Dealing With a Zendesk Deprecation

Zendesk deprecation

So There’s a Zendesk Deprecation to Deal With.

A Zendesk deprecation can be intimidating. You’ve been using Zendesk in a certain manner for a long time, and then, Zendesk announces that they are phasing out certain features and functionality, such as the deprecation of widgets, the web portal, the classic interface and web portal customizations. Rather than be intimidated, think of this as an excellent opportunity to upgrade your interface and improve how efficiently you are using Zendesk.

Zendesk Deprecations Are For the Best

Zendesk deprecation

You can’t expect Zendesk to keep outdated features and functionality forever. As they say, their service must evolve, for security, privacy, and regulatory requirements – and making sure the service remains easy-to-use. While their customer service is, as you would expect, fantastic, managing individual cases and implementations can be a challenge.
Last June, Zendesk announced several features will be deprecated. While it may sound frightening, all it means is that certain features will no longer receive enhancements or improvements. It will start happening soon though, so you should start addressing the features and functionality being phased out immediately.

Different deprecations may be felt more seriously by you.

One of the bigger ones announced, is that the old Zendesk classic agent interface (which many people are still using) will disappear in Nov 2016. Everyone who is still using it will be forced to switch to the new interface.

What Does This All Mean?

Practically, this means that:

  • You will need to train your agents how to use Lotus.
  • You will lose any custom widgets that manipulated the agent interface.
  • You will lose custom widgets that manipulated the web portal (CSS, JS & HTML widgets).
  • You will need to manually migrate your data to the Help Center in case you don’t want to use the Zendesk in house migration tool. (The tool has certain limitations and bugs that we’ve solved with our own migration tool.)

In order to make the switch as smooth as possible there, here are some highlights of things to keep in mind.

Migrate the Knowledge Base

There is a Zendesk tool for the migration of the web portal base (categories, forums, articles) to Help Center (categories, sections, topics) but it can get complicated and messy.

While the Zendesk migration tool does pretty well for most standard migrations, there are several limitations. For example: If an old web portal article links to another web portal article, when using Zendesk’s migration tool the link will still point to the old web portal article after content is moved to Help Center. (We’ve developed functionality to first migrate over all content and then in a second run updating all internal links to point at the migrated articles.)

Interface Design of Support Site

Unfortunately, simply copying the soon to be deprecated widget code from your old web portal to the Help Center is not an option. You can’t take a 1986 Honda Civic and put a 2015 body over it and expect it to run like a 2015. You have to upgrade and replace many of the parts as well. The html code, class names, ids and the general structure, is entirely different in the help center than it was on the web portal. This means that the widget code using class names and html identifiers to manipulate the interface will not keep working after switching to Help Center. In other words: All your customizations, features and branding will be  lost.

You’ll need to redo the design and development of custom features.

You can recreate the front-end for old web portal using HTML/CSS/JS in the new HelpCenter. (Or maybe you didn’t have a Help Center you were proud of to start with – and this is a good opportunity to change that!).

Updating and Upgrading Your Widgets

In the new interface Widgets, whether they are Global CSS Widgets, Custom Widgets, or Global JavaScript Widgets, will become obsolete and will be replaced by apps . (In the agent interface customizations are called “apps”, in the Help Center there is a section for custom CSS, custom HTML and Custom JS, but they are not called “Apps”.)

You’ll be able to find comparable apps for each widget in the Zendesk store. However, if it was a custom widget, you’ll probably need to have a custom app made for you. There’s a chance the classic widget can be replaced by an existing app.

There are also 200+ apps that work with Zendesk and growing. “There’s an app for that”, an app to fulfill your customer needs and save you a lot of time. It can be a daunting task to determine not only how to integrate them, but even finding the needle in the haystack.

(We can help you with identifying, integrating, adapting, and if not, building the apps you need. If you are not sure, talk to us to find out if we can replace your classic Zendesk Widget with an existing Zendesk app or about developing a custom app to match your old functionality. We’ve built and worked with 100’s of apps, so we can speed up the process for you off the bat.)

Sum It Up

If you have old agent interface widgets make sure they are adapted to the new Zendesk Apps to maintain your custom functionality.

Make sure your old Web portal widgets are shifted to new Help Center customizations. If you are looking for inspiration check out this post on rules for building great help centers and these 10 great examples of help centers that we built.

Above all, make sure your data is migrated properly. There’s nothing worse than a customer not being able to find support for their problem.

So That’s All

If done properly, the Zendesk deprecation of features and functionality will actually make your Help Center a better overall experience. This is a great chance to implement best practices on ticket deflection and update your whole help center system.

Zendesk’s deprecation really is about innovation and improving your user experience take advantage!

If you want to look through some good articles on Zendesk have a look here – they explain things very nicely:

Moving from Classic to new Zendesk 
Evaluating your widgets before moving to the new Zendesk
About the different versions of Zendesk 

If you are looking for any support Zendesk related, talk to us. As an official partner, we’ve worked on hundreds of Zendesk projects and migrations – and we guarantee to make your life easier. You can check out our full range of services here.


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