Wiki design: how Confluence should and must be customized

A company wiki needs an custom design. And not as a nice optional extra, but as an absolutely essential component of a successful wiki project. There are sound reasons and convincing arguments for this.

Customized corporate design = employee mobilization

The standard layout of Confluence doesn’t match the corporate design of any business. The biggest problem is that without a customized design, employees will perceive the wiki as a foreign entity in their visually familiar intranet environment, and it will be treated with distance and skepticism. Furthermore, management is “evidently” giving the message that this is not a particularly important system and that no great significance is attributed to it. Management are skimping on such a relatively small investment.

Both things are fatal to the activation of employees. By contrast, with a CD-compliant wiki, management sends a positive signal to employees, underscoring the importance of the wiki and providing a system which is familiar from the start. However, mere CD-customization – important as it is – is not enough.

A much more usable interface for Confluence

Wiki design = optimized usability

In a direct comparison between Confluence’s standard interface and the custom interfaces which //SEIBERT/MEDIA has developed for customers, it is clear how flexibly Confluence can be modified and  how much benefit results from customization.

In addition to individually customized corporate design, we essentially always make usability improvements , because Confluence in its standard layout (like every wiki software) has some functional weaknesses and issues with user friendliness.  Here are some examples of specific usability optimizations:

  • Integrating navigation to meet individual requirements
  • Incorporating a margin column or collapsible sidebar to make specific content accessible on every page
  • Optimizing the typography concept, e.g. through greater distinction between individual headline hierarchies
  • Optimizing row length by implementing a margin for easier reading
  • Removing double search boxes on the portal page

Furthermore, the standard features can be optionally selected or deselected, increasing the clarity of arrangement and improving user prompts.

Comparing the standard Confluence design (left) with a customized design

Function + design = convenient knowledge management

A wiki has a better chance of success if it’s also customized to meet the corporate requirements of interface structure and design. The standard functionalities of Confluence are many and varied but can also quickly overwhelm inexperienced users.

In our experience, employees get involved with a business wiki more readily if they see it as an important and useful work tool and the application is convenient to use. So the aim should be to implement a custom configuration, tailoring functionality and design to your individual requirements. This will result in a high degree of user acceptance, a high level of user enjoyment and  high utilization rates. This is the only way the wiki can encourage good knowledge management.

Arguments for an customized wiki design

Here’s our summary of the three arguments in favor of customizing design individually when implementing a wiki:

  • A wiki configured to match the business’s corporate design will be more trusted and appreciated by users.
  • Wiki design also means optimizing usability. Important functions can be designed to be eye-catching so that users find them with greater ease and start using them sooner.
  • The better a design meets the needs of the user, the more quickly it will be accepted.

What are your wiki requirements?

To figure out what your specific wiki or intranet requirements are, it’s worth considering the suggestions above and learning how they interact.

Do you have questions about implementing a wiki? If you’ve already implemented a wiki, do you want to expand it? Do you need help with customizing your interface and actively engaging employees? We’d be delighted to work together with you to establish some goals for your individual wiki design and find out how best to implement your requirements – for example, in a workshop . Contact us, obligation free!

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Further information

Wiki design workshops by //SEIBERT/MEDIA
Factors for the success for wikis: organization is the key
Architecture of a wiki project: elements, process, approach, rules