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Despite spruce-up, is the Salesforce Lightning UI fully baked?

Salesforce Lightning UI was updated this fall, enabling even greater ease of use, but pain points still exist in the platform.

When Salesforce, the cloud-based CRM provider, announced Lightning, it had an immediate impact.

Salesforce Lightning is a set of development tools to help companies customize and deploy new apps to mobile devices running Salesforce1. It provides tools, a framework and a visual builder to build apps together "like Lego bricks," said Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris, in 2014.

In 2015, Salesforce took new steps to extend Lightning. First, it reworked the user interface (UI) of Salesforce1 applications, from the Sales Cloud to the Marketing Cloud, which consultants have described as a "beautiful UI." Lightning has enabled greater interoperability between applications and greater speed and ease in building applications on top of Salesforce.

Improvement to the Salesforce UI is a great upgrade and has many opportunities to improve user adoption and create more robust mobile applications and desktop functionality.

Lingering issues with Salesforce Lightning

But, as with many first releases of software, Lightning is not ready for the big time. For basic Salesforce use for smaller companies, it is possible that there could be a relatively smooth transition to the new platform, but there would likely still emerge pain points, and for larger companies, switching to Salesforce Lightning at this time is not likely possible.

There are multiple areas of the new platform to consider before deciding whether a move at this time is right for your company. You should test all of these areas up against your environment before taking any large steps to move to Lightning.

  1. Homepage. The commotion on the Salesforce classic homepage has been drastically reduced in Lightning and gives much more room to the homepage content rather than the various navigation bars to other areas of the system. This is great for simplification and for drawing users to the content rather than being a static landing page that goes largely ignored. One of the issues with this new page for Winter 2016 is that there are no options to change what the content is on this new homepage. It is a take-it-or-leave-it strategy that is sure to change with the coming releases, but if you are not interested in Opportunity performance as a user by quarter, you are out of luck right now.
    As with many first releases of software, Lightning is not ready for the big time.
  2. Navigation. The sidebar is also not customizable, so any custom objects or less common standard objects accessed regularly by a user requires multiple clicks to find and access. All of the "Apps" (i.e. the dropdown in the right top corner with Sales, Call Center, and Marketing as options natively) are now only accessible by a tile which will then require multiple selections before getting the list of objects available in that app. This makes it very important to review the sidebar items that are available to see if it will answer most users' needs. If so, this may not be a problem for your organization. The possible workaround is training your users to toggle between Classic and Lightning, but this is far from an ideal solution.
  3. Reports. Reports got a facelift with Lightning and are more professional looking for presentations, however many of the standard features are not available right now. You cannot export or schedule reports or dashboards currently in Lightning, a very important feature to many companies. Additionally, once you open a dashboard and save in Salesforce Lightning, it is no longer available in Classic. Given the lack of features, this could cause a lot of headache for users if reports are widely used externally of the UI.
  4. Call center. If you have a CTI adapter for a call center, the new UI no longer has the sidebar available that many use for the location of the CTI. For those who use console, this is not an issue, but it is an important thought if you use standard Sales Cloud with an outbound prospecting group or inbound support team.

Salesforce Lightning has great potential, but the upgrade is far from complete. Since Salesforce continues to say it will support the classic UI, it is not important to rush into the new interface until many of the kinks are worked out. But I would expect within two or three new releases -- by Dreamforce 2016 or the end of next year -- we will see many of these issues resolved and even more functionality to appear.

Right now, it is important for Developers and Admins to work in Salesforce Lightning in sandboxes and start getting familiar with the functions and give suggestions to Salesforce through Salesforce Community Ideas.

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This was last published in November 2015

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