We're going to go there and say that most internet users have heard of the term “Wiki” before. Mostly because of Wikipedia, the open-sourced digital encyclopedia maintained by a global community.
Wikipedia was among one of the most popular web pages available, especially in its earliest years. Popular search engines like Google would often pull it for various search queries. Although the wikipedia page is often deemed unreliable due to its community-built content, it still holds a wealth of information and has had around 1 billion edits from over 27 million users.
The premise of a Wiki rings true in a business's information hub, too. Every company should have its own Wiki page that is edited by the company workforce. Maybe you already have one and are making a conscious effort to build a new page or pages; or maybe a particular person is your company's Wiki and it’s time to get that information documented.
Whatever you've got to work with, this article will show you how to create a Wiki site and widget that team members actually use.
What is a Wiki?
A wiki is a page or site that users themselves can edit and update. A wiki is a one-stop-shop knowledge center that answers the most common and pressing questions your employees may have.
It should be everyone’s responsibility to write it and keep it up to date. That’s what makes this different from a dictated company manifesto. Read this guide if you want to learn how to create your own wiki.
Who uses a Wiki?
A company Wiki page is used for two main reasons. Firstly, a Wiki page is used for employee onboarding. Implementing the company Wiki as part of a new employee's training will save your team’s time and ensure that nothing is overlooked.
A new employee should scour the company Wiki and absorb as much information as possible. By the time the new hire is ready to start working, they're in the best position to use their mind they've been hired for, unrestricted by their knowledge or experience with company tools.
Secondly, a company Wiki should be an ongoing resource for all employees. It's not a one-read type of document that after you've been through can clear from your checklist. A company Wiki should be a resource that all employees refer to if they're ever at a loss for information.
It's hard to remember all the processes and procedures a company has. Simultaneously, these processes and procedures will update as new tools and technology become available, and the company becomes more agile.
That being said, we can't rely on emails, slack messages, or other internal communication platforms to keep people updated on these constant changes. Perhaps the message will be read; perhaps it won't be.
What's worse, is when the employee needs to find that message for reference in the future and has no clue how to find it in their inbox or sort through their hundreds of online chats with colleagues.
Introducing... a company Wiki. Whenever an employee is in doubt or finds that a process is no longer working, rather than searching for a notification email or chat, they'll be able to open the Wiki. An employee can search for the information smartly and know they'll have the most up-to-date info on their screen. It puts an end to lost info.
How to create a Wiki in 9 steps
It's important to remember that a Wiki is an open-sourced piece of information. This means that it's not created by one person but by a collection of smart heads. Today, hosting services don't require you to have a ton of CSS or HTML know-how to build a Wiki, which means you can focus on content management rather than worry about building a Wiki software.
To create a wiki, you need to follow these steps:
1. Identify what needs to be in the Wiki page
2. Find the collaborators and resources
3. Host a kick-off meeting
4. Use a Wiki template
5. Delegate work and set deadlines
6. Review all work
7. Host a Wiki page focus group
8. Distribute company-wide
9. Send reminders and updates
So now that have an idea of what's to be done to create one, let's go in depth through each of the steps to creating a company Wiki that works.
Identify what needs to be in the Wiki page
Identify the Information you need. This can be tricky for one person to do, especially someone that doesn't have a good overview of all company teams and processes. This project is often best managed by an internal coordinator or office manager, someone who works closely with multiple teams and people across the business.
The Wiki project manager will need to identify the information that needs documenting; this can include:
- Onboarding information: mission, vision, values, culture & welcome message
- Tools & processes
- Passwords & access information
- Available resources for personal & professional development
- Org maps & basic employee information
- Work procedures
- Software packages
Find the collaborators and resources
Identify the people that have the information you need. If you're building your own Wiki from scratch, you should be looking for a contributor from every major team within the company to help create pages.
An individual can't cover the entire company's knowledge base. Identify who is your best resource within each team and the information they can provide you. If you think something is missing, then pull in someone who has the knowledge you need.
Host a kick-off meeting
This kick-off meeting largely determines the success of your company Wiki as a project. By introducing the project to core stakeholders, you're essentially making them responsible for the success of their areas within the Wiki knowledge base. Psychologically, this is a great way to get everyone on board with the new system, and hold influence over every department within the organization.
