I spent the better part of my adult working life with the job title of technical writer (or some variation). I spent much of that time as a freelancer and contractor. To keep pace with technology, I became an inveterate tinkerer,, so I kept a large web presence beyond my LinkedIn profile and website.
It’s finally time for me to change up my personal web presence:
Being on a job hunt has a tendency to make me reflective so today I was looking for better ways to frame my Atlassian Confluence experience. I’m a technical writer with a Microsoft SharePoint background and came to using Confluence later than some other people. Oddly enough, while I find Confluence easier to use than SharePoint, some of the same adoption issues especially when it comes to creating and managing team spaces.
Here are some of my favorite tips to build a better Confluence space:
1. Take ownership of the Confluence space
I’ve long been a proponent of project teams managing their collaboration platform otherwise it collaboration too often falls somewhere near the bottom of the IT department’s priority list. Even when the project team has full control over a space, there needs to be somebody to answer questions and even learn new features to introduce to the rest of the team.
Candidates for the owner might be the project manager/lead, business analyst, or technical writer. They key to this sort of ownership is not to get in the way of the rest of the team.
2. Take the time to onboard users
Too many users have a collaboration site thrust upon them which rarely works out well especially when the space wasn’t planned out well. It’s consistent theme I’ve found in collaboration sites I’ve seen. Onboarding to a Confluence space includes:
Setup a user account with appropriate privileges
Follow up with user to ensure they can sign into the Confluence space
3. Use templates
While you can’t always expect some team members to use page templates, I commend Atlassian for making their templates easy to use. I’ve gotten users up and running on Confluence templates using just a few clicks.
Confluence ships with a selection of page templates including:
You can also create custom templates to use in your space making it possible to translate your existing Microsoft Word templates into Confluence page templates. For example, I’ve migrated software development lifecycle (SDLC) documentation templates from Word to Confluence.
4. Use Confluence Labels
A logical use of Confluence labels is another way to improve the searchability of the pages in your Confluence space. Using labels can help you organize views of your space content using macros.
5. Know your macros
I recommend that you get to know everything about Confluence macros. While you may not be in a position to develop your own macros there is a library of macros that ship with Confluence that can help you build a better space.
6. Create a blog for the space
While the blog that Confluence includes may not rival WordPress, I think the Confluence blog editor is just what teams need for creating blog posts to communicate project and team updates.
7. Watch pages
I always recommend that users click the eye on Confluence pages of interest. Confluence enables you to watch a page, blog, or all of the contents in the space and notifies you when changes and updates appear.
Atlassian Confluence seems to have a hard time living up to its potential inside some enterprises. While no collaboration platform is perfect if you learn some Confluence features and find the line between organization and free for all collaboration platforms need to hit to be useful then you and your team will build Confluence spaces that are an asset to you team and projects.
What are your favorite Confluence tips?
Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and NeuStar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.