I've started to use admin-side form replying system in real conditions, and there's a lot of space for improvements. All needed features are there, but interface need to drastically evolve.
Actually, I clic on the form name from left column to see messages.
If I want to reply from this grid view, I need to:
1. double-click on submission to open it, or clic on submission once and then on "Edit" toolbar button
2. read the message
3. click on "Messages" tab
4. click on "Reply" toolbar button
5. write my reply
6. click on "Send" button
7. click on "Save" button
So in total, 6 clics are needed to reply to a single message, and of course I need to wait between each click for the interface to load.
My server is maybe slow, but even on a faster server, 6 clicks multiplied by dozen of messages counts too much wasted time.
Same problem if I select many messages in grid and edit them all: I won't save even one click, because I need to click on "next" toolbar button, and in next view, I need to click back on "General" tab to see the received message.
Of course, I could blindly click on "reply" toolbar button directly, and read the question that have been quoted in reply text area, but if message isn't to be replied by me (I've many admin on this project), then I've wasted another couple of clicks and load waiting time.
I hope I've convinced you that messages system is a real click-n-wait tale, here is my proposal, which is a merging of both tabs (general + messages):
- from messages grid, a single clic on a link (link for each line) open the new combined 'message + reply' text area
- below text area, new buttons : 'Send' -- 'Send and open next one'
- tabbing would be adjusted so if I type "tab" from text area, focus will be on "Send" button, and another tab press will focus on "Send and open next one"
- conversation appears threaded, with latest message on top of list
I'm also proposing something which is really simple but very useful: a system to save/recall preset replies. If you know gmail lab's one, then nothing else to add :)