Why Salesforce Users Should Switch to Lightning – Right Now!

It was my privilege to attend Salesforce’s Lightning Now tour in London, with colleagues and friends. It was a fantastically productive couple of days and we learnt lots about how easy it is to switch to Lightning Experience, even in spite of having lots of incumbent Visualforce and code to update in order to make the switch.

“It’s just not ready yet.”

I couldn’t disagree more. As a consultant, I’ve been seeing a fair amount of resistance to lightning – not just on the side of the installed customer base, but amongst colleagues and friends who also work with Salesforce in a customer-facing role. They have their reasons for not wanting to make the switch; when Lightning Experience was first released, I switched for the first time in 2015 – and, to my horror, felt the last 7 years of my career and knowledge draining away from me! It was very different when it was first released; the tabs were now on the left – but it’s possible that Salesforce made the decision to reel the UI back in somewhat in order to phase the feature releases and focus on building adoption. My company was an ISV, and our products weren’t ready for Lightning yet, so I had no real reason to learn it for a while after that. Now, there is no reason to be afraid. It is so easy to learn; jump in with both feet, try configuring only in Lightning for a bit, then see how you feel about it!

Let’s Give it a Go Then

This year I changed jobs and decided to have a look at this thing in earnest. While my husband was working through his Trailhead badges, I decided to focus on the one thing I knew would become more important over the coming years, but that I had the least knowledge on, so I tackled some trailhead tasks of my own, which you can find in my Switchover trailmix, if you’re interested. It was worth it. I found configuring Salesforce soo much faster – getting to objects, fields, page layouts was far easier in the Setup area – but more importantly, I could now build some really snazzy pages to make my customers oooh and ahh about. I was getting a bit excited about the possibilities myself.

Why Bother?

Lightning is a reimagined experience; it’s not Classic with a new skin. It works on a completely different framework, driven by metadata. Salesforce took a bunch of UX guys, kicked the Product Managers out, locked them in a building together and asked them to redesign the user interface from scratch, with user productivity, efficiency and activity at the forefront of the design. The result was a new, component-based framework, incorporating standard, custom and AppExchange components that everyone can make. A far greater opportunity to be creative and make your Salesforce org your own.

  • Lightning is now the focus of Salesforce’s innovation and they’re already seeing results in comparison to Classic
  • Salesforce is focused on switching its customers over to Lightning
  • It’s an opportunity to completely re-vamp your org – all those lines of code you built years ago that are now redundant – why not take the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and make the switch at the same time?
    • Keep what works, bin what doesn’t, use declarative tools like Process Builder and Flow to replace legacy code, take the opportunity to redesign your business processes with Lightning to support you
  • ISVs – if your apps aren’t Lightning Ready, there’s a very real risk of being left behind.
  • It is SO EASY to convert Visualforce to Lightning components and reskin it. Visualforce isn’t going away and Salesforce has made that very clear
  • Lightning Experience is component-based, while in Classic, every record has the same screen format (Detail…Related List). And at some point soon, we will be able to make components appear and disappear BASED ON DATA IN THE RECORD. I got a bit excited when I heard about that.
  • You have the power to change how the screen looks and differs between objects, users, apps…..endless possibilities. As a consultant, I can see myself having loads more fun gathering the requirements for this and playing back what I’ve built.
  • Newer features that increase productivity – like Kanban view (for list views), configurable recommendation components, news, showing just 1 related list as a box instead of having to configure at Profile level
  • Migrating attachments to Files is simplified with the migration tool Salesforce has built
  • Reports and dashboards have had a well-needed refurbishment
  • Erm….well, it just LOOKS nicer
  • After playing with it, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to stay in Classic

Developing

Developers shout the loudest about sticking with Classic, but it’s developers who stand to gain the most from the switchover. I spent the last few days in a workshop, taking existing Visualforce pages and re-skinning them using <slds /> and the Lightning Design System; if I can do it with no development experience at all, I am certain you can too!

  • You can expose Visualforce in Lightning Components
  • You can expose Lightning Components in Visualforce
  • Visualforce will still be supported; there are no plans to withdraw support at all

Coding is slightly different for Lightning components, and I can’t profess to offer anything particularly useful in terms of technical trade-offs here, but I’d definitely recommend this project, to show you how simple it is.

What will you do?

It takes a change in mindset to make the switch – possibly some political battles with others who need convincing, but the fact is, Lightning Experience is not going away. In my view, it is far better to face it now, put the time in to learn more and reduce future technical debt. I’ll be recommending Lightning Experience for all new implementations and I look forward to hearing more stories about how switchover projects have progressed over the coming years.

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