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What is Confluence? The complete guide for beginners
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What is Confluence? The complete guide for beginners

A headshot of Holly Aspinall
Holly Aspinall
8th February, 2024
A browser window with a colourful, stylised Confluence space and sidebar
A headshot of Holly Aspinall
Holly Aspinall
8th February, 2024
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What is Confluence?
How does Confluence work?
Key features
Pricing
Use cases
Is Confluence right for me?

If you’ve ever wondered “What is Confluence?”, we’re here to talk you through the basics. Learn about its features, costs, if it’s right for you, and more.

What your team does with its time is important. When you're wasting time on unnecessary tasks, clearing miscommunication, and navigating red tape, employees can't perform at their best.

While collaboration tools can add to the clutter, the best ones bring your team together. Confluence is one of these rare gems. With Confluence, you can boost communication and get your team running at peak performance.

What is Confluence?

Confluence is a digital workspace created by Atlassian. Teams are able to create, organise, and collaborate on various types of content, including documents, meeting notes, project plans, and more. At its heart, Confluence enables teams to collaborate and share knowledge, eliminating the need for scattered documents and email threads.
A Confluence space showing a knowledge base homepage and various links to other content
Confluence is a digital platform designed to help teams collaborate and share knowledge
Confluence comes in two versions: Cloud and Data Center. Confluence Cloud is hosted on Atlassian’s own servers, with built-in security and minimal maintenance for a company. Conversely, Confluence Data Center is hosted on a company’s own servers. While the onus of running and maintaining Confluence is on the company itself, it also provides a higher level of control.

How does Confluence work?

Every Confluence instance - a dedicated Confluence account assigned to one specific URL - is arranged in a hierarchical way. Every instance is made up of spaces, with content living inside each dedicated space.

Spaces:

Confluence spaces act as containers for related Confluence content. For example, you might have a Confluence space for a certain project, one department, or even an external, customer-facing knowledge base.
A Confluence space with cards showing all the pages within that space
This Confluence space houses all the content relevant to an IT team

Content:

Confluence content is the files and information that lives inside a Confluence space. These are the building blocks of Confluence. There are three types of content - pages, whiteboards, and databases.

Pages
Confluence pages are digital documents that support text, images, tables, and other media to record ideas and information. Pages can be used for various purposes, such as project documentation, meeting notes, team updates, or knowledge sharing. They're highly versatile and customizable, allowing teams to structure information in a way that suits their needs best.
A Confluence page showing installation information and a purple textbox for minimum software requirements
Confluence pages are documents used to record information
Whiteboards
Confluence whiteboards differ from pages because they don't have a ‘publish’ function, meaning the page content is never fixed. This difference makes whiteboards perfect for brainstorming and sharing ideas. Users can drag sticky notes and shapes onto the canvas and share in real time with no limits. From workflows and elevator pitches to gap analysis, whiteboards are a great way for remote or distributed teams to share ideas, streamline communication, and capture valuable insights all in one place.
A Confluence whiteboard showing a priority matrix populated with sticky notes
Confluence Whiteboards are a great way to quickly brainstorm ideas
Databases
Confluence databases are the newest type of content in Confluence. They allow users to store structured data within Confluence, such as customer details, project deliverables, or software bugs. It’s possible to sync multiple databases to keep details instantly up-to-date and customise how information is displayed.
A Confluence database showing a list of potential customers and their details
Confluence databases are great for recording data in a structured way

Key features of Confluence

Confluence is loaded with features designed to help users collaborate and boost their productivity. Here are some of the biggest ones:


Real-time editing:

Also known as live editing, real-time editing lets teams work collaboratively on Confluence content, saving it continually as changes are made. This gives each team member visibility of what's been contributed and helps to stop duplicated work.

Permissions:

Manage and control what users can and can’t do on a page, space, or in the entire Confluence instance from the administrator console, helping you to maintain content without unwanted interference.

Page notifications:

Users can opt to “watch” a page, which will send them a notification when new pages changes are published. This makes it easier for team members to keep up-to-date with the latest company and project information.

Templates:

Confluence makes it easy to get set up quicker with a range of templates. Simply create your new content or space and select the template to hit the ground running. Here are just a few templates you can choose from:
  • Space templates: Project management space, documentation, knowledge base, legal team space, software project, marketing team space

  • Page templates: Employee handbook, blog post, meeting notes, how-to article, team homepage, marketing campaign, project poster

  • Whiteboard templates: Elevator pitch, disruptive brainstorm, team formation guide, swimlanes, kanban board, timeline, kanban board

Confluence macros

Confluence uses tools called macros to add extra functionality to the page. Confluence macros can be built-in, but it’s also possible to download third-party macros from the Atlassian marketplace.

Examples of built-in macros:
  • Info Panel: Highlight text in Confluence with a coloured panel and optional an emoji
  • Iframe: Display a webpage within a Confluence page
  • Labels list: Show a list of all the labels in use within that Confluence space
  • Divider: A horizontal line that separates content on the page

Third-party apps are a great way to add extra functionality to Confluence and help you customise Confluence to your organisational needs. For example, Content Formatting Macros for Confluence adds a toolkit of extra macros to structure and style your pages.


