won’t recognise (and may try to contact by other means).

The Owner setting is typically less important but can be useful. Here you can define who should be notified if the article needs verifying. Zendesk Guide has a brilliant, optional verification process that allows admins to give particular agents permission to write articles, but then require that they are verified by the “Owner” before they can be published/amended.

This allows you, as the Zendesk administrator, to share a large part of the workload of creating a functional help centre without risking losing control of the quality of the content. Think of it like the editor of a newspaper.

Labels and Related to

Labels are keywords that you can associate with your article to influence user search results as well as Answer Bot results. Zendesk will automatically scan your copy to get an idea of what the article is about - this feature simply gives you the option to manually influence its findings when returning article results.

Related to performs a similar function to Labels but with an emphasis on grouping relevant articles together. This is particularly useful if you have the Related articles feature turned on. This displays next to every published article and shows a list of relevant articles in case the agent is in the right area but hasn’t quite found the right article just yet. Adding the same content tag to related articles will ensure that they appear together in this section.

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The final option on the article editor page allows us to use a template to give us a headstart in crafting the article. Ironically placed at the bottom of the page, it’s arguably the first option you should go to if you’re going to use a template. We’ll cover how to create an excellent, well-designed template in a future article. This will allow you to create consistent visuals within your articles and provide structure for your writers.

Saving and publishing

Found at the top of the page, this is the big go-live button! Saving an article that has not previously been published is akin to saving the article as a draft. It will not be visible to anyone other than those with permission to create and edit articles.

Clicking Publish will, unsurprisingly, not only save your article but also publish the article such that it’s visible to whomever you selected in the “Visible to” section that we covered earlier.

Selecting Schedule article opens a new pop-up window within your current tab

As you can see, this feature not only allows you to schedule a time at which you’d like the article to be published but also the opposite; you can select a time and date for the article to be unpublished.

Selecting a schedule date can be useful for use cases such as product launches, responses to upcoming announcements and more. Why wait for a product to launch only to scramble to upload supporting articles when you schedule them to go live at the exact right time?

Utilising a time and date to unpublish is incredibly helpful for use cases such as time-limited competitions, short-term promotions or other activities which you know will eventually no longer be relevant to your readers.

As we’ve seen across these two articles, creating a Zendesk article is so much more than simply coming up with some text for your customers to read. Zendesk’s suite of tools, hosted along the right-hand side of the article creation page, allow you to have full control over editorial access, as well as who can see your content, where it appears, and when it is visible.

If you’re serious about making your help centre, well, helpful, it’s well-worth spending ten minutes thinking about how you can utilise these nifty options to create an approach to help centre management that works best for you and your organisation.

Written by
Jude Kriwald

Jude Kriwald first learned to administer Zendesk in 2015 and has been helping businesses improve their customer operations as a freelance consultant since 2018. Offline, he can be found making maps, paragliding or exploring remote places.

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