10 Basic Questions You Need to Ask When Choosing a Wiki

Dec 07 2015

With dozens of easy to use and affordable wiki solutions, many companies opt for wikis to store procedures and best practices. This post explores the key factors you should be looking at when choosing the best wiki for your business.

Wikis bring many benefits to organizations. To name a few:

  • They help preserve critical knowledge
  • Wikis speed up onboarding and the training of new employees
  • They help your customer service team provide timely problem resolution, resulting in increased customer satisfaction
  • Teams become less reliant on email. Independent research by Atos Origin highlighted that the average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal emails which add no value to the business. 
  • Easy access to data: either you’re working from a desktop or a mobile device, all you need is a connection to the internet
  • No more out of date locally stored documents and the end of the sticky note tyranny. As soon as documents are updated on the wiki, everyone enjoys access to fresh information, while preserving access to old versions thanks to built in version control.

Wikis can be open source or commercial, ranging from basic features to enterprise full-fledged solutions. So what are the top factors you should be looking at when choosing the best wiki for your company?
You can start by thinking about how your wiki will be used and ask a few basic questions:

  1. Are you looking to open the wiki to the public or will you be using it internally? Will some sections be restricted to a specific group of people? 
  2. Should the wiki be hosted or installed on premise? Will you be needing commercial support to set it up and get started?
  3. Does the wiki have a low entry barrier? The new system should make it easy to add new data, but  also to import your existing information. A great wiki will provide options for data migration.
  4. What is your expected user growth? Many wiki systems start cheap, but they gradually become expensive based on the growing number of users.
  5. Will the wiki scale? If you anticipate growth you should be thinking about multi-tenancy and clustering.
  6. Is there an easy way to transition to a competitor’s product or service? The best way to avoid vendor lock-in is to choose your wiki wisely in the first place and avoid substantial switching costs or staying with a provider you’re not satisfied with.
  7. Is the wiki enterprise ready? Enterprise wikis go beyond the basic wiki capabilities and offer LDAP integration, Office Import, extensions, extra security etc. Great enterprise wikis offer wizards that make it easy for non-tech savvy users to build basic apps that meet their business needs. 
  8. Does the wiki have a good WYSIWYG editor and simple syntax? Basic users will need a simple, yet effective tool to update content. A WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editor will make it very easy for non-tech savvy users to contribute. More advanced users may prefer to use the wiki markup language.
  9. Do you need localization and does the wiki support it? If your wiki will be primarily used by non-English speakers, localization is essential. 
  10. Is it easy to find the right information? While many wikis provide easy ways to create knowledge, keeping content organized can be especially challenging. You will want to avoid duplicating content or having pages that are not up to date. Most importantly, you will need timely access to the relevant data. Next generation wikis allow users to structure, filter and find data very easily through advanced search, custom apps, dynamic tables, nested spaces, tree navigation, tags, etc.

Once you have the basic needs written down, Wiki Matrix will help you find the best wikis that match your specific requirements. Finally, it’s good to remember wikis will not magically stay relevant. It’s important that once you have decided on a solution and deployed it, you regularly feed it high quality, relevant information. Like gardens, wikis can blossom to bring amazing benefits, but will not flourish to their full potential without the proper care. When done right, an enterprise wiki will quickly become the go to place for employees whenever they have questions or need more information on a topic.