How the new Salesforce Lightning UI will impact you

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By: Bethany Williams | 9.1.15

Let’s preemptively answer the question that just popped into many of your heads: Should we wait until Lightning comes out to implement Salesforce if we’re not already using it? The answer is a resounding no!

The new Lightning Experience includes an updated skin, system, and set of functionalities. Administrators can turn the interface on and off by user or group, so for now it’s fully in your hands whether and for which users you’d like to turn this on. Go ahead and move forward in the process of researching, vetting, or implementing Salesforce wherever you are.

What does it mean?
Salesforce1 and Lightning Components have been released over the past few years and provide the building blocks for the new user interface (UI). This means that when you upgrade to Lightning on your desktop you may recognize similarities to Salesforce1 mobile. The upgrade isn’t just a snazzy new skin, but aims to augment ease of navigation, data entry, and usability for everyone.

Last year at Dreamforce, Salesforce announced the new Lightning platform, which brought Salesforce1 mobile capabilities to developers. Now, they’ve made a much bigger announcement building on this platform: a total interface upgrade with analytics to match. The Lightning Experience is currently available in preview, and will be generally available after the Winter ‘16 Release (October 17th). Both existing and new customers will be able to access the upgrade at no additional cost, and it will be available for Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and any platform license for all editions.

Why the upgrade?
One of the biggest complaints of Salesforce users has always been that the UI is clunky and not intuitive. Lightning aims to address this with features that make it easier for users to get the most of their CRM experience. The new interface helps users get a more comprehensive snapshot of their work progress without having to analyze the data piece by piece. Fundraising and sales teams will likely find the most interesting use cases for the new Lightning Experience.For example, the new view of opportunities is great for moving constituents through the pipeline and analyzing work stage by stage. However, changes are being made across the board, and users from every department and sector will see an impact in their work.

lightning home screen before after (2).png

What’s new?

  • Updated Opportunity Screen: shows you what stage the opportunity is at, including what your team did last and what they’re doing next.
  • New navigation tools: the tab bar is replaced by a navigation bar, and there’s a new Assistant menu on your homepage to help you pick up where you left off.
  • Pipeline Board: Shows your entire pipeline by stage (needs analysis, proposal, donation pledged, estimate sent, etc.). You can drag and drop opportunities from one stage to the next.
  • Automatic saving in notes: We’re not sure if this is true on every page but we’re keeping our fingers crossed!
  • Customizable Dashboards: So much more attractive, better colors, responsive interface, and 9 columns as opposed to 3! This responds to the most requested customer features on the IdeaExchange.
  • Point and Click Features:  Ability to move people and projects along easily with drag-and-drop. Advanced hover functionality allows for editing within the hover pop-up, allowing the user to avoid navigating away from their primary work page.

Existing configuration-type customizations will still work in Lightning, and the platform is supported by most browsers (IE11, Safari 8, Mac OSX, Mozilla/Firefox, Chrome).

How can I check the impact this will have on my Salesforce instance?
You can test how Lightning effects your Visualforce pages, and you can test how Lightning works for your organization’s processes in Salesforce by previewing it in a sandbox before you switch it on in production. You’ll also want to gauge how your AppExchange apps are evolving (many will be coming out with upgrades to accommodate this switch). This is a big change, so you don’t want to underestimate the time and dedication needed to ensure that it’s a smooth process.

Additional note on Visualforce: during the recent Lightning preview, Salesforce hinted that Visualforce pages may not be supported in Lightning so it’s quite likely you will need to rewrite these. If you don’t have developers on your team, reach out to us for help.  

How can I learn more?
Admins might want to head over to the new CRM trail on Trailhead to learn about new features and get tips on planning implementations.There’s also a new Developer Trail for learning how to create Lightning Components, build with Lightning App Builder and Visualforce, and make apps visually up-to-snuff with the new Lightning Design System.

Like we mentioned before, this is a big change. It’s an exciting upgrade, but one that requires careful communication and a deliberate roll-out strategy. Contact us if you’re curious about Lightning or need help in preparing your instance and organization for this step.

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