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Salesforce Lightning: The Complete Guide

Salesforce Lightning: The Complete Guide

By WalkMe Team

Salesforce Lightning is the next generation of Salesforce Classic – but what exactly does it have to offer? And should every organization make the leap?

In this complete guide to Salesforce Lightning, we will cover the powerful platform in detail.

To start with, let’s cover the basics:

Salesforce Lightning FAQ

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Salesforce Lightning.

What is Salesforce Lightning? 

In the words of Salesforce, Lightning is “a next-level experience, platform, and ecosystem.”

Salesforce Lightning is the next evolution of the renowned CRM, which introduces a new interface designed to help employees work faster and smarter.

However, the changes that come with Lightning Experience extend far beyond the interface.

With hundreds of new features — and more packed into each new release — this reimagined platform helps to dramatically increase user productivity.

Salesforce Classic vs. Salesforce Lightning: What are the benefits of migrating?

The integration of any new software tool opens up the risk of user frustration and lost productivity. But with a comprehensive approach to managing the transition, you can ensure your users achieve the many benefits the new platform has to offer. 

According to research by Salesforce, Lightning outperforms Classic on many fronts:

  • Lightning Experience has resulted in a 41% increase in user productivity 
  • Features such as Path and Guidance, which offer relevant guidance along custom sales flows, have improved conversion rates by 22% compared to Classic
  • Split View and similar features have boosted time-to-close by 23%
  • Einstein Search has improved search performance by 30%

These and other productivity gains demonstrate that when users are proficient, Salesforce Lightning can offer significant benefits over Salesforce Classic.

Who Is Salesforce Lightning designed for?

Salesforce Lightning is aimed at three main groups of users:

  • Business Users – Employees working in sales or service can boost their productivity and streamline their Salesforce workflows with Lightning. A host of new features have been developed specifically for business users (covered in more detail below).
  • Admins – Lightning is easy to customize, giving admins the opportunity to customize workflows, dashboards, and even build new apps without writing a single line of code.
  • Developers – Lightning has also been built with developers in mind. Lightning’s developer tools make it easy to build and customize apps that reinvent the way teams use Salesforce.

Each class of user will discover that Lightning offers a number of advantages to streamline workflows and day-to-day operations.

Later, we’ll discuss the features offered for each user group in more detail.

Should my organization migrate to Lightning?

The short answer is yes.

Given the benefits we have covered so far, Lightning will certainly pay for itself.

However, it is important to plan your migration strategically and systematically.

Just flipping the switch on any digital platform, regardless of how user-friendly it is, can cause disruption or chaos in the worst-case scenario.

Because Lightning and Classic have such different interfaces, organizations should plan their migration carefully, paying careful attention to employee onboarding and training.

White Paper: Best Practices for Salesforce Lightning Adoption Success

What are the drawbacks of Lightning migration?

The Lightning Experience delivers a better user experience, enhances productivity, and outperforms Salesforce Classic in many ways.

Despite the benefits, organizations that plan to adopt new digital tools or make a major transition should pay mind to the obstacles ahead of them, such as:

  • Training Time – The learning curve of the new platform
  • Training Effectiveness – How to get the best results from employee training, cost-effectively and quickly
  • Platform Utilization – How to ensure employees use the tool’s full range of capabilities

Lightning will certainly be a new experience for those used to Salesforce Classic. 

However, with the right strategy, the aforementioned drawbacks can be mitigated or even avoided completely. That’s why you need an effective approach to onboarding and training. 

Salesforce Lightning features for business users

Business users are the end-users of Salesforce lightning, such as sales representatives and service representatives.

Salesforce Lightning offers a number of features that can help improve employees’ day-to-day experience as well as their performance.

salesforce lightning

Here are some of the features designed for Lightning’s business users.

Opportunity Workspace

The Opportunity Workspace is a one-stop dashboard for sales representatives.

It highlights the most important information about contacts and offers easy access to related information, such as contacts, products, and notes. 

Path and Guidance

Path is a feature that lays out a sales workflow step by step.

Together, Path and Guidance offer business users key information, links, and tips at each stage, helping to maximize productivity and conversion rates.


Now, almost any list view can be viewed as a kanban board.

The kanban view makes it easy to visualize, reorganize, and sort virtually any workflow or pipeline.

List View also makes it simple to create, edit, search for, and filter specific List Views.

Lightning Console Apps

Lightning Console Apps allow users to edit and reference records quickly and easily.

