The Big Switch — Are You Ready for Lightning Experience?


Salesforce made a big splash with their recent Spring ‘18 release. With the release, administrators can now provide structured reminders to their users, encouraging them to switch to, and actively use, the Lightning Experience (LEX). This powerful prompt helps administrators increase usage on Lightning Experience transformation efforts.

There are specific conditions in which the LEX prompt will appear, which you can learn more about in this SFDC Knowledge article. The prompt can be disabled with a few simple clicks (Settings -> User Interface -> disable the line item for 'Try Lightning Experience Now'). But this small disorientation prompted us to wonder how we can turn LEX transformations into surefire success, so we turned to our LEX experts for the answers we needed.

The Appirio LEX players

Katy Hebert joined Appirio as a Client Success Manager, and has quickly found herself among peers within the Salesforce and CMC practices. She joins the same team as our SFDC MVP, Mike Martin (who’s also one of our Salesforce Account Executives), and Joseph Fiega, Senior Business Consultant. Martin and Fiega both presented on making the switch to LEX at the recent Tahoe Dreamin’ event.

What is Lightning Experience (LEX) and how is it different from Classic?

JF: I read a quote from Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris a while back: “Lightning Experience is about decoupling the data from the user experience.” This quote resonated with me as I reflected on LEX, because for all intents and purposes, LEX is a new platform and a different way of looking at the system.


For years, administrators like myself have dreamed of the day we could dynamically change pages based on the status of a record, or the day we could easily search for objects and fields when working in the setup menus. Well, our dreams have come true and now we can do both of these things and much more!


The challenge is that, as an administrator, I am now forced to think differently about how my users interact with the application, which is causing me to question my historically tried and true approaches, processes, and best practices. Sure that can be scary, but it’s also really exciting!  

KH: It’s easy to think of LEX as a refresh of fonts and colors (to simply create a new UI). But really, at its core, LEX is a redesign so complex that the result is truly a new Salesforce that offers a fresh CRM experience through a fully re-imagined platform. By gathering user insights to drive the redesign, LEX focuses on intelligent, analytic, and streamlined interactions meant to drive user productivity within the platform.

When launching LEX, Mike Rosenbaum said, “Lightning is the CRM we would have built in 1999 if all of the technology we have today had existed back then.” As LEX continues to evolve, users get continual improvements through three annual releases. There are over 150 new features available to users through LEX — including powerful Custom Dashboarding, Opportunity Kanban, App Builder (my personal favorite), Lightning Voice, and Lightning Customer Community. Additionally, LEX is focused on being a mobile-first experience. And for Users who are constantly connecting all around the globe, LEX makes it simple to never be out of touch with your data and tools.

MM: LEX is a component-based UI, allowing administrators to quickly build pages and apps with standard components, as well as custom components, provided via the AppExchange or by internal developers. LEX is a new way of thinking about how you interact with your Salesforce data.

Why does the switch to LEX matter?

MM: LEX is the future. My favorite representation of this is Andres Gluecksmann’s analysis of the Salesforce release notes (above image). Starting in 2015, Andres compared the mentions of features available in “Lightning Only” vs. features available in Classic.

As you can see, new features available in Classic are trending downward. Salesforce has embraced Lightning Experience, so is focusing much of their product development around it.

JF: Mike hit the nail on the head! It’s all about the new features and functionality. While there was a time when Classic and LEX were on par with each other, it simply is not the case anymore. As it stands today, if you want to make the most of your Salesforce instance, you need to be using LEX.

KH: The above graphic sums it up. Salesforce reimagined how users interact with their platform from the ground up. Dreamforce ‘17 was a great insight into the excitement and progress around LEX, including Appirio’s own contributions to the LEX ecosystem. The focus on developing LEX functionality — both at Salesforce and within the partner community — will continue to increase steadily. Getting the most out of your Salesforce instance means not being afraid to jump in and explore the amazing new features that continually roll out.

Is there a deadline for switching to LEX?

MM: Salesforce hasn’t announced a specific deadline or sunset date for Salesforce classic. I assume it will still be a few years off, if ever. But as you can see, there are incentives to move to Lightning based on new functionality. Two of my favorite new features are the Kanban board and path. Kanban allows users to visually drag and drop records across statuses or a process — which can be enabled for most standard objects and any custom object. Path started as the “sales path” functionality, helping users navigate the sales stages of an opportunity. But is now also available for standard objects like Leads, and any custom object as well. There is no deadline as of yet, but I assume there will be one in the future.

KH: I’ve not heard a specific deadline around making the switch to LEX. But if we consider the experience of any new OS or system redesign, the deprecation of Classic — both through support and the lack of new features/functionality — will eventually drive users to adopting LEX.

As Salesforce continues to address some of the gaps that previously existed in LEX, and more end users become comfortable with the LEX experience, adoption will naturally grow.

Salesforce does have some great resources to help organizations control their rollout and adoption, including enabling LEX access at the user, profile, and organization level. There’s also a new CRM trail on Trailhead, where users can get tips on planning LEX implementations and creating communication plans around the switch.

Who is affected by the switch from Classic to LEX?

KH: Everyone — and that’s okay! The nice thing about the transition to LEX is that you can control how fast it happens in your organization and evaluate the new functionality at your pace. For now, you can toggle between Classic and LEX, which is a great educational experience while you’re navigating the new UI. Eventually, everyone will be moving to LEX full-time, but without a deadline forcing the issue, it can be a comfortable transition that allows you to adapt at your pace.

JF: In general, all users can be impacted by the transition. However, Salesforce provides a significant degree of flexibility in terms of how LEX is rolled out. You can target individual users by using Permission Sets, or groups of users using Profiles. It’s also important to understand that the transition is not a hard and fast rule. Long term, you’ll want to disable the option to switch back to Classic. But providing this flexibility can make the transition a bit easier to handle for users as they acclimate to the new experience.  

Where can I learn more about the LEX changeover?

MM: This is one area you won’t have any issues! Salesforce is publishing a lot of content about LEX. Most Admin- and Developer-focused webinars are related to LEX. The Salesforce Admins Podcast has a ton of great discussions with product owners, admins, developers, and executives related to the LEX transition.  

JF: My number one resource for information about LEX is Trailhead. There are several critical Superbadges that will help equip you with the wisdom to understand the changes and the skills to make the transition. I’d recommend starting with the Lightning Experience Specialist Superbadge, then the Lightning Experience Rollout Specialist Superbadge. For those on the development side of the house, I’d encourage you to also complete the Lightning Component Framework Specialist superbadge. The Lightning Experience Roadmap is also always nearby (in fact, I never leave home without it).

Our ebook “Transform Your Worker And Customer Experience With Salesforce Lightning” delves deep into the Lightning CRM, explaining everything, from the fully customizable component library, to the Lightning App Builder. If you have questions about making the switch, set up a meeting with us to discuss your unique Lightning strategy.

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