Unstructured content meant limited opportunities for reuse without copying and pasting
Disconnected product and support site made for a less-than-streamlined user experience
Cross-functional collaboration proved difficult — workflows were hard to establish and manage
Omnichannel publishing allows content sharing across the product experience and support.atlassian.com
An editor-friendly interface enables rapid content changes without development
Roles, permissions, and workflows facilitate internal collaboration
“With Contentful, we can meet user needs instead of just turning out content.
When your company provides software that helps people collaborate so well that it's name-dropped regularly in business books, it would be easy to call it a day. But not for Atlassian. The Australian enterprise software company known for bug tracking, agile product management tool Jira, and team collaboration platform Confluence, is intent on the next revolution: teamwork.
“I really think reinventing teamwork could ultimately be the thing that unlocks the next level of human productivity,” shared Joe Clark, the IT product manager working on the company's Contentful implementation. “We’re getting to the point now where everything is done by teams. Getting teams to work together effectively, communicate effectively, and build a shared context of what they're trying to accomplish is consistently the hardest problem — not the technical challenges.” With Contentful, Atlassian was able to successfully arrive at that new frontier.
Adopting a platform customizable to teams — and editors
Contentful has been pivotal in supporting the teamwork revolution in the space of content management. Atlassian is using the platform to store, edit, and publish content for a growing list of external support services: help and technical documentation, FAQs, help articles, product documentation, in-product support, and resources for people considering buying Atlassian products.
Individuals from interdisciplinary teams within the company, including content designers, developers, the performance marketing team, and business sponsors, were a part of the planning and conversation when building out this content. Contentful's collaboration features helped Atlassian create, review and publish external support content, and amplify Atlassian’s own product set.
As an API-first and highly customizable platform, Contentful allowed Atlassian to capitalize on key areas of differentiation within their existing services. Atlassian used the platform's powerful rich text editor to maintain a strong integration with their stack for collaboration. One of the key benefits was the ability to effectively scale content by pairing the Atlassian Confluence-like editing experience their authors know and love with the capabilities provided by Contentful.
The publishing workflows that Atlassian was able to establish with Contentful offered added value. Contentful enables one-click publishing, which replaced the company's previously complex, multi-step processes. The result is that contributors now spend less time spent wondering who’s doing what, if they have permission to do it, and waiting for handoffs from others.
Scaling the company and content with structure
Atlassian started like a lot of tech companies: two friends with some big ideas using credit-card debt to bankroll them. While developing the software, the founding team also came up with concepts like ShipIt Days and the Atlassian Team Playbook. Their optimistic investments paid off as the company is regularly featured on “Best Places to Work” lists and is best-case scenario business books such as “Culture Fix” and “Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement.”
From a two-person startup to a NASDAQ-listed company with offices in Sydney, Bengaluru, Amsterdam, New York City, Austin, San Francisco, and Mountain View, Atlassian has grown quickly. The growth spurt came with side effects, however. It has created content silos, or what Karen Cross, Head of Content Design, likes to call “blobs of content” that are inflexible and difficult to organize across products and international markets. Scalability was at stake.
As the company acquired more products and expanded into new markets, content to help customers gain value was crucial. Atlassian also needed to support content for new platforms, experiences, and solutions. The legacy systems that grew organically in the early years limited Atlassian’s ability to solve these challenges in a scalable way. “We recognize that shapeless content is hard to do intelligent things with,” said John Collins, senior content designer at Atlassian. More structured, modular content became more flexible content. “That's a major change for us as an organization. We really recognize that as powerful.”
Building in-product support content that's next level
In the best of worlds, help exists beyond an external support website. A new in-app help experience demonstrated to the Jira team the power of reusable content. “We've long thought that the most effective place to get people help content is in the product, where they need it," said Collins.
Atlassian’s vision is to have help appear in-product with the ability to drill down into a user’s setup and configuration based on what they actually bought. Take, for example, the company’s “next-gen service desks” feature. If a user comes to an online help page on the topic, the website doesn’t know whether or not the user is allowed to create their own projects, so it has to explain that. In contrast, in-product help can already know whether the user has permission and shows more specific contextual information
Reusable content is helping Atlassian test that prediction. Amid its larger project to migrate content to the support portal, Atlassian added the Jira Software team's request to use Contentful to power in-product help to the docket.
“In three months we had content appear in-product with a widget,” shared Collins. “It was easy to implement and there are already strong indicators that the content pairing in-product is serving users,” he added.
What’s next for Contentful and Atlassian
Atlassian's internal teams will continue migrating help content to their external support site via Contentful. A couple of custom extensions in the works will also make integration with Contentful easier with a smoother experience for authors.
And, going forward, the Jira project will stand as a textbook-worthy example of two of the company’s core values: “build with heart and balance” and “play as a team.”