Getting started with Guide Setting up

Article author
John Smith

Guide enables you to provide end users with a complete self-service support option and empowers agents to better help customers. Using Guide you can create a Help Center that includes:

  • Branded customer-facing support site
  • Knowledge base, for publishing self-service content
  • Customer portal, where customers submit tickets and, on Guide Professional and Enterprise, also manage their tickets

You can add a community to your Help center, for customer collaboration, by purchasing Gather.

Your end users can use the information in the knowledge base or turn to the community (if enabled) for answers. If they can’t find an answer, they can submit a request to an agent. Agents can use the knowledge base to help solve tickets faster.

With Guide you can manage your content and deliver it in multiple languages in Help Center. You can customize the look and feel of your Help Center and decide which features to include.

This article covers the following topics:

  • About the knowledge base structure
  • Enabling Help Center in setup mode
  • Preparing the Help Center for release
  • Activating Help Center

If you want to learn more about reducing the load on your agents by building a Help Center, check out the Self Service: Setting and Customizing Guide training course.

About the knowledge base structure

Use the knowledge base for the official content provided by your company or organization. The Help Center consists of categories, sections, and articles.


On Guide Enterprise, you can add subsections to your knowledge base to create more levels (see Adding subsections to create more levels in your Help Center).


Categories are the top-level organizing containers of the Help Center. Categories contain sections. The Help Center must have at least one category. If you have only one category in your Help Center, then the category itself is hidden to end users, and they see only the sections in your Help Center.

A category must have at least one section visible. A section will not be visible until an article is added.


Sections contain related articles. On Guide Enterprise, sections can also contain subsections. To add a section, you must have at least one category to act as its parent container. On Guide Lite and Professional, each section must be child of a category. On Guide Enterprise, a section can be a child of a category or a section.


Articles are content items such as tech notes or help topics.

You can quickly change the look and feel of the Help Center using simple WYSIWYG tools. You can easily change the way your content is organized too. If you’re on Professional or Enterprise and you want more control over the design, you can use HTML, CSS, JavaScript (see Customizing your Help Center theme).

Enabling Help Center in setup mode

The Help Center is not deployed by default. You must enable it in setup mode, prepare it for release, and then activate it.

When Help Center is in setup mode, it is hidden from end users and is visible to administrators and agents only.

If you have set up multiple brands, and want to add a Help Center for a brand other than your default brand, see Creating a Help Center for one of your brands.

To enable Help Center in setup mode

  1. Sign in to Zendesk Support as an administrator.
  2. Click the Zendesk Products icon () in the top bar, then select Guide.
  3. In the page that appears, click Build your knowledge base.

If you (or any other Guide Manager at your company) have already clicked Build your knowledge base once before, then it no longer appears in your interface. Instead, click Guide admin, where you can prepare your Help Center for release and then activate it.

Your Help Center is created using the default theme. You can customize the theme and add content while it’s in setup mode. For next steps, see Preparing your Help Center for release.

Preparing the Help Center for release

While your Help Center is in setup mode, you can prepare it for release. During this time, end users cannot view your Help Center.

These are some of the steps you can take to prepare your Help Center.

Developers can use a REST API to insert, update, and manage content in Help Center. See the Help Center API documentation. For help on getting started, see Zendesk developer docs and resources.

To prepare Help Center for release

  1. Do some planning for how your will build and launch your Help Center (see Lisa Painter’s Fine tuning: “Blueprinting” your Help Center). Be sure to check out Pinterest page of beautiful Help Centers for inspiration.

  2. Adjust the look and feel of the Help Center in setup mode.
    • Brand your Help Center by adding your product logo and your brand’s colors and web fonts (see Branding your Help Center).
    • Customize your Help Center. If you’re a web designer or a web-savvy administrator, you can make more extensive customizations by editing the page code (see Customizing your Help Center theme). Also, check out the Help Center tips from our community.
  3. Test your Help Center. Only agents and administrators can access the Help Center while it’s in setup mode. To see what your Help Center looks like to end users or anonymous users, see Previewing your Help Center.

Be sure to test in different browsers. See the list of browsers supported by Help Center.

  1. Set the display name for your Help Center.

The display name can be the same as your subdomain or different. The name appears in the footer of the standard Copenhagen theme (see Changing the name of your Help Center).

  1. Ensure that your default language is properly set for your Help Center.

It is important to set your default language before you add any articles to your Help Center, as the source locale for your articles defaults to your default Help Center language. A mismatch between the default language and the language you select for your articles could cause your content to not appear.

Your Help Center default language is initially determined by the default language setting for your account in the Support admin (see Configuring the default language for your Help Center).

  1. Add your content to the Help Center.
  • Migrate content from an existing knowledge base or community, if you want (see Migrating existing content to Help Center).

  • Create knowledge base categories and sections (see Organizing your Help Center knowledge base content in categories and sections).

  • If you migrated content from another system, you won’t need to create categories and sections, unless you want to add any.

  • Add articles (see Working with articles in the knowledge base).

  • If you’re starting from scratch, check out Best practices: Finding issues to populate your knowledge base. If you need an easy way to back up your knowledge base articles, check out the kBackups app in our community.

  • Create user segments to restrict access to content as you’d like (see Creating user segments to restrict Help Center access).

  • If you have a community, set this up and create some articles (see Getting started with Gather).

  1. (Support Professional or Enterprise and Guide Professional or Enterprise) Set up your Help Center to support multiple languages.
  • Enable languages for your Help Center (see Configuring your Help Center to support multiple languages).

  • Create localized versions of your Help Center content (see Localizing the Help Center).

Multiple languages are available if you have Support Professional or Enterprise and Guide Professional or Enterprise, either during the Guide trial or as a purchased plan type.

  1. Add any Guide Managers (see Understanding Guide roles and setting permissions).

When you are ready to go live, you can activate your Help Center.

Activating Help Center

When you’re ready, you can activate your Help Center and make it live for end users. You must be a Zendesk Support administrator to enable Help Center. Guide Managers who are not Support administrators cannot enable Help Center.

Check out Phil Hansen’s Fine Tuning: Best practices for ticket deflection for tips on how to best promote self-service during your Help Center launch.

To activate Help Center

  1. In Guide, click the Settings () icon in the sidebar.
  2. In Guide settings, click the Activate button.
  3. Click Activate again to confirm that you want to activate your Help Center.
  4. Click Enable spam filter (see Using the spam filter to prevent Help Center spam).
  5. Read the agreement, then click Enable spam filter again to agree to the terms.

Your Help Center is activated and is now visible to end users. If you need to disable your Help Center, see Disabling your Help Center.

If you are using the community, make sure that is also activated (see Getting started with Gather).

Next steps: Be sure to check out our Help Center guide for end users and also our complete list of Guide resources.

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