Exciting Developments in Lightning Communities (now Experiences)

When I first migrated our legacy Salesforce Tabs + Visualforce Community to a Salesforce Lightning Community in 2019, there were a few areas that were cause for work around. I’m happy to say many of those things have been greatly improved just two years later. One of the beauties of Salesforce is the constant evolution (3x per year).

The Nav Bar

The Nav Bar two years ago was a problem. I was on a mission to create a combined Partner + Customer Community, which in many areas worked seamlessly with Audiences. Audiences is a way to show or hide components to specific audiences based on certain criteria: Location, Permission (think Custom Permission you can create and assign to a Permission Set – the possibilities are endless), User Profile, or User Attribute. Think a custom field on this one that you can yield to your will. There are many clever ways you can utilize audiences in your community to show the right content to the right users. Most importantly, not show users things they should NOT see.

One limitation when it came to audiences was previously the Nav Bar. You could previously only have one Nav Bar, so you had to use some clever tactics if you wanted to hide a tab, like Chatter Groups for instance, that everyone has access to see. The work around was to add an audience at the page level, so that uses didn’t see an audience they weren’t supposed to see.

This has improved recently, as you can now create unique nav bars for different audiences:

The improvement I hope to see in the near future is the ability to audience individual tabs within the same Nav Bar. Right now, even if only one tab is different, you would have to create all the tabs plus the additional ones in the nav bar variation, so you could see how that could still become quite cumbersome to manage changes.

The Tile Menu Component

I love the tile menu as it gives you a very sleek design declaratively. You are able to add images that fit your branding, but the previous limitation was that you couldn’t create variations. You would need another full tile menu on your page to manage. Now you can have variations similar to the Nav Bar which is a big improvement. I was able to add an additional tile for a specific audience with a variation. Of course, the limitation currently is also the same. You have to recreate the entire Tile Menu. Hopefully, a similar improvement will ultimately come for the tile menu as well to be able to assign unique audiences to individual tiles within the component.

The other improvement that was recently released for this component was the ability to change the look and feel. It was previously just squared off tiles, but I prefer the rounded edges as pictured above. There are also other tweaks you can make now to where and how your labels are presented.


Previously, access to the Experience Builder was an all or nothing thing, so if someone had access to the builder, they could publish at will. Now, we have the concept of ‘Contributors’. You can assign certain users 4 levels of access to the Experience Builder.

Here are the definitions below from: https://help.salesforce.com/articleView?id=sf.networks_access_control_overview.htm&type=5

It is important to research permissions in the community closely and do thorough testing. Giving user the permission ‘Manage Experiences’ for example opens up the ability to change all your community topics, including Navigational Topics. This is not clearly defined in the definition of this permission. I call this out because you could inadvertently give someone a permission that gives them more than what they need to do their job. An untrained user could end up changing something that could affect your entire site without realizing it. You should only ever give just enough permissions for people to do their jobs.

What I would like to see in the future is the ability to give certain users edit rights to only particular components. That would enable you to have someone outside of the admin team manage particular components they are responsible for, without having to give them the keys to the entire kingdom.

Publishing Changes

Back in my day 😉 – when you published your community, your only option was to publish the entire community. Luckily, I was the sole owner of our community for the most part, so I didn’t have to worry about whether someone else had changed something else in the community recently that they didn’t want published. However, you could see how this could become a problem quickly, if you had multiple people managing config changes for the same community.

Recently, Salesforce introduced the ExperienceBundle. The ExperienceBundle is a metadata type that allows you to programmatically deploy sites using VS Code or other IDE. This also means you can deploy individual pages rather than always being tied to publishing the entire site when you’ve only changed one component.

You can find out more on this here: https://developer.salesforce.com/docs/atlas.en-us.communities_dev.meta/communities_dev/communities_dev_migrate_expbundle.htm

I’ll close this blog by just saying that I love the ever expanding suite of options in Salesforce Experience Cloud as there is always something new to learn. I am having a hard time breaking away from calling it Lightning Communities, so forgive me. See y’all again soon!

