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Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic: What Has Changed?

salesforce classic vs lightning comparison

With the appearance of new features or changes in the software functionality, there’s always a lot of hustle and bustle around it. The release of Salesforce Lightning was no exception. It was more than just the updates in the Salesforce Classic UX; it started transforming the user journey by offering a lighter and more intuitive interface. After appearing on the market in Summer 2015, and its later official presentation, it began slowly attracting the proponents. As for now, all the innovative decisions and implementations are made for the Lightning. Why has it become so widespread and what are the core distinctions in the Lightning vs. Classic Salesforce interfaces?

Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning Comparison

While the correct solution regarding which version you should adopt for your business is obvious and the modern design of Lightning seems to speak for itself, the benefits of Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic are much more substantial. So, here goes a more detailed features breakdown:

Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning Architecture

Lightning is using the Single Page Application model that reduces the time required for page loading. Unlike in the old version, the requests were served directly from the server. Previously, if a small change such as updating a profile was made, all the page was reloaded, while now, Ajax technology makes asynchronous calls so that only the part of the information that was changed is re-rendered and reflected in a user’s browser instead of having these never ending processes of ‘get-post’ requests circulating around. While sometimes users see it as a problem if the page does not start reloading instantly, it takes the load off the server. So, in this round of Classic vs. Lightning Salesforce battle, Lightning wins.

Dashboards and Interface Improvements

When it comes to the features present in both versions, such as knowledge functionality, Salesforce knowledge Classic vs. Lightning is different, too. In Lightning, it’s possible to operate on record types and validation rules without a need to create custom types separately every time. Also, file management underwent some changes, too. You no longer need to have it in the custom attachments in knowledge, but fetch them from the general file storage. In regards to the interface for core functionalities of the Home layout, it became possible to see the performance charts that would serve as a motivational factor for your employees, and have the assistant feature which will inform the team about the new work tasks assigned to them, see the overdue tasks and see the reminders not to miss anything important.

The account and contact tabs experienced some changes too, such as the ability to track the activity on a particular contact, add logos to the account pages to be able to differentiate the contacts that may come from the same company and enable internal users to see the news from their competitors, customers and peers. These features, unfortunately, are not present in Classic.

Speaking of some more features that the Classic version lacks in terms of opportunities and leads functionals, Salesforce added the features that allow users to customize the layout of the user workspace page, see the news and monitor the activity of the leads. Utilizing the power of these new features will help track the prospects of successful sales or project the behavior change.

To have a more detailed look at the changes, refer to the table below:

Home Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning

Accounts and contacts Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning

Leads Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning

opportunities Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic

Enhanced Protective Measures

When it comes to the contrast in Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic features, in terms of the security, the newer one is considered more reliable. In Classic mode, when you create a page, its components are separated from one another so that the risk of successful malicious attacks via uploading something in one component will not break the system. In addition, one good measure is taken for changing the access level. Once a user is entitled to additional rights, it will be necessary to log out and log in once again to make the changes apply. This function is especially useful in case unauthorized privileges are granted, as it will be easy to track the user by login logs.

Advanced Einstein Analytics Features

While both of the versions support Einstein Analytics, the supported range of features is much higher for Lightning. For instance, to make predictions and forecasts on future sales, you will need the help of opportunity and account insights that are not available for Classic. Regarding the reports’ visual representation, the former allows you to see dynamic data, meaning they are constantly updating. When we talk about the report look, the Lightning looks modern while the Classic looks like a design from the beginning of the 2000s. So, here, the choice of Salesforce Classic vs. Salesforce Lightning is obvious. Here is the overview of the Einstein features present for both interface versions:

Salesforce Einstein within Lightning vs. Classic

Dashboard Differences

Lightning makes it easier for users to navigate through the reports and data available in their accounts. When we speak of Salesforce Lightning Dashboard vs. Classic, the new version allows users to keep the same design and functionality of the dashboard regardless of the device you are accessing it from. Moreover, the Lightning app builder makes it easier to develop new pages, change the order, and present different components to make the page’s navigation and user experience smoother.