These console apps have many of the same features from Classic – such as the 3-column layout and pinned tabs – but with added flexibility and functionality.

Split View

Split View is ideal for multi-tasking. 

Users can work faster and more efficiently with Split View, which keeps a List View open in one pane. This makes it ideal for staying in context while working through a list of leads, follow-ups, or calls.

Einstein Search

Einstein Search is an AI-powered search function that helps users find what they are looking for even faster.

Typeahead predicts user searches before they even finish typing. Spell Correction automatically delivers spell-corrected results, ignoring spelling errors and typos. And if users already know what they are looking for, they can restrict their search scope to a specific type of object.

Lightning Dialer

Lightning Dialer allows users to make and receive calls quickly and easily, right inside Salesforce.

It also includes time-saving features, such as pre-recorded voicemails: a single click allows representatives to “drop” a call onto an entire list and leave voicemails for multiple contacts simultaneously.

Utility Bar

With Lightning’s convenient Utility Bar, business users can add key components that stick around.

Located at the bottom of the page, each bar can be customized to a specific app. 

Different teams have different needs, so the Utility Bar adds convenience to any workflow.

Quick Actions

Along with the Docked Composer, Global Quick Actions lets users perform a specified action no matter what they’re working on.

With Quick Actions, multi-tasking is a breeze in any page that supports actions, such as the Home Page or the Chatter tab.

Integrated Email

Users can easily send email from anywhere within Lightning, further streamlining users’ workflows.

Also, Lightning for Gmail brings Lightning apps right into Gmail’s side panel.


Favorites give users instant access to their most-used records, lists, Salesforce pages, and more.

Along with the other time-saving features covered here, Lightning’s Favorites function is designed to help users work faster and more efficiently.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Another way to dramatically speed up the day-to-day workflow is with Lightning’s Keyboard Shortcuts.

To see Lightning’s shortcuts, simply press Ctrl + /.

Reports and Dashboards

Reports and Dashboards deliver visual data on demand. 

In Lightning, an array of enhancements helps users better understand this data, inform decisions, and improve collaboration.

Animations, interactivity, an improved dashboard editor, and other features all add on to the capabilities of Salesforce Classic … while still inheriting the same sharing settings and permissions.

Salesforce Einstein

Lightning’s AI functionality can score leads, analyze emails, make intelligent recommendations, and much more.

Correctly applying these features can shoot team productivity through the roof, allowing employees to make better decisions in less time.

Create formulas with string values without using the SAQL editor👇

Where👉 Applies to Einstein Analytics in Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic.
How👉 Edit a column and enter your string formula.
For more👉 #Winter20

— Salesforce Success Cloud (@asksalesforce) October 7, 2019

Salesforce Lightning features for admins

Administrators can customize Salesforce Lightning to meet the needs of the organization and their teams, without writing any code.

Here are a few features specifically designed for admins:

Lightning App Builder

The Lightning App Builder is a no-code app builder that gives admins control over Salesforce pages.

It is easy to combine standard components – as well as custom or third-party components – onto a single page. 

Lightning Page Templates

Page templates come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all of which can be further customized to meet employee needs.

Developers can even create their own Custom Lightning Page Templates, providing them with even more power and flexibility over their Salesforce implementation.

Lightning Components

Components are reusable, self-contained functional units that comprise apps.

Admins can combine these components into apps as they see fit, without requiring any programming.

Dynamic Lightning Pages

With the Lightning App Builder, admins can add conditional logic to a page.

They can fine-tune pages and workflows to fit the needs of their organization — filtering out information that fails to meet certain criteria, adding conditions that determine what is displayed, and so on.

Lightning Community Builders and Templates

Lightning components can be used to build and customize community pages, just as they can be used to build ordinary pages.

Like the Lightning App Builder, the Lightning Community Builder is code-free, allowing admins to create communities within a user-friendly GUI.

Lightning Service Setup

Setup can be a challenge, but Lightning Service Setup streamlines that process.

It includes straightforward setup flows, a performance metrics dashboard, and more.

Salesforce Lightning features for developers

Developers can design fully customizable apps for any business scenario. 

With Lightning’s straightforward frameworks, it is easier than ever to build, test, and deploy new apps.

Here are a few features that Lightning has built to make developers’ lives easier:

Lightning Design System

Lightning’s easy-to-use UX components help front-end developers and designers create apps that are modern, professional, and consistent with the Salesforce design system.

Using Lightning’s CSS framework, it is easy to create apps that deliver seamless experiences for the end-user.