Intro to Lightning App Builder and Standard Components

Lightning App Builder gives you much more flexibility to what your users see than your classic page layout.

There are many Standard Components to choose from or you can create custom Lightning Components to use in your org. This discussion will be focused on the Standard Components and the flexibility they provide to your Lightning Record Pages.

You can access Lightning App Builder from Setup –> Lightning App Builder and access your individual Lightning Record Pages you’ve created or you can access the Lightning Record Page for the exact page you want to edit from the record itself. For example, navigate to a Case record in Lighting and click on the Gear icon in the upper right and select ‘Edit Page’ to open Lightning App Builder/the Lightning Record Page applicable to that Case record. Note: if you have multiple Lightning Record Pages for the same object, the one that will open is the one you are currently viewing.

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You will see a plethora of options on the left for Standard Components. I’ll walk through a few of my favorites and how to use them to their fullest potential.

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These are a few of my favorite things “Components”:

Related Record Component:

This component may be my favorite in terms of giving you flexibility to pull in fields outside your page layout. When Dynamic Forms is GA and available on Standard Objects, I’ll be excited to use Dynamic Forms to give my Lightning Record Pages additional flexibility in what surface, but for now the Related Record Component allows you to surface, yes, related records but so much more…

For instance, I have used this to highlight important fields from the Case Object for particular teams on the Case Lightning Record Page that fall outside of the Case Page Layout. I can use this component instead of needing additional record types or profiles to manage. Instead, I can use the same Service Cloud Profile and singularly record type, yet still have the flexibility to highlight key fields to the teams that need them under the Service Cloud umbrella.

To create a specific Related Record set of fields to use on your Lightning Record Page, first navigate to the object in question in Setup –> Click Buttons, Links, and Actions –> Click New Action:

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Choose ‘Update a Record’ as the Action Type:Screen Shot 2020-08-01 at 11.27.19 AM

Choose the fields you want to include in your action and hit Save:

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Now your action will be available as an option when you add the Related Record Component to your Lightning Record Page:

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To add additional flexibility, you can add filters to your component visibility to limit who can see the component or show the component only when certain criteria is met.

Set Criteria in the ‘Set Component Visibility’ section at the bottom of what you can configure for the component.

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Filter a component to only show when criteria are met. Similarly throughout Salesforce, you can have it surface when all criteria are met, when any of the criteria are met, or when custom criteria are met (AND or OR/more complex logic):

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Filter a component to show for only certain users:

Advanced –> User:

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Select from User Fields to use in your criteria including Profile and Role:

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Add Advanced Logic, if needed:

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Flow Component:

Easily drag the flow component onto your Lightning Record Page and select the flow you want to bring onto the page, configure any Component Visibility you need, and voila!

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Highlights Panel Component:

The Highlights Panel lets you bring in fields you want to highlight about your record, right at the top of the page. This is one of my favorites because it lets your users see important information at a glance:

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This is configured in Setup under the object you wish you configure –> select ‘Compact Layouts’ and select the Compact Layout you wish to edit. System Default is there to start, which you can Clone and Edit to create your own and assign it to your users.

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Note: While you can include up to 10 fields in your Compact Layout, fewer fields may show up for the user if they are on a laptop vs. using a monitor to view. Learned this one the hard way! It’s also important to note that the following field types are not supported for Compact Layouts: text areas, long text areas, rich text areas, or multi-select picklists (Source: Trailhead Module). My advice is to consult with your Ops teams or designated business owners to pull in the most relevant and high value fields for Sales, Service, Marketing, etc. depending on the object.

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If you created a new Compact Layout and want to use it, be sure to click ‘Compact Layout Assignment’ on the right to set it as the Primary Compact Layout.

