Multi-Language Support in Zoho Discussions Forums

Posted by Posted on by
8

It’s been almost a year since we officially
launched Zoho Discussions
and so far, the number of businesses that deploy Zoho Discussions has steadily increased. With the increasing popularity, come a large volume of feature requests from our users. Out of which, one of the most highly requested features is the ability to use Zoho Discussions in multiple languages as it greatly helps our customers to reach and engage a large of number of people worldwide who speak different
languages – especially non-English speakers.

In order to better serve our customers all over the world, Zoho Discussions now supports 10 different languages: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish. And Zoho Discussions offers
you two ways of implementing language support for your user community:


1. Communicate in the language of your business

This is the most traditional way of setting up a user community / forum. You can set your Zoho Discussions portal to render itself exclusively in one of the supported languages. To enable this feature:

  • Go to the “
    Preferences
    ” tab under portal settings. [Settings > Portal > Preferences]
  • Choose the language of your business from one of the supported languages.
Voila! Your online community is now locked to one language. All your users will participate in screens that talk in that one language.
[Sample screen with menu options, instructions in Chinese]
This language lock down feature, adds more power to the visual customization features available in Zoho Discussions thus improving the brand experience.

2. Communicate with your global audience
Of course, by choosing not to lock down the language, you can create a communication platform for your global audience – where the entire instructions, navigation options appear in the language preferred by the end user.
For instance, if your business spans employees speaking different languages – say, from China and Japan, you can set up 2 different forums in your discussions portal – one for each region Chinese and Japanese. Or, you can let them all participate in one forum too. To do this, you need to select your portal language to “Default”. With this selection, your end-users can see the portal in the default language of their browser i.e., users from China will see the portal in Chinese while the other users from Japan will see it in Japanese.

Hope this multi-language support option give you yet another reason to try out Zoho Discussions! If your preferred language isn’t listed, please
subscribe to Zoho Discussions and drop us a note at support@zohodiscussions.com or in our
forums and we will be happy to accommodate your request.

Happy Discussing!

Zoho@Zoho: How we promote and encourage linchpins

Posted by Posted on by
0
In his latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin advices people to find ways to be unique… find ways to be become indispensable in a modern world that is filled with generic drones inhabiting nondescript office cubes. There’s some good advice for individuals in there. But there’s of course another side to that coin… How can companies create an environment where linchpins naturally appear and develop?

We are not management consultants, neither we’d dream of competing with Seth Godin… but we can tell you how we we promote and encourage linchpiness at Zoho.

Of course, it all starts with the culture. Zoho Corp is a very open company where anyone and everyone can comment, propose and criticize. But that is never enough. At around 1,200 employees, we are not what you’d call small. We have a truly distributed team with 5 offices around the world… so how do linchpins get noticed across all the noise and all the different things going on?

We use Zoho Discussions internally to run everything that we might want to get communicated, discussed or feedbacked-on. The underlying idea is that anyone can have a good idea for any area. An engineer might have a good marketing idea; a lawyer will have a suggestion about usability; a marketing person might want to improve some internal process… not everyone will have a good idea, but a good idea can come from anyone.

To give you an idea, these are the most important topics today (or in the Twitter lingo,  the Trending topics):

(sorry! Had to blur a three sensitive topics there – after all, this is an internal tool!)

So if you are someone with a strong opinion on one of those topics, you can voice your opinion there. Regardless of your rank. Will that generate a lot of noise? Sure it will, but we can also separate the needle from the haystack with voting – how do others feel about your idea or your comment? That is all reflected there.

And of course, in our Zoho Discussions-powered forum we can also see who has been active in the public discussions: As you’d expect, there’s a lot more to it – separate areas for different topic (by product, division, marketing, sales, etc). Just different spaces where the linchpin-to-be can contribute and be noticed. Go to a user’s profile page and see the latest posts s/he has written or commented on. Just like in Twitter, you are able to see the people that are followers, posts, who he is following, etc.

You can set alerts, follow a particular topic or a user, even follow a particular area/theme (like following a hashtag in Twitter… Twitter guys, you can steal this from us). There a lot more to Zoho Discussions in an internal setting that I will not discuss here.

The overall point is – create a culture where employees can easily discuss any topic, but also provide a good virtual space where linchpins-to-be can be heard, encouraged and recognized. The secret to success in business is not having drones, but in having unique individuals that contribute with their unique skills.

