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Common Confluence Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Confluence mistakes and how to avoid them

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Confluence is a powerful tool when it comes to collaboration and knowledge sharing. It is equipped with a variety of both native and third party features that can make life easier for teams of all sizes and functions. However, sometimes It’s not about the software itself but rather how effectively you use it to your advantage. In this article, we will explore the common Confluence mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Neglecting planning and structure

Let’s create Confluence spaces for anything and everything… or maybe start by creating a space and then see where to go from there. This is perhaps the number one Confluence mistake: Lack of planning. And it is not hard to see why you shouldn’t be doing this. Starting Confluence spaces without proper planning can lead to confusing and disorganized spaces. Users might not be able to navigate their teams spaces, access information or contribute effectively.

  • What you should do instead

Confluence is based on the notions of spaces and pages. Your ability to create a clear structure and facilitate navigation is the difference between a well organized Confluence site and one nobody understands. 

First, start by creating a Confluence space. Here you need to decide the purpose of each space to avoid creating too many. As a general rule of thumb, simply create spaces for teams, departments, and hubs (documentation, ideation, onboarding, etc).

Once your spaces are created, then make sure to structure them  in a way that mirrors the team’s processes. Here, you can rely on Confluence templates that are tailor made for a variety of use cases. They come with a default hierarchy of main and children pages that you can edit, duplicate or remove. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and can easily navigate their Confluence space.

Mistake #2: Long & overloaded Confluence pages

We have all fallen into the trap of creating one holistic page where we try to put everything and make life easier for our teams. Despite our good intentions, this is extremely counterproductive. Pages with too much content and too little structure become overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Users may lose interest halfway through or miss important information buried within the page.

  • What you should do instead

How long should a Confluence page be? It depends on how long your readers’ patience is, I guess. But generally, if you are already in the Heading 4 and beyond territory, then it is time to think of ways to turn your overloaded page into smaller chunks or maybe even other pages. 

The first option includes the use of a table of content, sections, clear headings, and many other formatting options. They might help in improving navigation, but yet the page is still long. This is where you turn to children pages. If your intention is to create an all-encompassing page, simply make it the main one within your space hierarchy. Then, include links to specific pages using the Child Display macro. This way your page remains clear and concise while referring to important information within other pages.

Mistake #3: Ignoring labels & content categories

When creating Confluence pages especially at the start, we often overlook the importance of tags and statutes. This might be the result of us thinking that the page title is enough for people to find the page. It is not in most cases. If content is not well-tagged and categorized, users may struggle to find the information they need through search.

  • What you should do instead

Start by establishing and communicating clear labels to organize content. Generally, the labels should be specific and consistent and act as a reflection of your confluence spaces. Then encourage your teams to tag their Confluence pages upon creation with the appropriate labels. This way content is easily accessible and searchable. 

You can take this a step further by associating your Confluence pages with specific statutes. You can use Content Status for Confluence to create different content statutes such as Draft, In Progress and done. Then, your users can filter and quickly access their pages within the unified content status dashboard.

Mistake #4: Too much (or too little) access restrictions

When working with Confluence spaces and pages, users often tend to overly grant access, overly restrict access or completely overlook permissions. Incorrect permissions can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive information or hinder collaboration due to overly restrictive settings.

  • What you should do instead

The best approach here is to prioritize collaboration and open participation. Leave content open to your team members, allowing them to explore and navigate their space in both edit or view mode, or view-only. With this being said though, you will still have sensitive coàntent that should not be open to everyone. This is where you can apply restrictions and role-based permissions. 

Mistake #5: Overlooking onboarding & training

As easy as it might seem, Confluence still requires some sort of onboarding and training. The simple and intuitive nature of Confluence always drives teams to overlook the initial onboarding phase and head first into adoption, which is obviously a mistake. Neglecting  proper onboarding and training especially for new users can lead to confusion, reduced productivity, and the ineffective use of Confluence.

  • What you should do instead

To start, make sure your new users are familiar with the tool itself. For this, Atlassian provides detailed documentation and video tutorials which your teams can leverage to get started. Then, make sure your teams are familiar with the way your company intends to use Confluence. 

Create an onboarding hub where you can share tips and best practices. Take this a step further by creating a dedicated FAQ for each space where your teams can find frequently asked questions and answers.

Mistake #6: Not collecting user feedback

Confluence can be tailored and customized to fit the needs of a variety of teams and use cases. However, more often than not, we see businesses buy Confluence and implement it as is without paying any attention to user preferences. Failing to consider user feedback prevents you from understanding user needs and addressing pain points, resulting in low engagement rates and overall productivity.

  • What you should do instead

Your users are the backbone of your Confluence site and they should be actively involved in shaping it. Before implementing Confluence, make sure to collect data regarding your users’ experiences with any old tools and what they look for in Confluence. This will ensure you get your Confluence site off to a good start. 

Then, once you have guaranteed the initial adoption, use Confluence as the main channel to collect timely user feedback. Surveys and forms are a good place to start collecting quantitative data. You can take this a step further by using dedicated discussion forums, where your teams can share their experiences and suggest any new changes.

Confluence is just great for everything related to collaboration, communication, knowledge management and more. Yet it is not about the tool itself, but rather how you use it. In this article we have covered some of the common Confluence mistakes. And that is only a fraction! The key to get the most out of Confluence is to recognize your mistakes and work jointly with your teams to create a tailored (and hopefully a great experience).

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Common Confluence Mistakes and How to Avoid Them