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Salesforce Lightning Experience review: Salesforce has succeeded with its revamped CRM user interface

Charles Stevenson | Aug. 31, 2015
Salesforce has revealed its revamped Lightning Experience user interface - but how has it fared?

Salesforce has revealed its revamped Lightning Experience user interface - but how has it fared? ComputerworldUK's Charles Stevenson provides a first look review of Lightning Experience.

Salesforce unveiled the new desktop user interface for its core CRM platform in a live webcast earlier this week, known as 'Lightning Experience'. It is a dramatic overhaul of the look and feel of the world's leading CRM system and addresses criticisms that Salesforce had fallen behind rival CRM platforms in terms of visual appeal and ease of use.

Lightning Experience - which will be made available free of charge to customers as part of the next scheduled software release - has been described by Salesforce as the most significant update to the desktop interface in its 16-year history.

However it is not entirely new. Lightning Experience is a project that Salesforce has been working on since at least 2013, and we have already seen the technology on the company's mobile apps. So it is not surprising that the new desktop interface shares a lot of the visual features in common with the mobile experience.

The existing Salesforce desktop user interface is looking rather tired compared with more modern websites and mobile apps. Users' expectations have risen as enterprise apps have started to catch up with consumer-facing websites and apps. Consequently, the appearance of Salesforce seems to have fallen behind the best.

Salesforce Lightning Experience review: What's new?

Cosmetically, the Lightning Experience interface is much more modern looking, with a more flexible layout, and more emphasis on displaying information visually, rather than heavily relying on text and numbers.

salesforce lightning experience pic 1 Computerworld UK

Cosmetically, the Lightning Experience interface is much more modern looking, with a more flexible layout, and more emphasis on displaying information visually, rather than heavily relying on text and numbers.

But probably the most striking difference is that the whole interface is much more dynamic. In the old 'Classic' interface, each screen is essentially a static HTML web page, and generally only gets updated if the user refreshes the page. Lightning Experience screens, on the other hand, behave much more animatedly. For example, if you change a number the screen immediately updates any totals or charts, without you needing to reload the page.

As well as giving the interface a more modern appearance it allows more dynamic interactions such as drag and drop, animations and instant visual feedback.

Screens are more focused around what a user needs to do, so administrators can design layouts that bring relevant information into a single screen, rather than making users jump from page to page, which should help with productivity, as well as user training and adoption.

 

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