When managing something as complex as an organization’s internal knowledge base, effectively linking related pages and content is crucial for many reasons. Links make it easier for new employees to find what they need to hit the ground running, helps Confluence’s search algorithm, and make general content maintenance easier.
The hard truth is that the majority of employees building content come from flat documentation places like Microsoft Word, not from web page building environments. Outcome? Too few authors think about adding links between pages. But by using Glossary apps, authors can avoid having to think and link content while still achieving the same effect, helping readers to find related material.
Let’s face it – creating links between pages takes effort. Links in the content aren’t hard, but they can be tedious to add. Links can even become counterproductive when the output is part of a content pipeline that downstream becomes for a PDF or other off-site purpose.
Glossary apps overlay the links for you. They spot a matching page name and display an implied link. It’s better than asking authors to insert links – not least because the author learns while writing about related content articles, and because articles added later are automatically linked up to all documents that mention them. Well-placed links aid discovery. Navigating to related articles can tell you which authors in your company are worthy of a conversation. Now you have a potential training opportunity and the opportunity to trade knowledge. This interdependency sparks further community. In short, glossaries help by showing the implied links that people don’t want to write.
There are several fast-growing glossary apps that help us tackle this problem and one that we highly recommend. Our favourite is “Glossary – Terminology Manager” from W Knowledge. It doesn’t create a silo of terms defined outside of the wiki; it instead allows certain wiki pages themselves to create the definitions. The content (or excerpt) of the page then shows up when the reader hovers the cursor over that content.
We have provided feedback to W Knowledge which was quickly incorporated – notably adding bulk re-index, and adding “show extract” as opposed to the whole content of the page, which stops the pop-up from being too intrusive. They have created a top-class glossary app which has really helped us and can help you as well. We believe that using a glossary app in Confluence can enhance discovery of existing content, and enhanced convergence and common understanding.
Bonus: drive your glossary from Jira
We couple our use of Glossary – Terminology Manager with another app: AutoPage – Automated Page Creation from Seibert Media. This favourite automatically creates and maintains pages in Confluence from issue content defined in Jira. We track a lot of concepts in Jira, for example, “ITIL 4” has an issue for a tracked methodology. Autopage is important to us because framework issues have various fields that are more easily modelled in Jira. We want any field value to be searchable from Confluence, so a regular embedded link doesn’t cut it.
With Autopage, those framework issue fields get expanded onto tables on Confluence pages.
If your organization is struggling with too little or excessive linking in Confluence, save yourself the headache and see how much the effective use of glossary apps can help you.
If you have any questions about this topic or anything relating to Confluence, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help!