Discourse vs Zendesk

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Discourse vs Zendesk: What are the differences?


Discourse and Zendesk are both popular software solutions that offer different functionalities. In this comparison, we will highlight the key differences between Discourse and Zendesk.

  1. Pricing Model: Discourse follows an open-source model, which means the software is free to download and install. However, hosting and support services are available at additional costs. On the other hand, Zendesk follows a subscription-based pricing model, where users pay a monthly or annual fee for access to the software and its features.

  2. Primary Functionality: Discourse is primarily a platform for community discussion and engagement. It provides features like forums, topic categorization, user profiles, and notifications. Zendesk, on the other hand, is predominantly a customer support software. Its main functionality revolves around ticket management, knowledge base creation, live chat support, and customer satisfaction surveys.

  3. Customization and Control: Discourse offers high customization options, allowing users to tailor the platform according to their specific needs. It provides a range of customization settings, including themes, plugins, and user management tools. Conversely, Zendesk offers fewer customization options, limiting the ability to modify the overall look and feel of the software.

  4. Integration Capabilities: Discourse supports a wide range of integrations with other software and applications. It allows seamless integration with popular tools like Slack, WordPress, Google Analytics, and more. On the other hand, Zendesk also offers integration options, but the range might be more limited compared to Discourse.

  5. User Interface and User Experience: Discourse focuses on simplicity and ease of use, aiming to provide a clean and intuitive user interface. It emphasizes a modern design and a straightforward user experience for engaging community discussions. Zendesk, on the other hand, prioritizes a comprehensive interface for managing customer support tickets and requests, which may have a steeper learning curve for some users.

  6. Target Audience: Discourse is suitable for organizations or communities looking to foster discussions, build an engaged user base, and provide a platform for knowledge sharing. It caters to a wide range of industries and can be utilized for both internal team communication and external customer engagement. Zendesk, on the other hand, primarily targets companies and support teams that require efficient customer support management tools and capabilities.

In Summary, Discourse is an open-source platform focused on community discussion and offers high customization options, while Zendesk is a subscription-based software specifically designed for customer support with a comprehensive user interface.

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Pros of Discourse
Pros of Zendesk
  • 28
    Open source
  • 19
  • 13
    Email digests
  • 9
    Better than a stereotypical forum
  • 8
    Perfect for communities of any size
  • 7
    It's perfect to build real communities
  • 7
    Made by same folks from stackoverflow
  • 7
    Built with Ember.js
  • 6
    Great customer support
  • 3
    Made by consolidated team with a working business
  • 3
    Translated into a lot of Languages
  • 3
  • 2
    Easy flag resolution
  • 135
    Centralizes our customer support
  • 73
    Many integrations
  • 59
    Easy to setup
  • 26
  • 26
  • 12
  • 7
  • 5
    $1 Starter Pricing Plan
  • 4
    Woopra integration
  • 3
    Proactive Customer Support
  • 1
    Remote and SSO authentication with CMSs like WordPress
  • 1
    Charitable contribution to SF hospital for $20 plan
  • 1
    Full of features
  • 0

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Cons of Discourse
Cons of Zendesk
  • 3
    Heavy on server
  • 2
    Difficult to extend
  • 2
    Notifications aren't great on mobile due to being a PWA
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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is Discourse?

    Discourse is a simple, flat forum, where replies flow down the page in a line. Replies are attached to the bottom and top of each post, so you can optionally expand the context of the conversation – without breaking your flow.

    What is Zendesk?

    Zendesk provides an integrated on-demand helpdesk - customer support portal solution based on the latest Web 2.0 technologies and design philosophies.

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    What companies use Discourse?
    What companies use Zendesk?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Discourse or Zendesk.
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    What tools integrate with Discourse?
    What tools integrate with Zendesk?

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    What are some alternatives to Discourse and Zendesk?
    Disqus looks to make it very easy and rewarding for people to interact on websites using its system. Commenters can build reputation and carry their contributions from one website to the next.
    Flarum is the next-generation forum software that makes online discussion fun. It's simple, fast, and free.
    Discord is a modern free voice & text chat app for groups of gamers. Our resilient Erlang backend running on the cloud has built in DDoS protection with automatic server failover.
    Imagine all your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. That’s Slack. All your messages. All your files. And everything from Twitter, Dropbox, Google Docs, Asana, Trello, GitHub and dozens of other services. All together.
    JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
    See all alternatives