A kick-off meeting is also the perfect time to onboard all stakeholders to the platform you'll use to build your knowledge base. Show them how the tool works, it's capabilities, and justify why you've decided to go with Slite- ahem, the tool you choose.
Lastly, come out of this kick-off meeting with some useful meeting minutes to progress the project, identify potential risks and hurdles, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Use a Wiki template
Creating a Wiki is no easy project, and it's highly recommended that you use a template to help you succeed. There's nothing more daunting than an empty page. To help get you started, we've created a free Wiki template that you can begin to adapt to the company's needs.
Delegate work and set deadlines
After you've onboarded everyone to the tool you're using, walked them through the template, and identified contribution points, the next step is to layout the Wiki project timeline.
Set targets and be realistic with the time you give everyone. Building a company Wiki doesn't seem like a high-priority task to a lot of people, and in comparison, it isn't. However, it will save so much time on some of those more pressing tasks in the future, and that's what's important to get across.
Set realistic deadlines, team check-ins, and milestones to keep everyone on track with the project. For more on project planning, check out this guide.
Review all work
Once the work is finally in, make sure you review it first. Despite the talented minds you have in your company, not everyone is a natural writer. It can often be hard to summarize processes that people are used to doing with their eyes closed, into words.
Try to cut down the lengthier descriptions people give into essential information that needs to be delivered.
Host a Wiki page focus group
This point is so essential before you launch the Wiki company-wide. Gather a focus group of employees (different from the contributors) ranging from new employees to the dinosaurs. Ask these employees to navigate the Wiki’s existing pages.
What challenges do people come across? Where do they struggle to navigate, and how can you breadcrumb the content to match their natural search flow? What information do they think is missing, and where should that information live?
Make the most of your focus group for the 2.0 version of your own Wiki.
You only get one shot at distribution, so make it count. However you distribute company-wide information, try to do the following:
- Format your text and text boxes
- Use concise language
- Don't be afraid of video and images
- Create FAQs
- Ask key stakeholders to help
If you choose to build your company Wiki on Slite, then you'll be able to select who has access to what within the tool. Make sure your distribution reflects the information people should and will be able to access.
Send reminders and updates
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, a company Wiki is a reference point for all employees throughout their time with the business. When implementing this knowledge base, you'll need to remind people that the information they're looking for is always in the Wiki.
Don't give information when it’s requested, via email or slack for example. Tell employees where they can find the information they need within the Wiki, even if it's a longer process for them.
You’re creating a habit they need to practice and eventually adopt.
Things to remember when building a Wiki
Collaboration is key
Collaborate with those you need to. Tag people within the Wiki to clarify new processes, build together, and ensure everyone understands the new tool.
Keep it updated
A Wiki is of no use to anyone if it's out-of-date. It's also a trust-building tool, so if you break someone's trust by giving outdated information, they'll likely not return in the future.
Process live there now
Try to ban anyone from sharing knowledge outside of the platform. You've implemented a new knowledge base resource that lives outside people's heads, and employees need to practice using and relying on it.
Much like someone would say, "why don't you google it?" you need to ingrain a new response into your team members along the lines of "why don't you Wiki it?"
It should reflect your brand
Lastly, just because you're building a knowledge base doesn't mean you need to lose your brand voice or personality.
If you want employees to feel closer to your brand internally, then try to get your brand personality across in how you deliver information. From your own Wiki home page to the team members database, thread personality throughout. It will help you to build an informed and brand-loyal workforce.
The difference between a Wiki and a Blog
The main difference between a wiki and a blog is that you need to have your own web address to store the information you want to share with your team. A blog is hosted inside a website, that is usually managed by a Content Management System (like Wordpress for example) where you have to use a text editor to make changes individually. Instead, a Wiki is usually hosted in a collaborative platform (like Slite) where you can instantly see changes your team is making and you don't have to cover the cost of the CMS.
Use Slite to host your own Wiki
Slite can host a Wiki that’s shareable, adaptable, and totally cloud-based. You’ll be able to control who sees what and collaborate seamlessly with contributors within the platform. Create your own Wiki that’s easy to navigate and as robust as your entire company.