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Hopefully, this gives you a glimpse into the enormous world that Lightning and the Standard Components alone open up to you in terms of flexibility of configuration for your users. Much more fun to come with Lightning configuration in the coming months.

Dive Into How Configuration of Pages and Apps is Different in Lightning Experience

In thinking about the Salesforce Lightning Experience UI (LEX) from an Admin perspective, there are key differences from the Classic UI that are important to highlight. In this post I’ll review the difference between the ‘Lightning App Builder’ and ‘App Manager’ in the Lightning setup menu and how I remember the distinction between the two. In addition, I will review what is different in terms of configuring Page Layouts. If you are used to configuring in Classic, then you are probably used to Record Types and Page Layouts; however, in Lightning, enter the Lightning Record Page to manage as well. I will dive into how you can think about this new piece to your layout puzzle and the cool new capabilities that Lightning Record Pages offer you.

Lightning App Builder vs. App Manager. These sound basically the same, but one manages your app pages and one manages your apps…huh?!

Lightning App Builder is where you ‘build’ your individual Lightning Record pages:
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App Manager is where you ‘manage’ and create your Salesforce apps as you are used to thinking about them:
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How about Record Types, Page Layouts, and Lightning Record Pages. Page Layouts are the collection of fields your user will see when they look at an individual record in Salesforce. This is assigned at the Profile Level, so you can vary the Page Layout assigned by Profile. In other words, on an individual record one user could see a completely different collection of fields than the next. Even if they have the same Page Layout assigned, if their profile or permission sets do not give them access to an individual field, they may not see all the fields on the Page Layout.

Then you layer on Record Types. Record Types allow you to vary separate business processes under the same object. Using a simple example, you may have different ways of selling Hardware vs. Software on Opportunities, with different Stages of the sales process and different values available in your Picklist fields. A new Record Type is the way to solve for this. It is important to note that it is best practice not to overuse Record Types as this creates additional overhead from an administration perspective. Along with your new Record Type, you will likely have at least one new Page Layout to manage, and could have multiple, depending if different Profiles need to see different layouts.

When you move to Lightning, you now have this third piece to consider, the Lightning Record Page. This does not replace Page Layouts and Record Types. You can instead think of this as a supplement to give you additional flexibility. The Lightning Record Page is a grouping of components, both custom and native, that ultimately are the page that your end users will see. Your Page Layout will only be one piece of what your end users see on the overall Lightning Record Page. My next post will cover how you can utilize these components to the fullest to surface what your users need to see when they need to see it.

Get Excited About Lightning Experience!

Change is hard, but if everything stayed the same, we would never grow.

Salesforce released a fresh and modern looking user interface called Lightning Experience in 2015, but most businesses didn’t make the switch to the new UI right away, and instead chose to remain in the Classic UI. Many of us were held back from a full Lightning launch because of dealbreaker features missing. It has taken a few years to get the Lightning UI close to parity with the Classic UI, but if you’ve been keeping track of what’s been in recent releases, switching to Lightning is looking like more of a should than a could.

As many of you know, Salesforce does three major releases per year, and you may have noticed that the major innovations in those releases have been in Lightning: Einstein (AI) Opportunity & Account Insights, Einstein Activity Capture, Einstein Automated Contacts, the Kanban view on List Views for almost any Object, Path for Standard and Custom Objects, Key Fields and Guidance for Success, Highlights Panel, Favorites (goodbye Chrome bookmarks), Smart Search, Utility Bar, Homepage Assistant, News, user customizable Navigation Bar. I have noticed that many of these new features even get unexcitable end users excited about Salesforce! I could go on and on about these new features, but I’ll just give you some visuals to hopefully get you invigorated or reinvigorated about the idea of Salesforce Lightning.

Kanban view on List Views for almost any Object:

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Kanban view (drag and drop to new stages/status in the Kanban view as long as validation rule & required field/criteria are met)

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Path for Standard and Custom Objects. Highlight Key Fields that are essential for that stage/status (dependent picklist functionality gap was resolved in Summer ’18). Guidance for Success is another cool feature of path, a great use case is giving Sales links to documentation they need or training tools.

