wikiHow was born out of the idea that reliable, helpful how-to knowledge should be accessible to anyone, anywhere. Jack Herrick, wikiHow’s founder, bought the online how-to guide called eHow in the early 2000’s. He soon found eHow’s content creation model to be pretty limited.
A fan of Wikipedia, Jack saw potential for collaborative knowledge sharing through a wiki-based platform. He launched wikiHow on January 15, 2005, and over the years, began engaging with creative editors and a community of volunteer contributors to grow wikiHow into the trusted knowledge resource that it is today.
wikiHow’s team is small but mighty — with less than 30 employees, they manage sites in 18 languages and help more than 150 million people globally each month. In fact, their tiny yet successful team was recently named a 2019 Forbes Small Giant.
Secret sauce to success — community of eager knowledge-sharers
According to Elizabeth Douglas, wikiHow’s CEO, wikiHow’s success lies in its community and its users — much like Wikipedia’s. All the knowledge-sharing wouldn’t be possible without people’s willingness to share their know-how on any topic imaginable.
“Nowhere else on the internet can you really figure out how to meditate, have your first kiss, and prepare for a job interview, all in one place. What makes wikiHow so unique is that we are one of the only communities on the web that offers such a welcoming space for sharing these human experiences, while also being able to offer expert-reviewed how-to guides on health, education, hobbies, business, tech, and more.”
Staying true to their mission — helping everyone on the planet learn how to do anything — has been a guiding factor in their success.
How to Boil a Hot Dog? And other learnings
“When we began making videos, we were focusing on step-by-step videos to supplement each step of our how-to articles. In late 2013, we posted our first YouTube video, How to Boil a Hot Dog as an experiment: could we use the content we were creating for the website as a helpful resource on YouTube? Because our mission is so focused on helping people learn, we began investing in creating more video content and sharing it on more platforms to expand our reach. YouTube is a perfect place to share that great content” Head of Marketing, Allyson Edwards says.
The role of video on wikiHow has evolved over the years. wikiHow tries to be cognizant of different learning styles and the fact that some tasks are much easier to learn through video, while others are more digestible in wikiHow’s classic step-by-step article form. “Our animation styles have evolved throughout the years, but we’re always focused on the central mission of helping a user understand how to complete whatever task they’re working through, whether that’s through step by step videos or articles,” Elizabeth says.
What are the most popular topics on wikiHow – videos or articles?
“It’s very dependent on the time of year! Different seasons, holidays, and events can dictate what the most popular article on wikiHow is on any given day. For example, How to Get Rid of a Hangover spikes in popularity every year on January 1st, while How to React when You do not Receive a Gift for Valentine's Day gets quite popular around February 14.”
The most popular articles tend to cover topics that are close to what we call universal human experiences. Most of us have, at some point of our lives, probably wondered how to fall asleep, how to lose weight, or how to kiss. It happens to the best of us. Fun fact: “How to Kiss” has been visited almost 30 million times.
What’s the best thing about making how-to videos? What’s the most challenging part?
“The most fun part of making how-to videos is experimenting and surprising each other with unique ideas to make our videos more engaging and innovative. On the flipside, it can be challenging to think about how to comprehensively teach someone how to do something, while still holding their attention and interest. We also work with experts in many of our videos. From dog trainers to makeup artists, sleep specialists to dating coaches — the broad range of experts wikiHow works with is truly inspiring and never boring. It’s incredible to see the central thread of wanting to help people learn come to life on the screen in different ways, no matter if we’re making slime or talking about how to build a healthy relationship,” Director of Creative Operations, Bridget Connolly says.
Let’s talk about your tiny, yet mighty team. What are your favorite team activities?
“On warm afternoons, you can find our team hanging out in a lovely organic garden behind our office or jogging in a pack through the parks of Palo Alto. We love volunteering at local food banks, especially around the holidays. We also love to try new things together to build our relationship as a team, from escape rooms to Segway tours through San Francisco.”