"Sorry, what was the name of that page again? 🧐"
Anyone using Confluence has probably heard or asked this question at one point or another. For as good as the Confluence search is at helping you find the right content at the right time, the search functionality isn't fully effective when pages are poorly-named or if the Confluence space structure is messy.
This article dives into some best practices you and your team can employ to ensure your Confluence pages and spaces are set up to be found quickly and navigated in the right way, including some tips and examples of how our team at K15t applies these practices in our Confluence instance.
Opt for Keyword-Friendly Page Titles
When naming a Confluence page, ask yourself: "How would I or my teammate search for this content in Confluence?" and use those assumptions to guide your title decision. Keywords are especially important to consider as they help Confluence determine how relevant the page is to the search criteria.
Before settling on a page name, run a preliminary search of your keywords in your Confluence instance to ensure that the related content in the search results aligns with how you want your content to be found and perceived.
There are few things more frustrating than spending time reading a Confluence page that you discover is outdated or no longer relevant. Adding a timestamp to your Confluence page title can help readers understand how relevant the page content is. Timestamps also help you avoid that pesky problem of not being able to duplicate your page titles in the same space!
Of course, this technique should only be applied for time-bound content, for example: specific projects or campaigns that run for a month or quarter. Here at K15t, we use timestamps in our page titles to help differentiate a number of our planning pages. Some examples include:
- Weekly team updates (YYYY-MM-DD, Weekly Update)
- Projects or marketing campaigns (YYMM, Feature Release Announcement)
- Planning pages for recurring meetings or events (YYMM, Atlassian Summit)
- Quarterly product or team roadmaps (YYMM, Journey to the Cloud Roadmap)
We find the YYMM structure to work quite well throughout K15t, but perhaps your team has a structure that fits better. What's important is that your organization find and agree on a consistent structure so that everyone understands how to apply the timestamp and navigate these types of pages.
When time-bound pages are finished and no longer relevant, it's time to organize or archive them.
One option is to initially move them to an _Archive or _Past Projects parent page so they're still searchable and available in the space, but don't clutter the page tree.
But when the pages are outdated or irrelevant, it's time to move them to an archive space that won't be picked up by the search. This means they're still within reach but you can be sure your spaces and search results will be clean.
Use and Reuse Page Hierarchies
Most teams make use of Confluence page hierarchies to replicate the kind of folder-structure you might find in other content management systems. Make sure your team is aware of the purpose of parent and child pages and how to use them to group similar content.
For example, commonly created or repetitive pages like meeting notes or your team's bi-weekly retrospective meetings should be nested under a single parent page.
If there's a page hierarchy that works well for your team, try to replicate the structure for other topics too. This creates consistency in your space and supports users as they navigate through the page tree. Over time, this enforces expectations about where and how to find content and helps your team feel confident as they navigate your instance.
Prefixes in Hierarchies
Whenever possible, use short and unique page titles. This is especially important in deeper page hierarchies where pages are nested at multiple levels in the page tree and the page titles start to get cut off. In these scenarios, prefixes can help keep your page title short, unique and still informative.
Just like timestamps, your organization should agree on a prefix structure that can be widely understood in context. This could be abbreviating a product or project name, or coming up with acronyms that can be easily understood by the team. Avoid technical jargon whenever possible.
Here are some of the ways we employ prefixes in our page titles at K15t:
- Each of our apps has a 3-4 letter abbreviation which is known company-wide (VPRT for Scroll Viewport, PDF for Scroll PDF Exporter)
- Recurring events or meetings have common prefixes (Weekly Update is abbreviated to WUP)
- Larger projects receive a unique prefix that is spelled out on the parent page (Documentation Style Guide is then abbreviated to DSG in the child pages)
Keep It Clean
Maintaining a great Confluence system requires continuous effort from the team. Set aside time to review the content in your space, delete or archive obsolete content, and move pages around to maintain the structure you want. If you’re a site admin, set up rituals around maintaining your space.
At K15t, we promote a 'Space Gardener' in each team. This individual is responsible for enforcing space structures and page naming conventions, checking that content is up-to-date and archiving pages when they become irrelevant.
If you want to dive deeper into this topic, read Atlassian's recommendations: How to weather the storm of a wild content management system.