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Highlights Panel. This is an excellent way to highlight key fields at the top of any object (up to 6 including your top level Opportunity Name in the example below). No more scrolling for days to find frequently consulted fields.

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Favorites! There are so many things to favorite and so little time: list views, reports, dashboards, any record, chatter group, calendar. You can organize them, remove those you do not need anymore, etc. Just hit the star, wherever you are, and make a favorite.

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Smart Search. Select your object first to make your search work for you (Summer ’18 release). This is also handy for searching for reports/dashboards since there is no search bar inside Reports in Lightning like there was in Classic.

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Utility Bar is built through the App Manager. If configured, it is a fixed footer that can be used to to boost productivity (think Macros, History, Chatter Feed, and so much more).

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To this day, there are still some gaps between the two interfaces, but more businesses are feeling comfortable with making the switch. Salesforce has also invested heavily in demystifying Lightning for Admins and Developers, not only with Trailhead but also the Lightning NOW tour across many major cities with *free* full day training for Admins and Developers on the Lightning UI.  In fact, after much communication, preparation, and configuration, we released Lightning at RetailMeNot in June, and as of today, almost all our Salesforce users are Lightning enabled in Production.

I’ll admit the new Lightning UI was a little intimidating at first because there are some differences in how you have to think about configuration. Firstly, there is this alien ‘Lightning App Builder’ that is confusing at first, not to mention the ‘App Manager’. Yes, those are totally different things!


Record Types vs. Page Layouts

When I was first learning Salesforce, I feel like Record Types vs. Page Layouts was glossed over pretty quickly, so I thought maybe breaking it down in the way that I found useful could help others on their learning path.

I think it’s easiest to think of Record Type first in terms of record creation. When you create a new record (i.e. a new Opportunity, a new Case, etc.), and you have access to more than one Record Type, you will get an option page that pops up to have you select the ‘type of record’ you wish you create (pictured).

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Each of these Record Types can have multiple Page Layouts associated to it, but each Profile will only have one Page Layout assigned/viewable per Record Type. For example, if I am on the Customer Support team, and I am assigned to the ‘Customer Support’ profile, then I will always see the same arrangement of fields and related lists (Page Layout) on every ‘Internal Requests” Case Record Type I am viewing.

Your Record Types are the foundation of the ‘type’ of Object (Object being Opportunity, Case, Account, etc.), meaning I have Cases of type = ‘Customer Requests’ vs ‘Internal Requests’ in the example pictured above. One of the big things you can do with different record types is vary your picklist values (on picklist fields) and have different Support Process (Cases), Sales Process (Opportunities), and Lead Process (Leads) statuses. Your Support Process in Cases are the statuses your Case will go through: New, Working, Resolved, Closed, etc. These can vary depending on the Record Type, and a new Record Type is the only way you can have a different Support Process, Sales Process, or Lead Process.

In creating a new Record Type, you will want to make sure that is warranted: do different teams work these, do they need different picklist values visible on fields, or do they follow a unique process (in terms of status changes)? If you just need a particular Profile to see different fields, then you may just need a different Page Layout or even use Field Level Security to limit visibility of fields on the same Page Layout. Think about whether this is truly a different kind of Case, Opportunity, Account, etc. Do you have different types of Cases needed or do you just need a different page layout for the same type of Cases for different people?

Break it down:

  1. Different Profiles have access to different record types (which types of cases can you create and edit?).
  2. Note, that all Profiles with access to an Object can view all Record Types, but cannot necessarily edit or create records of that Record Type.
  3. Different Profiles have access to different page layouts (You may see different fields and related lists on the same Record Type based on your Page Layout assignments at the Profile level. You cannot use Permission Sets to assign a Page Layout.
  4. For each Record Type and Page Layout combination, you have one Page Layout assignment per Profile. In other words, each person can only have access to one Page Layout per Record Type of a particular Object.