Lightning Components

Base Lightning Components are the building blocks for any app, mobile or desktop.

Each component includes built-in JavaScript and logic, as well as markup and classes to keep these components consistent with the Lightning Experience.

Lightning Data Service

Lightning Data Service removes the need for Apex code, while simultaneously improving data performance.

Records serving components are cached on the client side and only served once, no matter how many components access that record.

This improves performance dramatically, as well as the end user’s experience.

Custom Page Templates

Custom Page Templates give developers the power to build Page Templates that meet the needs of organizations, admins, and business users.

These custom templates are made accessible through the Lightning App Builder’s page wizard.

Lightning Testing Service

Component-level testing allows developers to test components as they build them.

JavaScript testing frameworks such as Mocha and Jasmine come pre-supported. 

The right migration strategy is key to benefiting from these features

When reviewing all of the features mentioned so far, it is clear that Lightning is a big step forward in terms of design and functionality.

Also, we have seen that Lightning can deliver significant benefits to organizations as well as individual employees.

Why then are so many businesses hesitant to adopt Lightning?

It may have to do with the inevitable challenges to adoption – learning curves, training costs, and uncertain returns.

However, the right migration strategy can accelerate training, boost productivity, and ensure organizations maximize the returns from their Lightning investment.

From the drawing board to reality: Making the migration to Salesforce Lightning

As with any other organizational change, digital adoption and migration efforts require a strategy and an action plan.

Having the right digital adoption strategy offers benefits such as:

  • More effective onboarding and training
  • A better user experience and less frustration
  • Decreased time to competency and greater productivity

In this blog on @salesforce, Kristi Lundgren shares how to empower employees to deliver better constituent experiences with Lightning #Apps.

— Salesforce for Government (@SalesforceGov) October 26, 2019

Below is a step-by-step plan that can help businesses transition to Lightning with minimal disruption and maximum results.

1. Learn about Salesforce Lightning

The very first aim should be understanding Lightning.

That is, anyone involved in the project should learn:

  • Its key features and functions
  • How Lightning is different from Classic
  • How to use it productively 
  • The benefits of the new platform – both for individual users and the organization

In other words, it is important to understand what an organization stands to gain from using it.

2. Obtain executive sponsorship

Executive sponsorship is critical for the success of many business projects, including software migrations.

The best way to earn executive support is by making an open-and-shut case for the adoption project.

A solid business case would emphasize:

  • The benefits for the organization. How will successful Lightning migration boost the bottom line? Executives and business leaders want to understand the tangible benefits of undertaking the transition. The Salesforce statistics mentioned above, such as productivity improvements, can be very useful when building a case.
  • How users will benefit. Individual benefits, such as a better work experience and performance improvements, will positively affect the organizational climate. After all, the digital workflow is an integral part of the employee experience. Better workplace experiences also contribute to many other benefits, such as greater employee engagement, satisfaction, and performance.
  • The need for effective onboarding, training, and adoption. As we have seen Salesforce Lightning and Salesforce Classic are two different platforms. They share many of the same underlying functionality. But Lightning introduces a new interface as well as a host of new features, making strategic training and adoption a necessity.

Topics such as these can help make the case for the bottom-line business value of the migration, which is the main concern for many business leaders. 

3. Assess readiness

It’s important to assess the current state of your Salesforce processes and user abilities before diving into the transition. 

Here are a few boxes to check off during this stage:

  • Gap analysis. From the Salesforce Classic setup menu, click Get Started in the Migration Assistant tile. Clicking Check Readiness in the Migration Assistant will begin the gap analysis and tell you if you need to implement workarounds or changes before migrating.
  • A Salesforce Optimizer report. Salesforce Optimizer generates a report specific to each Salesforce implementation, offering recommendations on how to improve feature use, clean up customizations, and simplify unnecessary complexity.
  • Change readiness. How ready is the workforce for a new tool or workflow? Employees often resist change, which can slow down digital adoption, increase costs, and depress productivity. Understanding employees’ attitudes towards change is essential and can help with developing a better communication strategy.
  • Digital adoption tools. The right digital adoption tools can significantly improve digital adoption and migration projects. For example, Digital Adoption Platforms, covered below, are innovative employee training, guidance, automation, and analytics tools that can accelerate competency and simplify the digital experience.

Once these areas are addressed, it is time to design a “rollout roadmap.”