Confluence integrations

Confluence offers extensive integration capabilities, allowing seamless collaboration with a wide range of tools and platforms.

Here are some example integrations:
  • Jira: Connect Confluence with Jira to link project documentation with tasks, issues, and sprints, providing a comprehensive view of project progress.
  • Trello: Seamlessly embed Trello boards into Confluence pages to keep project plans and task lists organized and accessible.
  • Slack: Share Confluence pages and updates directly within Slack channels, fostering real-time communication and collaboration.
  • Google Workspace: Integrate Confluence with Google Drive and Calendar to streamline document collaboration and scheduling processes.

How much does Confluence cost?

The cost of Confluence differs depending on whether you’re using Confluence Cloud or Confluence Data Center. All prices shown below are in USD.

Confluence Cloud pricing

There are four pricing tiers for Confluence Cloud, each with different costs and features.

Free
The free tier is available for teams of up to 10. This includes up to 2 GB file storage, unlimited spaces, and the ability to use apps and integrations.


Standard:
Confluence’s standard tier supports up to 50,000 users. It includes everything in Free tier, plus 250 GB file storage, user permissions, and business support.
Pricing starts at $2.98 per user/month for 10,000 users.


Premium:
As well as everything included in Standard, the Premium tier includes AI integration, unlimited file storage, user analytics, 24/7 support, 99.9% guaranteed uptime, and more.
Pricing starts at $5.50 per user/month for 10,000 users.


Enterprise:
The ultimate package for enterprise-level businesses, this tier includes everything plus 24/7 enterprise support, enhanced security, and the ability to support up to 150 Confluence instances.
Pricing is billed annually at $8.26 per user/month for 10,000 users.

Compare which tier is right for you on the Atlassian website.

Confluence Data Center pricing

There aren’t any tiers in Confluence Data Center, but the pricing does vary depending on the number of users.

Based on 10,000 users, Confluence Data Center costs $230,000 per year. Bear in mind that this doesn't account for extra costs your organisation incurs, such as maintenance and server costs.

What can you use Confluence for?

Confluence’s versatility makes it perfect for collaborative projects, documents, and team spaces. Here are just a few examples:

Knowledge bases and documentation
: Create and maintain a centralised repository of documents, manuals, policies, procedures, and best practices for easy access and reference. Learn more with our guide on how to create a Confluence knowledge base.

Project management:
Plan, track, and manage projects by creating project plans, timelines, task lists, and milestones. Integrate with project management tools like Jira for seamless collaboration.

Company intranet:
Centralise company-wide announcements, policies, HR resources, and employee directories. Create a unified platform for employees to access essential information and resources.
A gif showing three Confluence pages stacking in front of each other
Example pages created with Content Formatting Macros for Confluence
Team space: Create dedicated spaces for different departments, such as HR, marketing, sales, and IT. Customise each department space with relevant documents, projects, workflows, and information tailored to the specific needs of the department.

Event planning and coordination:
Organise events such as meetings, workshops, conferences, and team outings. Share event details, agendas, and resources with attendees to ensure a smooth and successful event.

To see more examples of what you can create in Confluence, read our guide on Confluence templates.

Is Confluence right for me?

Deciding on a tool for your organisation takes careful consideration. Here's why Confluence might be the ideal choice for you, and a few considerations to keep in mind.

Confluence could be right for you if:

  • Your need a centralised knowledge hub: If your organisation struggles with scattered information across multiple platforms or documents, Confluence provides a single source of truth where all knowledge and documentation can be stored and accessed easily.
  • You value collaboration and transparency: Confluence fosters a culture of collaboration and transparency by enabling team members to contribute, review, and share content in real time. It promotes accountability and ensures everyone is on the same page.
  • You want to streamline workflows: By integrating Confluence with your existing tools and workflows, you can streamline processes, reduce manual tasks, and improve overall efficiency.


When it might not be right:

  • Your company is reluctant to try new platforms: To get the most out of Confluence, it’s important to have buy-in from your teams.
  • You need a space for small, simple projects: For teams or projects with straightforward requirements, Confluence's robust feature set might feel like overkill. In this instance, simpler collaboration tools might be more suitable. Read our guide on the best collaboration tools for software that might better suit your needs.

Take knowledge sharing to new heights


Confluence is an incredibly powerful tool that can transform your team's productivity. By removing barriers to information and reducing the time spent switching between apps and browser tabs, you give your team back the time they need to realise their full potential.

Just installed Confluence?

Tailor Confluence to your teams’ needs and increase company buy-in with our range of useful apps.
Written by
A headshot of Holly Aspinall
Holly Aspinall
Content Marketing Manager
Holly is dedicated to writing valuable, accessible guides that help users understand their tools better. She champions products that help modern workers do more with Confluence, monday.com, and beyond.

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