I’m super excited to build out this blog and hopefully help others on their journey in the Salesforce ecosystem. I welcome all feedback and questions as well!

The Purposeful Admin

Hi, my name is Lindsey Fivecoat, and I love Salesforce! As my dear friend Martin told me, how to succeed in Salesforce Fivecoat style: fall in love with Salesforce, never stop learning, and become a Salesforce swag hag (truth).  I’m not going to tell you an accidental admin story, I will explain to you how I purposefully chose to dive into the platform and find my way to professional happiness at a level I didn’t know was possible.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a professional singer. Instead, I graduated from The University of Texas with a Liberal Arts degree, a 4.0 GPA, and not a single clue what I wanted to do with my life. I’ll be honest, I floundered for a little while.

I first met my friend Ezra Kenigsberg in 2012, and that was the first time I was introduced to Salesforce. Ezra is a brilliant Salesforce architect, and when I met him, I had no idea what Salesforce or an architect was outside of building things in the physical world. We just happened to live in the same apartment building briefly, but he spoke so passionately about the platform that it really stuck with me. I didn’t see Ezra for nearly a year, but in 2013, I was very fortunate to be hired on in an HR & Recruiting role at a tech company called Bazaarvoice. I walked in on my first week, and who did appear, but Ezra. I did not have the confidence at that time to even fathom that I could consider a career in the technical space.

I continued to grow in my career at Bazaarvoice, being promoted to team lead and then manager, but something was missing. I started to notice that I was happiest when I was working on technical projects: helping with large Workday HRIS projects to overhaul our onboarding and automate manual payroll practices. I came back to Salesforce. I used it as an end user, and something finally clicked that maybe I could give this Salesforce Admin thing a go.

In early 2016, I started researching how I could grasp this mystical cloud creature they call Salesforce. I stumbled upon Mike Wheeler’s courses on Udemy and I was off. I was able to go at my own pace in the evening while my then 5-year-old daughter was sleeping. Later that year, a Salesforce position opened up at Bazaarvoice, and I was determined to make the switch. I interviewed against Admins with actual on-the-job experience, but I got the job, and I felt like I had won the lottery. There was not a chance I wasn’t going to make the most of this opportunity.

I really did hit the lottery it turned out because I was given the opportunity to work with the most generous and technically savvy guys on this planet. It was intimidating at first, because each one of them had years of technical experience, and my little imposter syndrome voice was telling me, “are you sure you can do this?”. Finally, I said to her, “who asked you?”, and I just kept working away and striving to do more and know more each day. To this day, every time I understand a concept about Salesforce that seemed insurmountable just a moment before, I feel a sense of pride in myself and adoration in the platform. Even though most of us have moved onto other companies now, my teammates and I still have our own Slack Workspace where we communicate daily and have a free forum to communicate about any Salesforce questions. I truly feel blessed to call each one of them a mentor and a friend (you know who you are!).

I started this blog because I want to give back to my Ohana that has been so generous to me. If you are just starting on the platform, be patient with yourself and just do a little something each day, even if it is just 10 minutes. Consistency is the key here. You are not going to learn all of Salesforce in one day. To quote my dear Ezra, “There is no such thing as a Salesforce expert”. You could see this as intimating, but I find it exhilarating. That means I get to learn something new each day, and it turns out that was what was missing from my life, that continual sense of learning and evolving. So go get yourself a Trailhead Badge: earn one trailhead badge at a time and suddenly you’re a Ranger. #ProudSFDCRanger

A little note about this photo below. This was my first Dreamforce in 2016. My wonderful friends I mentioned above dared me to go pinch Astro’s tush, and yes, I totally did. I realize this is a ridiculous photo, but it makes me incredibly happy, so that’s why I chose to feature it. Live long and Salesforce! ~ Lindsey

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.”  — Sheryl Sandberg