Since I've started worldbuilding I've organized all my writing into word documents, but I'm starting to look into solutions for creating an online encyclopedia, mostly so I can incorporate hyperlinks and media. Surprisingly, I haven't found any good solutions. It's actually very hard to search for this, because whenever you type in search terms related to online encyclopedias all you get is wiki articles.

I'm completely turned off by Wikis - I have no need for collaboration (which is the whole idea of a Wiki), and the implementation seems pretty involved. Furthermore, the web design of wikis - and I've looked at a lot of examples, from Wikipedia to MediaWiki, Wikia and WikiSpaces - is awful, in my opinion. It's cluttered and very non-intuitive to navigate, and just hurts my face in general. The website of the Encyclopedia Brittanica is much nicer looking, and is closer to what I'm going for.

Wordpress.com, which I use for blogging, is the exact opposite - it's a breeze to implement, a cinch to use, the menus are fast & intuitive, the themes are clean, minimal, easy to navigate, and more or less gorgeous. Unfortunately it's geared towards blogging, and not optimal for encyclopedias.

I've looked into free site makers (Google Sites, Wix, and Weebly among others), but their web design is pretty awful as well, and it seems like they're mainly designed for small businesses, schoolteachers, and grandparents who want to host photo albums.

I could build my own website from scratch at the expense of my sanity, but I thought there'd be at least a few good encyclopedia options online. Do any of you have recommendations for non-Wiki encyclopedia platforms? Or: Are there any web design templates geared towards creating encylopedias?

  • $\begingroup$ What characteristics are you looking for in an encyclopedia? You seem to have something very specific in mind. However, do remember that wikis are successful because they're good at making encyclopedias. They managed to drive Encyclopedia Britanica out of business, so they'd also do a lot to drive out competition from other software packages. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm looking for a non-collaborative encyclopedia template with good web design. Something pre-formatted (like a Wordpress theme) that's geared towards organizing static articles. $\endgroup$
    – user3122
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ The Encyclopedia Britannica's website is actually a great example of what I'd like my site to look like (minus the ads). $\endgroup$
    – user3122
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Crossposting across SE sites is frowned upon, but this question may be better suited for Software Recommendations. You would have to phrase it differently to be able to meets the requirements there, notably leaving out most of your opinions and making a good (bulleted) list of requirements. $\endgroup$
    – user3106
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ Vaguely on topic on SR - but it feels more like a rant than a question. For a migration to work out it needs a ton of love and OP involvement. Consider the platform you want and the exact things that cheese you off about wikis, and the things that make you like wordpress - see if you can list them out. We can probably beat this into a decent SR question, but quite a lot of percussive maintenance is needed, and we might not share the same vision as the OP. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 9:01

3 Answers 3


I'm going to suggest what your trying to avoid, mostly because it's way easier than you think, and way faster than poking around new software.

You already have your content.

You're going to need to add hyperlinks everywhere inside it anyway.

Also, you want it to have some sort of style but I'm getting the vibe you want simple, clean web design. That all points to rolling your own. If your good with Word you can actually use Frontpage to design a template (or not) and import your content really easily. It'll literally take you like 10 minutes for something halfway decent. If your savvy enough to use online tools tools you can probably read up on CSS at w3schools and have your template stylized super quick. Once you have the hooks in place for styling (ids, etc.) then you can just pull CSS themes off the internet to get it beautiful quick, always time to improve it later as well. Also if you don't care about it being online you can just plunk all your files down in a folder and view them locally. If your not out to learn this stuff for good but just build once and reuse, you can easily get this all done in a day. You'd probably spend the same amount of time getting something else set up and it wouldn't be nearly as clean. You could also do the raw HTML from scratch, which isn't quite as quick but still well within a day. Just google "div designer" or "website template builder" if you want a quick-fix.

  • $\begingroup$ I've been looking into some of the nicer web design tools out there (webflow & mackaw for starters) and I think that's the way I'm going to go. I'm concurrently in the process of building a website for my business, but even if I weren't basic web design & coding knowledge is still going to be useful. $\endgroup$
    – user3122
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 3:12

Instead of grinding the wheel again, why not use a wiki package - just turn off any additional users / make it impossible to get an account.

That doesn't solve the issues with the crappy interface / etc. But does solve the 'hate collaborators' issue.

But, in the end, it's all just a website - files that are cross-linked. Why don't you just use a site-design tool? Master everything on a local HD, and then push updates out daily (or on-demand), after you've monkeyed around with new links / whatever.

Also, is this even worldbuilding? Or is it a software question?

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for taking time to answer my question, but I specifically asked for a non-wiki solution, so please don't recommend a wiki! (I also mentioned how I didn't want to design a site from scratch) I was asking if there were any non-wiki platforms - in the sense that Wordpress is a platform for blogging - that would make it easy to publish an encyclopedia. I'm getting the sense that no, there aren't. $\endgroup$
    – user3122
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ I posted this in worldbuilding in the hopes that other people may have been looking for similar solutions - could you recommend a different SE that might be a better bet? $\endgroup$
    – user3122
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ @lifescansdarkly Have a look around softwarerecs.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 18:34

You did not specify the pricing options, so I am going to assume you can put a little out of your pocket and offer you Confluence

In my company we use it for having all the business specifications up to date. I am going to highlight several functionalities which I feel are totally cool:

  • Nice and sleek design
  • You can create a "space" for each project (totally handy in SW developement)
  • Collaborative (duh)
  • You can link several pages together
  • Incorporated search possibilities
  • But ... paid solution

BTW, if you are going to have a requirement around free solution, you will always have to compromise somewhere...

  • $\begingroup$ A free alternative is Trello. $\endgroup$
    – kaiser
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ I took a look at Confluence & Trello, but I'm not 100% sure what they are at their most basic - are they software? Can they create websites, or are they organization tools? I'm looking to publish an online encyclopedia. $\endgroup$
    – user3122
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ We use it as documentation tool for writing tech specs. For my company it has great advantage that more users can work at it at same time and it still resolves versions pretty great $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 10:17