4. Plan the rollout

salesforce implementation

Software rollouts are typically done in one of two ways:

  • All at once. Organization-wide rollouts transition the entire organization at the same time. These can be more straightforward because trainers need to design and execute a single training program. However, they require more preparation and require more support. They are a bit riskier and can create delays or build up technical debt.
  • Phased. Phased rollouts occur incrementally, one team or department at a time. The advantage to a phased approach is that trainers can run pilot tests, learn from each subsequent phase of the rollout, then incorporate that information as the project progresses. However, trainers and change managers must manage the project more closely, since they are designing it as they go.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each approach.

Which one an organization chooses will depend on the needs and priorities of the business, the employees, and the information collected in the previous steps.

5. Set goals and metrics

Managers, trainers, and business leaders should work together to create goals and define metrics.

Here are a few tips for setting the right goals:

  • Understand the current weak points. These are areas that need improvement or processes that can become more effective with Salesforce Lightning. They can range from employee performance to customer communication.
  • Set achievable, clear goals. Setting goals can be difficult, especially with brand-new platforms such as Salesforce Lightning. However, once trainers and super users understand the platform’s potential, it is worthwhile to set and pursue specific targets.
  • Assign appropriate metrics. Metrics should be defined by their goals. If employee performance is a concern, for instance, then good metrics to track can include the number of calls logged, conversion rates, sales quotas, and so on. 

Metrics are important both during and after the rollout because they keep managers and admins in touch with employees, customers, and the overall health of the migration.

6. Enlist and train champions

Superusers, admins, and other select employees can act as champions for the Lightning rollout.

To make the most of these champions, managers should train them early, listen to their feedback, and enlist their help throughout the migration.

Champions can assist in a few ways:

  • Providing early feedback. If they are given early exposure to Lightning, they can offer input and ideas before the actual rollout. 
  • Supporting teams. Champions can also help support their fellow coworkers through online communities, or simply by being leaders in the field.
  • Assisting with training and onboarding. Champions can tackle many training issues before they escalate into technical support calls, which keeps training costs down and streamlines the adoption process.

When assigning these roles, it is important to communicate clearly to employees. 

They should know who the super users are, as well as what procedures to follow when seeking support.

7. Create a communications strategy

salesforce lightning

A good communications strategy is paramount to the success of any digital adoption program.

After all, employees are the driving force behind any adoption project — earning their support is a must.

Here are a few ways that communication can help:

  • Clarify the purpose of the project.Addressing the “why” of any project goes a long way towards earning employee support. It adds meaning and purpose to the project, two psychological factors that play a large role in employee engagement and the employee experience.
  • Explain roles, responsibilities, procedures, timelines, and other key information. When employees understand this essential information about what the transition will look like and how it will affect them, they will better understand their roles and the expected outcomes. Having this information will further decrease friction and help all parties stay in sync.
  • Sell employees on the benefits of Lightning. Everyone always wants to know what’s in it for them. Selling employees on the personal benefits of the new platform can have a significant impact on their motivation and willingness to learn.
  • Improve employee motivation and performance. A communications plan should keep everyone on the same page, as mentioned. But communications strategies can do more than clarify expectations. They can also help you maximize buy-in and participation. This, in turn, will boost motivation, productivity, and performance.

Without an effective communications strategy, small hindrances from employees can easily expand into large obstacles that block progress.

8. Design your training program

User training directly affects how much your users adopt the platform, which has a direct impact on key metrics, such as productivity and ROI.

Effective digital training programs should focus on areas such as:

  • Decreasing time-to-competency. Training programs should strive to maximize competency in as little time as possible. Not only does this positively affect employee productivity, it also improves the onboarding experience. Because users spend less time being uncertain about their skills, fears related to competency are less likely to build into resistance.
  • A streamlined user experience. The user experience impacts engagement, regardless of whether those users are customers or employees. Simplifying and streamlining that experience helps to reduce cognitive load, user frustration, and burnout. 
  • Maximizing skill levels, as well as platform utilization. When user proficiency plateaus, their productivity levels also plateau. And when a platform is only partially utilized, only part of its value is realized. To truly add value to the bottom line, a workforce should be proficient and use a platform to its fullest extent.
  • Tools and techniques. Training methods and techniques make a big difference in how effective the program is. When it comes to software skills, for instance, contextualized training outperforms the vast majority of other techniques (see below to learn how Digital Adoption Platforms boost employee competency with context-based guidance).

Because training has such a large impact on employee performance, managers should make it a focal point during the Lightning migration process.