Rodrigo

Integrated Single Sign On for your Customer Support Community : Tailoring Zoho Discussions Part II

Posted by Posted on by
2

In Part 1 of this series of blog posts, we talked about visual customization and branding features of Zoho Discussions. However, branding does not stop with visual customization alone. Most businesses collect user data (email, name, demographic info etc) and use it to provide better support, introduce features, conduct campaigns and also to offer a member area.

End users expect to use their profile information right in all areas of the website – including user communities. Most online community services encourage their customers to transit to “Open ID” (or Google, Yahoo, FB, Twitter based) authentication. This approach definitely has its merits since the end user has to manage one less profile and password. But, this approach presents 2 problems:

  1. Businesses need to change their existing model and develop and deploy code updates to their existing system
  2. Existing users (most businesses already have an registration requiring forum / community) will have to forget their current profile and migrate over.

These drawbacks have been a driving force for most businesses to fall back to deployable open source solutions as opposed to online-hosted solutions.

But it need not be this way! It is possible to implement single sign on a hosted community solution, thus liberating yourself from maintenance and scalability issues, without giving up on the flexibility and ease of use.

Zoho Discussions has always supported enterprise techniques like LDAP sync, SAML based authentication. We have recently added a highly simplified, yet secure, REST API based Single Sign On technique. Coupled with visual customization options, SSO integration provides a unified “one-brand” experience for your end users. This allows your end users to seamlessly navigate between your website and your community (hosted by Zoho Discussions) and use any login scheme that you currently have or choose to upgrade to.

And the best part is, implementing this technique for your community can be done without any significant programming (Learn more). You can roll out this feature – including code changes and testing in a matter of days.

And before you ask, yes we do offer migration of your existing forum content from sources like phpBB, Google Groups mail archives, EML, CSV and more. Contact us for more details.

Sign up to Zoho Discussions today and get an interactive customer support community, sans the headache of customizing and maintaining one.

Tailoring your Zoho Discussions-powered Online Community – Part I

Posted by Posted on by
10

Building an online community for your service or product is one of the most effective ways to promote customer confidence, loyalty and repeat business. It is of course fundamental that when you create a community, you align your brand’s value and identity with your online community. Zoho Discussions offers several ways in which you can customize your community, so that it matches what you want to do with it. Keeping a consistent look-and-feel and visual experience from your customers as they go from your website to your customer support forums is one of the most-requested things customers ask for.

Zoho Discussions offers extensive rebranding options, which enables you to create a rich user experience and fully align your online community with the other elements of your web presence. So we explore that here.
We’ll go into more advanced settings in Part II and Part III of this post.

Visual Experience

You can customize anything and everything in the online community that you create with Zoho Discussions. Basic changes to logo, colors, header and footer are available through an easy-to-use control panel. Advanced
customizations including your own custom CSS are also available. And for the ultimate custom experience, we also offer Zoho Discussions as a “white label” product.

Topic Types

Different communities have different kinds of postings – questions, ideas, problems, etc. With Zoho Discussions, you can easily create a Q&A forum, or an Idea board or a customer support community, etc. by customizing the topic type of your portal according to what you need.

Custom Widgets

Widgets are a great way to provide more useful and context sensitive information for your community to look at. Zoho Discussions offers a number of ready-made widgets, which enable you to share important announcements, promote top contributors, drive traffic to the most popular topics and more.

Alternatively, you have the ability to create custom widgets – HTML & Link Widgets – with which you can embed any HTML object to promote / advertise your product and share your product links, so that your users
can make the most use of it.

Customizing the UI is just one of the ways in which you can tailor your online community and make it a part of your brand’s online experience. In the next post about Zoho Discussions, we’ll discuss integrating it with
your own sign-on system and providing a smooth experience for your users.

You can read more about customizing Zoho Discussions here . And as always, feel free to send your comments in our online forums (powered by Zoho Discussions, of course!) or by e-mailing us support@zohodiscussions.com

Happy Discussing!

Enhancing Online Support Forums with Zoho Discussions – and new features!

Posted by Posted on by
4

Customer support is one of the most commons scenarios Zoho Discussions is used (and designed!) for. There are many types of customer support – Zoho Discussions is oriented towards the self-service/community-driven one: customers themselves helping each other through customer support forums. This of course makes sense for a number of reasons. Not only it is more economical for companies to provide support this way, but it also provides a better support experience for customers, who get better answers from real customers in similar situations.

