Support Center+ – Going (ever) forward

Greetings readers.

If you are an Oxwaller/Skadater and have been keeping up with the store as of late, you will find that Support Center+ has been recently updated. This makes it version 3.0, and build 20. I’ve finally got the plugin to a state where I wanted the old FoxTechs one to be, and figured I’d share what’s Support Center+ has that now makes it completely different from the old FoxTechs one that racked over 2.3k downloads.

With update 3.0, I redesigned a lot of pages. The old Support Center page always felt underwhelming and non-welcoming to me. A support center should hit a user with a load of information at one glance, and give the impression there are multiple outlets to get them the help they want (think the Facebook Help Center). I decided to change the default layout of the landing support page for users.

The Search Bar is now at the top and spreads the entirety of the page .content class, giving quick and easy-to-use access to the feature. I kept the left | right column layouts, but made the left more prominent to display main info there. Top Articles is still there, and now has more prominence on the content. There’s also now a simply box with a Welcome Message (it’s a plugin text string too, so you can edit what it says via the Admin Language settings) using the user’s name and the website name. Underneath is the new “Community Help” widget, which can be turned on/off by the Admin. Perfect if you have a forum setup for Community Support. The Tickets nav box stays as well. I also finally added a main Navigation menu to the main support center, so user’s have easier access around the plugin.

With update 1.3, I introduced the second configuration variable “Email Notifications.” This nifty setting let’s you decide whether or not the system will queue out an update email to the user whenever their ticket has been replied to. With Update 3.0, I added the Help Forum/Help Forum URL settings, for letting you display the Community Help promo box from the first screenshot, Article Sharing toggle, which lets you turn on/off the sharing of knowledgebase articles to social media services, and Recommended Articles toggle, which lets you turn on/off the “Recommended Articles widget.” These are all options I wanted the old plugin to have, but it never did. Now, that dream is a reality, and customers have more control over their plugin.

ALL Ticket Lists now display the appropriate Department they were submitted too. When I took command of the plugin, I noticed the Department feature was never fully made, and while I still haven’t thought of the best approach to create the department system efficiently, the use of departments is now more prominent as they help organize which ticket is where. The table for Ticket Lists is better styled now, as well.

The actual “Ticket View” page has been restyled, first in build 13 and now even more in build 20. For all viewing pages (Admin, Support [User’s], and Support Manager [Staff]), the ticket page now shows a “Ticket Info” scrolling column where all necessary ticket info is displayed. This is also where the “Delete/Request Deletion” link is now located. The ticket thread now has a left-borders of (3) alternating colors to help make reading easier, and the message information (Posted by XX at XX) is now smaller, with an alternating background color as opposed to the old thread style, which was simple row-by-row text.

From the most recent Update 3.0, Knowledgebase Article pages now have a facelift, with more content on the screen making it a more attractive read. Using the new left | right layout, with the left content being prominent, there is a now a “Recommended Articles” column that can be turned on/off, which displays at most 5 other articles that share at least (1) Tag with the Article the user is currently viewing. This prompts for further reading and easier navigation by users looking for support. The Knowledgebase Article title is now styled to be more of a header and less of just bold text.

I have also properly separated the article tools (rates, tags) from the article with a simple line break, and now tags are stylish buttons rather than simply text links. The eye-catching, call-to-action “Share Article” button (which can be turned on/off) is now available, and when clicked opens a native floatbox with buttons to share the article to social media.

Update 3.0 now extends the base Knowledgebase page by offering a click access to ALL available tags you have made, so users can browse for help by the Tag.

Update 1.1 added “Ticket Manager,” which then became “Support Manager” in update 1.3. Support Manager lets you use Oxwall’s Authorization (User Roles) system to assign a certain user type to access the system, essentially letting you have a support staff that can read/reply/delete tickets and create/edit/delete knowledgebase articles without letting them access your sensitive Admin Backend. In the old FoxTechs version, this was a very major request from users, and now Support Center+ offers it to you. It’s one of the major differences between it and the old version.

Mobile was the introduced in 1.0 of Support Center+, being the only major change and difference when the plugin was created. You now finally have the option to let mobile users utilize your support system! Your users can read/rate and search the articles, and view their tickets/submit new ones. The plugin creates a link to the bottom of the left navbar. Mobile support was one of my promised features when the FoxTechs version was out, and Support Center+ finally introduced it.

This post has outlined all of the changes Support Center+ has currently received, and what makes it different from what was once called Support Center (free version) by FoxTechs. I’ve been keeping up with this plugin for almost 2 months, and providing updates accordingly. Sadly, it hasn’t performed very well on the business side, so Update 3.0 will be the last update (hotfix updates will be made if important bugs are reported) until it begins to pick up in sales, as though I do this to further learn and for a side gig, I can’t do it without funds.

I know the low sales is partly due to the Oxwall community buying less and less these days. There are also plenty of Skadate customers who don’t even know about the store missing out on so many options. If and when the OWEngine store arrives, I will be testing my plugins there and publishing on there as well.

I have decided to open donations if anyone is willing, to help further the development of the plugin. Buying a license also helps a bunch, and guarantees you all of the updates and any new features that may come!

I plan on working on the following for Support Center+ when I can achieve the proper financial backing (either via donations or license sales):

-Notifications to users in the Support Authorization group when Tickets are made

-A quick F.A.Q widget the admin can turn on/off and setup to display on the main /support/ page to offer even more support to users.

-Further re-designing

-Implementing any suggested features and fixes that I can

Thank you for your time! Again, you can purchase Support Center+ for $20 on the Oxwall Store. You can demo all of my plugins at the JB Tech Test website.

To those who donate toward further plugin development: My heatfelt thanks!

-Jake

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