White Paper: Best Practices for Salesforce Lightning Adoption Success

9. Launch

Finally, after all of the other preparations have been completed, it’s time to launch Salesforce Lightning.

As mentioned above, the style of the launch will depend on whether you roll out all at once or in stages. 

However, once you begin the transition, it’s important to keep tabs on users and the progress of the project.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the rollout, onboarding, and training:

  • Choose the right launch time. Generally speaking, holidays and other busy periods are not the best time to launch a new program or initiative. Good launch times can include company meetings, low seasons, and so forth.
  • Develop and stick to a project schedule. Key dates can include the official launch date, course completion deadlines, as well as other important goals and deadlines. 
  • Stay engaged with champions. Champions, advocates, and super users, mentioned above, are the link between management and Lightning users. They can provide continual feedback, status updates, and ideas, throughout the migration period.
  • Connect with employees. Surveys and polls can be distributed quickly and easily, either through a Salesforce app, through Chatter, or through one of many other survey apps. Feedback that comes straight from employees can help gauge sentiment, identify roadblocks, and more.
  • Stay focused on onboarding and training. As mentioned, onboarding and training efforts are central to digital adoption and migration programs. If onboarding and training don’t deliver, then users are more likely to become discouraged, hampering their productivity.

Software migration and digital adoption efforts are like other business projects — those that are well-structured, well-managed, and sophisticated will perform best.

10. Optimize

Salesforce Lightning migration has the potential for a high reward for your users and bottom line. Achieving the best possible outcome requires an ongoing effort to refine the strategy.

Optimization can include just a few simple steps, such as these:

  • Measure. As mentioned above, metrics are critical to staying in sync with the progress and health of the migration. 
  • Learn. Metrics and feedback can indicate what is working, what is not, and when a change of direction is warranted.
  • Adjust. Make course corrections when needed – these can include changing tactics, adding or adjusting goals, adding new training material, and so forth.

When it comes to any project involving change, the most important trait to have is adaptability.

Agility and adaptability will help managers stay responsive in real-time, reducing the risk of unforeseen obstacles or miscalculations.

How WalkMe enables Lightning migration at the speed of light

With WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform, migrating to Salesforce Lightning can be fast, efficient, and productive.

.@Adobe created an elegant solution to scaling their #Salesforce performance support!

— WalkMe (@WalkMeInc) July 17, 2019

WalkMe’s innovative training platform can help Salesforce users be productive in Lightning … starting from day one.

The DAP provides onscreen contextualized guidance that walk users through processes step-by-step, so employees can complete processes efficiently, even if it’s completely unfamiliar. 

On top of that, the DAP provides detailed insights on user behavior to managers and trainers can pinpoint exactly where users need extra support. 

Here’s a more specific breakdown of the benefits of using WalkMe for Salesforce Lightning migration:

  • Accelerated training and time-to-competency. With interactive, on-screen guidance, users can complete complex tasks easily and efficiently. Because they no longer need to stop, ask questions, perform research, or request support, employees become more proficient in much less time. 
  • A simplified user experience. Any new platform can be intimidating and confusing. WalkMe’s training solution prevents complex software from overwhelming users by keeping them focused only on the actions they need to take. 
  • A streamlined digital workplace. When employees work seamlessly with their tools, the rest of their work environment improves. Workflows become more efficient, teams work more efficiently, and productivity is maximized
  • Insight into software use and training needs. WalkMe’s analytics help organizations understand how people interact with their tools. Trainers can use this data to enhance their training programs, improve WalkThrus, and implement corrective action as needed.
  • Enhanced proficiency, productivity, and performance. One of the most fundamental benefits of using WalkMe is boosted employee productivity. Users are trained automatically and efficiently, beyond the point where their skill levels might otherwise plateau. This helps each and every user become more productive and add more value to a business.
  • More extensive utilization of Lightning’s capabilities. Salesforce Lightning comes packed with countless new features and tools. But if employees don’t know what those features are or how to use them, then that potential will remain untapped. Businesses can get around this problem by using WalkMe to promote specific features and functions.
  • A greater return on the investment. WalkMe helps organizations earn larger returns from their Lightning investment. Users learn more quickly, overall expertise increases, and the Lightning platform itself delivers more of its potential value.

Using WalkMe for Salesforce Lightning adoption is one of the best ways to onboard, train, and upskill Salesforce users.

If your organization wants to streamline the migration to Lightning and maximize their Salesforce ROI, schedule a WalkMe demo today.


WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.