We recently introduced a few new features that make Zoho Discussions-powered online customer support forums even better. As with other things Zoho, we’ve been using them for our own internal forums (which we use quite extensively!) as well as using them silently in our customer-facing forums.zoho.com. We like them! So it’s time we share them with you.

Topic Status

A topic status basically indicates what “state” a particular conversation is in. For example, when someone posts a Problem, the possible topic status are: Solved, Not a Problem, Need more Info, Working on It, Work-around Suggested. In contrast, when someone submits a Question, the topic status can be: Working on It, Answered or Need more Info. 

Filters

Of course, being able to set the status is only half the story. Topic statuses become more useful when you can search for them. And that’s why we have now enabled Filters. Filters allow visitors to the forum to quickly identify those topics that are more relevant for them. For example – see only the announcements that have been posted in the forums or only see those ideas that are in-progress:


Nice URLs

One recent change we also introduce are nice, SEO-friendly URL for topics. 

Lots of valuable content can be stored in your discussion forums. And it’s important for our customers to make sure that content is easily discoverable by their users through search engines. So to aid in that, conversation now also support user- and seo-friendly URLs. For example, 

For example, what used to have the cryptic URL:

https://forums.zoho.com/#Topic/2266000000821113

Now becomes:

https://forums.zoho.com/topic/backup-a-project-to-your-local-hard-drive

A-ha! That sound more like it, and should give you a couple of brownie points with the search engines.

And a bonus: Activity Graphs

And lastly, even though this is not specific only for customer support forums, I thought of mentioning this here, since well, it is new too! We’ve made a new widget available that you can add to your support forums – an activity graph that shows forum activity, including posts and replies, with daily and weekly view. 

We hope you’ll find these features useful for running your online support forums. And, as a friendly reminder for our open source friends – we have something good for you too!


Rodrigo

Zoho Discussions is now free for Open Source Projects; jQuery deploys Discussions

Posted by Posted on by
10

At Zoho, we use many open source components including JavaScript
libraries like jQuery. When John Resig from jQuery blogged about his issues with Google Groups,
we approached him to offer Zoho Discussions for free as we immensely
benefit from jQuery. After evaluating several discussion forums, John
finally decided to go with Zoho Discussions.

We ended up analyzing countless solutions but in the end we chose to go with Zoho Discussions. A combination of decisions drove us to this decision:

  • Zoho Discussions seamlessly integrates both regular, forum-style,
    discussions and Q&A. Additionally all the moderation and
    administration tools are designed around building and managing a slick
    workflow for answering questions and concerns.
  • The Discussions team at Zoho has been incredibly accommodating. Not
    only providing all the hosting for free but going out of their way to
    fix concerns and integrate our full Google Groups back history. We’ve
    been working very closely with them and they’ve fixed, or are fixing,
    every issue that we’ve brought forward.

jQuery had
significant amount of data in Google Groups as well as mailing lists.
To provide a seamless transition, we worked with jQuery team to migrate
all their existing data, which includes 51K+ posts and over 116K responses, to Zoho Discussions. The new jQuery discussion
forum is now live at http://forum.jquery.com.
You’ll notice that Zoho Discussions is customized to fit the jQuery
website theme. To participate in the discussion, you can login using
your Zoho credentials or with Google, Google Apps or Yahoo account.

John provides additional details about this migration in his blog post.

We
would like to thank John and the jQuery team for providing us the
opportunity to power their discussion forums. We benefit immensely from
jQuery and we hope they’ll find Zoho Discussions useful.

Zoho Discussions for your Open Source Project

As
we benefit from many other open source projects ourselves, we’d like to
extend this to all open source projects. This means, if you are running
an Open Source Project, we will offer Zoho Discussions for FREE based
on your needs. To take advantage of this, go to http://www.zoho.com/discussions/open-source.html and provide us your details.

This
free offer for open source projects is different from the free version
we currently have. We will tailor Zoho Discussions for your
custom needs and can offer the best package for your open source
project. To get started, please visit
http://www.zoho.com/discussions/open-source.html

We’d like to thank the jQuery team for using Zoho Discussions and we look forward to working with other open source projects.