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"Now what?" A DIY guide for new wiki space admins

As I got to know my new lab at work and its wiki space, I made several usability tweaks to help users (and myself). Then I helped a second lab with their wiki space. And another. And then another.

I now had a standard “list” of usability tweaks, which took about an hour to implement. Not bad, but I couldn’t do this for everyone’s space! I decided to create a self-service resource for wiki admins, taking a cue from a prior role on a small team in a big company, as I wrote about in A wiki “hierarchy of needs”: Support on a sliding scale.

The new page, titled “So you've got a new wiki. Now what?” isn’t exciting visually, but it breaks up the to-dos into manageable-looking chunks and sets a few priorities. I add to it over time as I write up new instructions on how to do something.

now_what_screenshot.png

The tweaks, tasks and priorities in my list are based on user feedback, best practices, and examples set by different labs. For example, search is a big deal, so I’ve made several changes to make search more accessible and have built out some secondary navigation to help users get around. Your team’s, lab’s or company’s values and priorities may be different. Here are the sections in my Now what? list.

Access and About

This section is a reminder to use user group capabilities to manage permissions, and to set a space description so everyone knows what the space is about.

First Content

Contains some suggestions on how to start structuring a page tree and list wiki contacts.

Document it!

A reminder to start a wiki documentation page to record major changes and decisions about the space – including who set it up and why. There’s a link to a sample documentation page which includes sections for metrics, functionality, customization, makeovers or migrations or refreshes, permissions, and an origin story: how did the lab/space get its name? (Trust me, this will be very important to future generations!)

Join wiki communities of practice

Includes links to groups or distribution lists to join, including of course the Atlassian Community!

Help users find things

Includes links to help pages on how to add a search box to the sidebar; how to add a search box in the upper corner of a page (as I described in Thank you, Bryan: Search and help links on every page via page include); how to add a “You are here” link to the footer (as seen in Creating a custom breadcrumb trail using Reporting); how to add help links to the footer; and how to use CSS to hide an annoying page element.

Stay on top of things

Suggestions here include watching spaces and pages and calendaring out maintenance tasks such as archiving pages.

Custom page templates

Encourages space admins to set up custom page templates to help users easily create pages they need to publish often, but aren’t included in the standard Confluence templates, such as event replays, product info pages, UX workflows, and testing plans (with links to some example pages).

Engage users

This is the fun part. This section suggests adding recent changes, comments, blog posts and featured pages to the home page. Other things to encourage user participation include adding a list of top contributors, a heatmap of popular labels, and displaying labels at the top of the page instead of at the bottom.

Metrics

Not yet built out, this section recommends defining success metrics for the space and building a wiki space dashboard (as seen in DIY metrics for a wiki space dashboard).

Have some fun!

When someone asks for help setting up a wiki space, my first question is “What’s your favorite color?” It’s an easy way to personalize a space through the color scheme and a little custom CSS. I listed directions on how to add a site icon too.

 

The bottom of the page includes some estimations of how much time specific tweaks may take to make, so that admins can decide where to start.

What’s next for “Now what?”

I’m still adding instructions for various tasks. I recently created a page to help me track which spaces have had which improvements made, which helped me identify which spaces still needed some help. I encourage our wiki system admins to share the link to the Now what? page when they create a new space for someone, and I sometimes reach out to new space admins myself.

It would be great to have the ability to set up a nicely tweaked space as a “space template,” although that is not an option at this time. But a space could certainly be set up as an example, with links on how to make the same improvements.

If your team has some standard improvements, templates or tweaks that are made to every space, I’m interested in knowing what they are. I am always looking to improve our end user experience.

2 comments

Thanks for sharing!

Like Michelle Rau likes this

This is great, thank you!

Like Michelle Rau likes this

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