Dashboards comparison in Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic

Are there cases in the Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning debate where it’s worth choosing the Classic? Many opponents mention the inability to see the new edition right away, difficulty in working with Javascript and CSS as all the external components need to be specified additionally so the system can refer to them that complicates the development process and the issues with displaying certain languages (i.e Arabic) properly. However, in the long-run, all these nuances for sure will be reworked to facilitate the management process for all the users who choose Lightning.

Some proponents of the Classic versions may view the Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic difference in performance not convincing enough to make the switch where the main argument is the integration software support. It’s connected to the fact that AppExchange will not be able to comply with Lightning. However, the developers of these custom applications understand that the majority of users will be moving to Lightning, so the updates are ongoing, especially when it comes to paid applications. That’s natural, as the support of a new version would define the success of their product.

Last but not least, the investments: As for the Salesforce Lightning vs. Classic cost differences, they are absent, meaning you don’t need to pay to have the opportunity to enjoy the newer functionality.

It’s possible to talk about the Salesforce Lightning experience vs. Classic advantages in more than 50 pages describing all the unique and improved functionalities, but Salesforce did it for us, so once you consider your options, make sure to research the details.

Salesforce Lightning Experience vs. Сlassic: Final Word

In short, the most important thing to understand is that regardless of the numerous discussions and arguments as to what is better, Lightning vs. Salesforce Classic, the final decision was already made.

In January 2020, Salesforce enabled Lightning by default for all the organizations and officially announced that all the updates and new features will be applicable only in Lightning. So, it goes without saying that the Lightning experience is a clear champion in the battle between Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning. While the change is not coming instantly, the Classic experience is still available for users, though it’s advisable to consider migration if you plan to enjoy the fresh releases and updates.

So, when the choice of the Salesforce Classic vs. Lightning experience is no longer relevant, it’s worth planning the strategy for your company regarding how it should cope with the transition, as this may turn into a complicated process the same as any other major change.

During the transition, it’s worth paying attention to the native Salesforce features, and the ones that were achieved through additional incorporation. As for the latter, you will need to adjust the code basis because some additional development work would be required in this case.

For sure, it does not mean you need to do it right away if your company was using the older interface, but it’s better to plan the gradual transition towards Lightning. In order to avoid havoc, it’s possible to schedule the changes team by team so all your employees have enough time to get used to the new interface and its functions.

In case your company structure is complex and involves several editions or large data massiveities incorporated into the CRM system, the change may take longer and be more nuanced during the migration, but Salesforce offers its help implemented directly in your CRM. It’s the Lightning Experience Transition Assistant which helps to facilitate the upgrade. In addition, if you are afraid of the consequences it may bring to your team, it’s high time to start attending the webinars or engage Salesforce administrators to guide your members through the process.

And one last thing to remember: No change comes easily, but you shouldn’t shy away from it because they pave the way to a bright new future.

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Written by

Dmitriy Ogol

Experience in various CRM systems as Zoho, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Pipedrive helped to reach the right expertise level in the CRM systems, which, consequently, lead to significant Salesforce potential. So now, Dmitriy helps to create various solutions on the Salesforce platform.
Starting from 2008, Dmitriy helps in the development of CRM solutions for such industries as Real Estate, Marketing, Insurance and Healthcare.

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    Comments (4)

    • Alfred M Garcia

      The future of Classic is uncertain.
      Salesforce has not yet announced the date of the end of support for the classic interface.

    • Shelly Butts

      Salesforce is the best CRM on the market. Salesforce Classic had a simpler user interface and controls. Lightning, while effective, is more limited than Classic. But Einstein rules!

      • David Garrison

        If you refuse to go to the Salesforce Lightning, there is a probability that your team will fall behind

    • Robert Parks

      It has integrated the platform with Business Objects to create executive reports. It will take time and training to see its benefits. In my experience, the average user cannot predict the profit. Therefore, an initial organization-wide awareness campaign needs to show the benefits of the platform in the medium to long term.


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