The first thing you need to do in your endeavor to implement a wiki is to design it. This is perhaps the single most important step in the early stages of your wiki's development. Whether you perform this step before/after installing a wiki software is up to you, but you should design before you start creating pages and populating your wiki with content. When I say "design," I am referring to the structure and organization of the wiki, not the cosmetic appeal.

Here are some topics to think about and questions you should ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of the wiki?
  • How many contributors are expected to be collaborating on the wiki?
  • How often do you expect contributions to be made?
  • How much time (on average) do you expect each contributor will spend browsing and editing?
  • What categories will be derived from the wiki's overall subject matter?
  • What naming conventions will be most appropriate for articles and categories?
  • Will any articles of a certain category contain repetitive information with only details varying?
  • What will be the easiest-to-read format for the content of articles of a specific category?
  • What will be the easiest-to-edit format for the wiki code?
  • How long could the wiki be expected to be used?
  • How large could the wiki be expected to grow over the time it is expected to be used?

It should be duly noted that longevity is key when designing a wiki. If you aren't thinking about longevity when designing your wiki, you're going to stumble later on and realize that your wiki's longevity may be very short.

A wiki doesn't do things for you. Rather, it provides you with a clean, fast, and presentable means of storing information and documentation. That being said, you want to develop the wiki in such a manner that it will be easy to maintain down the road. For instance, you don't want to end up having to reorganize or rewrite loads of entire articles five months down the road. That would certainly be time wasted.

So be sure to plan ahead! Think long term – do your best to forecast the future of the wiki, even if you may doubt its fruition. Design and develop in manners that provide your wiki with longevity!

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