Help Scout’s Open Source Alternative Being Redesigned

As per Help Scout’s request the FreeScout help desk (free Help Scout alternative) is coming through the process of redesign. Help Scout design is really good, so it may be not easy to change or improve something which is very close to perfect. But it is possible…

Still there is a lot to do, but at this point we can share some intermediate results. FreeScout is slowly obtaining it’s own distinctive style. Before when you were working in both Help Scout and FreeScout sometimes when switching between them it was hard to say which system you were using at the moment. Now already there is no way one can mix two help desks.

Color scheme has been changed to the glossy blue-white one:

All the elements (panels, buttons, headers, etc) were redesigned accordingly.

Now application looks lighter and more solid.

In conversations table you can see brand new blue checkboxes. Active conversations are now highlighted with gentle blue, as in Help Scout design sometimes it was not easy to distinguish between active and non-active conversations. ‘Waiting since’ time has been also highlighted to be more eye-catching. The ‘#’ sign has been added to the conversation number as without ‘#’ it is not perceived as a conversation number and looks more like a lonely number. Threads counter has been placed next to the customer name like in Gmail, as before it was just too far. ‘Star conversation’ button is conveniently located in front of the subject.

Customer info panel also became lighter and has been united with “Previous Conversations” block, as they are very much interconnected.

All avatars in the app were converted into round shaped ones to look more modern.

In Help Scout it was sometimes difficult to notice which folder is selected when viewing a mailbox, now in the new FreeScout design it is much easier to see which mailbox is selected:

Better, isn’t it?

Mailboxes in the dashboard became shady boxes. Also right in the dashboard now you can see the date of the oldest unanswered conversation. This allows support agent without even opening a mailbox to determine for how long customer is waiting for the reply. Green/grey stripes have been removed, now inactive mailboxes are marked with the dark background, which feels very natural. In the Help Scout design it was not very convenient to open a mailbox by clicking on it’s title, so ‘Open Mailbox’ button has been added.

Help Scout conversation toolbar also has been reworked:

In Help Scout when viewing conversation messages there were few issues. Customer and support agent actions were both marked with grey text and white background. As a result, when scrolling through the conversation threads it was quite difficult to determine which message belongs to support agent, and which — to the customer: for each message your eyes had to jump to the left border to check stripe’s color at the left. Support agent must be able to easily distinguish between his replies and customer messages. So FreeScout conversation colors have been made consistent:

  • Orange —support agent note (orange color is the de facto standard for notes on the web).
  • Blue — support agent replies (blue in FreeScout designates support agent actions).
  • Grey/white— customer replies.

Now in the new design support agent can easily see his replies among conversation threads:

Titles for actions (“replied”, “started the conversation”, “added a note”, “created a draft”) have been removed. Try to open a conversation in Help Scout and focus on reading it and replying to thecustomer, you will automatically skip these additional texts. What you really need to know especially when just starting to use the help desk is where the first and the last conversation’s messages are, which you can determine by date. In Help Scout when you open a new conversation you have not read before and if conversation has many messages it takes time to scroll to the first one. So in FreeScout if conversation has more than 2 replies, you can quickly scroll to the beginning of conversation by clicking on the arrow.

More updates coming soon, stay tuned.

FreeScout Team

Free open source help desk & shared mailbox