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7 Best Practices For Building Knowledge Base With Confluence

In the current age of Information, it almost feels as if there is too much content to process.  The problem now comes not from a lack of information, but a lack of tools to help effectively sort and search through the content.  If you don't know about knowledge base systems, you can refer to this article on knowledge base to find out more.

Confluence is regarded as one of the best tools to accomplish this task. Knowledge Management Systems like Confluence have already seen widespread adoption in fields like healthcare, due to its many benefits. Read more information on the benefits of knowledge management in healthcare. While this tool can be incredibly easy to use and learn, there are a few pitfalls.  Today, we will be sharing the seven of our confluence knowledge base best practices.

6 Tips & Tricks to Building Knowledge Base With Confluence

Building Knowledge Base With Confluence

1. Labels

One of the biggest features of Confluence is the use of labels.  You should make it a habit to tag every one of your pages and articles.  This way whenever your team is searching for content, they can browse through it by labels, rather than using the search bar.  This ensures that your customers don't miss any content because they were not able to find it.  Additionally, these labels can be used in combination to better narrow down your search results.  Labels will also help set a foundation for macros, which is something that we will discuss in-depth later on.

Something to note, however, is that you should limit your use of labels to only the categories relevant to your team or end-users.  We also recommend you use labels for active and inactive tags for articles and pages.  Your newer content should be published as "Active" and after a set period label them as "Inactive".  This allows your users to quickly understand what content is relevant and what content is dated.

2. Topics

The topics that you choose to fill your knowledge base with will have a large impact on its overall effectiveness.  You and your team will simply not have the time to create articles for every issue.  Thus it is important to prioritize the topics that you choose to include within your knowledge base.  A good place to start is with the most frequent and requested topics.

This can easily be done by labeling each issue, so you can easily sort by the questions and problems that customers contact you about the most.  This will allow your customers to find a troubleshooting article easily from within your home page.  Having knowledge base articles on the most common issues that the customers face, frees up time for your help desk staff. If you would like to learn more about how confluence can help reduce support costs, you can read about it in our blog here.

Remember to update your content regularly, as time goes or as you roll out updates.  If certain web pages or base articles become irrelevant due to a patch or an update, remember to label them as "Inactive".  Another tip to remember is search-ability.  Before you title an article, you should ask yourself if that title is what you would search for if you run into that issue.  This will allow your users to quickly and easily search for the content that is relevant to them.

3. Macros

Confluence already comes inbuilt with several macros, and additionally, add-ons can include new ones as well.  These macros are incredibly useful for making pages much more dynamic and navigable.  They can be used to add structure to an article.  This includes road maps or pie charts.  Macros can also be used in conjunction with labels, to improve your customer's ability to find the relevant content.

Using a macro can help you organize your pages by topic, or alphabetically.  Although can seem complicated, they do have a relatively shallow learning curve.  We suggest that you take the time to learn more about these extremely useful tools, as they are one of the most powerful within your proverbial tool-belt.  In Confluence, there is rarely a task that a macro cannot do!

4. Using a Template

Writing a knowledge base article can be tough sometimes, but using a template makes the process a lot easier.  Using a template allows for easier, faster, and more consistent writing.  The sections that you include in a template are going to be very impactful to your final articles, and their usability to the consumer.  To understand what sections you should include, you should understand your consumer.

The articles template should include the relevant content, structured in a format such that the customer can read through it without much confusion. Every article should include an introduction where the topic or problem being addressed is clear.  This allows the customer to check if this is the topic or issue they are interested in, and if not it allows them to quickly move on.

We also recommend that you include links to related articles, so that if the problem was similar the customer can quickly find the relevant article.  After explaining the problem, your post should include easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to fix the issue.  Following all of these steps will improve the articles greatly and you will be able to give a much better User Experience.  Using a template will also make writing content and contributing to your knowledge base much easier for your writers. If you wish to learn more about writing templates for confluence, this article includes step-by-step instructions.

5. Article Readability

Your customers will often have a lot less technical knowledge than the team of authors who writes the articles that end up in your knowledge base.  Therefore, before you publish anything, it is important to verify that the information that you present is easy to understand.  Understanding your audience is of critical importance and you must remember that approximately 50% of Americans only read at a high school level.  Your writing should be understandable and professional without being demeaning towards the reader.

One way to do this is to limit the usage of industry jargon in your knowledge base articles.  If you must use it, it is important that you define the term upon its first use.  In this case, word choice is incredibly important for proper communication.  This is important as your writing should be accessible to as wide of an audience as possible.  People who perhaps don't speak English as a first language may also be trying to understand your article, and you would be doing both of you a disservice if your article was not comprehensible.

Another way to make your content more accessible is to break it up with images.  This will physically break up the text, and make your articles much less likely to overwhelm your readers.  Being direct and concise is also of the utmost importance as the client’s time is important, so make sure that every word that you use has a purpose and reason for being there.  Using bullet points, or breaking your solutions into a step-by-step format can help immensely in this department as well.  Using these tools also help to further break up an article from a wall of text to something much more reader-friendly.

Your knowledge base homepage is at the center of your base layout.  Your primary goal with this page should be to allow your customers to find the information pertaining to them as soon as possible.  As you add more and more content to your knowledge base it will take your customers more and more time to find the article addressing their needs, regardless of how you organize or tag them.  One of the easiest ways to solve this issue would be to add a search bar.  This way your customers can easily type in the problem or issue they are facing and be able to quickly find the solution.

Another way to minimize the customer's time is to feature prominent articles on your home page.  These articles should be articles that are most frequently accessed.  This allows the customer to find the pertaining content without having to search for it.  Another use for this spot could be to proactively reduce customer frustration.  For example: If a new update doesn't support certain features without also updating drivers, you could post an article explaining the issue on your home page.  The final way to increase navigability is one that we have talked about before as well.  Once again, it is extremely important to include links to similar articles so that if customers are having a similar issue they can find the pertaining content without having to search for it again.

FAQs:

1. How do you organize a knowledge base?

Answer: One of the easiest ways to organize a knowledge base in Confluence would be to start with your labels.  If you followed the tip about tagging each article with labels, it should be relatively easy to break up your content into different components.  You can organize your content by department, issue, or even alphabetically.  One of the quickest ways to do this would be through the use of macros.  The "Content by Label" macro would be especially useful if your goal is to organize everything by section.

2. How do I build a good knowledge base in Confluence?

Answer: Creating a knowledge base can be very easy! If you followed all the best practices laid out in this article, it should be a breeze. Once again, we recommend that you first choose good topics to add to your knowledge base. You should also have a template created which will allow for quicker, easier, and more consistent writing. These articles should be comprehensible to the average person as well. You should also be using labels and macros frequently and regularly to help consumers to find the article as soon as possible. The amount of time it takes the customer to find the relevant articles should be minimized as well.

3. How do I use Confluence for Knowledge Management?

Answer: Before we start, you will want to make sure that you have the global permission "Create Space". From here you want to go to Spaces, Create Space, and choose Knowledge Base Space. This blueprint will include everything that you need to get started. It will have a template ready for your use, and will include a homepage using 2 macros we discussed earlier: "LiveSearch" and "Content by Label". When you do inevitably start adding articles and content, we recommend that you closely follow the tips that we have laid out for you here. It will be a lot harder to organize your content when you have a lot more of it.

Conclusion

In Confluence, the most important thing to remember is the user experience.  Your customers should be able to navigate through your knowledge base, without frustration.  While it can often take time to build up a knowledge base, it is important to begin formatting your pages from the very beginning.  Following the tips that we have laid out for you today will free up a lot of time for you and your team in the future.

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