Last week Salesforce made a global announcement introducing the new Lightning Experience which was broadcast live from San Francisco to Developer and User Groups around the world. In case you missed out you can re-watch the broadcast on Salesforce.com.
What the whole announcement boils down to is this – Salesforce as you know (and maybe love) it is getting a huge facelift. The Salesforce Classic (aka. Aloha) UI that we all use every day is on the way out and a new era of Lightning is being ushered in, but what does that mean for you?
What exactly is Lightning Experience?
The easiest way to explain Lightning Experience is to quote Salesforce themselves.
Built on the Salesforce1 Platform, the new Lightning Experience combines the new Lightning Design System, Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components to enable anyone to quickly and easily create modern enterprise apps.
- Get a completely reimagined user interface with a seamless experience across all your devices
- Build apps visually with Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components
- Get tools and best practices with the Lightning Design System
The Lightning Experience bring Salesforce’s brand new UI, the existing Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components and the new Lightning Design System together under one neat umbrella that is going to shape the future of the platform beginning with Winter ’16.
If you want to know more about Lightning Experience then I suggest you check out the Lightning microsite.
How do I get started with Lightning?
I’m glad you asked! Along with the huge announcement introducing the Lightning Experience Salesforce have also released a whole bunch of new Trailhead modules that teach you all about it.
There are 4 new trails, 11 new modules and 11 new badges related to Lightning Experience. Not only that, but for the first time ever there are modules that are aimed at end-users of Salesforce, not just Developers and Administrators.
The new trails and there associated modules are as follows:
- Admin Trail – Migrating to Lightning Experience
- Admin Trail – Starting with Lightning Experience
- Developer Trail – Lightning Experience
- Sales Rep Trail – Using Lightning Experience
* This is not a new module, but it is still part of the new trails.
As you can see there is a huge amount of new content to get through (12 hours and 5 minutes according to Salesforce) and there is something for everyone.
I want to take a bit of time to focus on the Sales Rep Trail – Using Lightning Experience. This represents the first trail and the first module built for end-users. This is a big change for Salesforce as their existing documentation and training is not really geared towards end-users and is generally more focused on Developers and Administrators.
Opening up Trailhead to end-users is a really exciting prospect as it will allow Salesforce to build a whole range of interactive content to allow people to learn how to use the platform on their own and refresh their skills at regular intervals.
This new content will hopefully really empower end-users of the platform – especially people who have never used Salesforce before – and (assuming more end user focused modules are added in the future) allow end-users to become more self-sufficient in learning the platform and make them feel as though they don’t have to rely so heavily on platform specialists (such as myself, or their in-house Salesforce Administrator) for their training needs.
The Salesforce User Basics Module
The first module in the new trail focuses on gently introducing end-users to the platform and the concept of a CRM, it then starts to talk about some of the Salesforce standard objects and tying them back to the CRM concepts.
From there it moves on to briefly introducing all of the key features of the new UI.
- the Home page
- the Opportunity workspace (which is very, very cool)
- Accounts & Contacts
- the Board (with it’s live updating totals!)
- List Views
- Reports & Dashboards
Finally the module wraps up by explaining what a Salesforce Admin is and providing some guidance and best practices regarding on how to interact with them as an end-user. This section of the module is invaluable and even if you’re not new to Salesforce I recommend that you take a look at it. It’s all very simple stuff but guidelines and advice given will go a long way to make everyone involved in your Salesforce implementation’s lives easier and help them get what they want out of using the system.
The Salesforce User Tour Module
The second module of the new trail is based around giving end-users a proper introduction to the features of the new UI that were introduced in the first module. It starts off by going into detail about how to use and customise the new home page. It then moves on to explaining the new Account Insights feature which pulls information about your Accounts from all over the web into a single place so you don’t have to go searching for it.
The next section focuses on the main part of the Sales Rep’s job. Selling. It explains how the Lead process in Salesforce works and how to collaborate with other people in your organization using the power of Chatter, as well as the less exciting (but equally valuable) Tasks and Activities. It then goes in depth on the Opportunity Workspace and the new Board feature with all it’s drag-and-drop goodness.
If all that isn’t enough it finishes up with List Views and the new and improved Reports & Dashboards so end-users can see just how easy it is to view really powerful decision driving insights right on the platform.
Overall the new trail gives end-users a great overview of the main parts of the platform that they will interact with on a day-to-day basic and should bring them up-to-speed with how to use the interface and what each of the different objects within Salesforce represents fairly quickly.
Lightning Experience is very new and still quite raw in it’s current state, but it’s a tremendously exciting step in the right direction for Salesforce. The Salesforce Classic UI was starting to show it’s age a bit and Salesforce1 introduced us to the future, but didn’t let us have the same experience on desktop. Now it’s here and the future is looking awesome, there are a number of standard components available to start building apps using the new UI and I’m sure over the coming months ISVs will be working to make new and exciting ones available from the AppExchange as well. It’s an exciting time to be a Salesforce Developer.
As for Trailhead, you should already know from my previous post that I’m a big fan it as a learning platform and the move towards providing end-user training as well as training for Developers and Administrators is huge and I hope Salesforce keep adding to it as it’s an area with huge potential, especially for empowering new users of the platform.
Now, go watch the broadcast (if you missed it) and then go and earn those new badges (and learn some new exciting things in the process)!