As a Confluence admin, you know that content organization, user adoption, and instance maintenance are top-of-mind priorities.
According to an Economist Intelligence Unit report, ease of access to the information required to get work done is the biggest contributor to employee engagement and productivity.
However, as content grows, it gets significantly harder to maintain its organization. It’s even worse if you have no content structure in the first place. Users then struggle to navigate the instance, find information and contribute their own content.
After a while, Confluence can be seen as a hurdle to information instead of a gateway; and down goes your user adoption rate.
So, how can you ensure that your users can easily access information on Confluence? How can you deliver a positive and highly navigable experience?
You leverage metadata.
Metadata is an essential component of any content management system. It gives context to all your data and enables you to efficiently work with the information you have.
Metadata is used to describe and categorize content, as well as manage objects through a set of fields (usually predefined to maintain consistency) and values. Proper metadata application can improve content searchability, accessibility, distribution, and life-cycle management.
Businesses that prioritize metadata in content management can unlock the full value of their data. It is the key to transforming your content into business assets.
For Confluence, one of the most effective metadata management tools in the Atlassian marketplace is the Metadata for Confluence app. The rest of this article will guide you through three simple steps to creating a Confluence your users will love!
Step #1: Structure Spaces for Quick Documentation
If you’re starting from scratch, plan out how you want to categorize your content – this will be the basis for your spaces. Next, assign metadata to the space to give it a proper structure and improve its functionality.
You can assign metadata globally (to all the spaces) or to a single space. But before that, you need to create a metadata field first – a structural form of metadata that gives a page an information structure.
Create a Metadata Field
Let’s say you have created a product portfolio space, select “Space tools” on the bottom left; then, click “Metadata.” You will now see the following overview:
Click “Add Metadata Field” on the right to go to the configuration screen for metadata fields. Enter a title, choose a field type and enter a description for the field. The title is mandatory.
For a product portfolio space, consider adding metadata fields like product name, product owner, software architect, and launch date. Once you have finalized your metadata fields, they become a metadata set. This is how you can maintain information structure for each product documentation page in the space.
Do the same for other spaces and you no longer have to worry about your Confluence being a mess!
You can also assign a metadata set to a particular page template or simply create new page templates for new content categories and add metadata sets to them. Once this is done, you can quickly create new documentation simply by filling up the metadata fields with the relevant values.
Step #2: Enrich Content with Context for Better Navigation
If you have a lot of content but your users don’t know where to go to get the information they need, then you have a Confluence navigation problem.
Let’s say a new sales representative in your company needs information for a specific product. They go into the wiki and find spaces with little to no content insight.
How can they ever find the information that they need? How will they know where to go? Even if they use the search bar, what keyword will they use?
Using the app, you can enrich your content with context to significantly improve the experiences of your users. In this case, creating a product directory for the space homepage helps.
The directory needs to contain all the relevant information your users may need about the company products. To do so, first add a metadata set to each product page. It is advisable that product pages of the same category with the same metadata set are grouped together to help with information hierarchy.
Then, you can populate all the information across those pages through additional macros, filtered by the metadata values. To create an overview like you see below, use the Metadata Overview macro and your product directory page is ready to go!
Even without a directory, users will still have context to each page when you assign a metadata set to it. Hovering over the Metadata icon at the top of a page will reveal all the key information that’s relevant to the content.
Step #3: Deliver Accurate Search Results for Increased Productivity
Confluence search hasn’t been the most celebrated feature of the platform – especially when you have a vast instance. The Atlassian Community platform can attest to this.
Users can’t seem to find what they’re looking for as quickly as they need, and this drags down productivity. According to Forbes, knowledge workers still spend too much time searching for information instead of analyzing it.
On Confluence, it can be a struggle to deliver accurate results for a specific word search. This is mainly because content is not supported with structured metadata. Labels won’t help either, as they are often inconsistent.
Here’s how you can use the app to improve searchability of content:
- Create and assign a set of metadata fields that are critical to search enquiries and relevant to the content category;
- Use fields like vendor, technology, and upcoming releases to address users’ search intent and help make content search-friendly;
- Make sure that each field has a value so that the metadata set is complete.
Easy as ABC!
Step #4: Perform Regular Wiki Gardening
Once you’ve followed the previous steps and made Confluence much easier to use, your users may then focus more on bulking up the wiki with new content. This is when “wiki gardening” comes into the picture.
You have to regularly review the content across your wiki to make sure that information is up-to-date and older content remains relevant. There are two easy steps to the process:
- Address label inconsistencies and remove typos effectively from older content using the global metadata edit feature. This will resolve the issue with dated content not being searchable;
- Maintain relevance of dated content with metadata fields that are topic-specific. For example, metadata fields like software requirement, data center compatibility, and contact person can help improve searchability of product tutorial pages.
It’s also important to get space administrators to maintain the best practices with metadata management and garden their respective spaces every now and then to make sure that all deposited information is accurate.
Shaping the Experience of Your Users
Admins have always struggled with metadata management on Confluence – or more accurately, the lack of it. Manually adding metadata to individual spaces and pages is simply inefficient and a hassle. Even if you adopt the best practices when using Confluence labels, you can’t avoid metadata errors caused by free-text data entry.
Metadata for Confluence eliminates manual data entries, enables more systematic space management, and helps maintain structure across your instance – no matter how vast your Confluence is. A metadata management tool is the only thing standing between you and a robust wiki that your users will love using– try it for free, now.