Lightning Experience (LEX) versus the Classic UI (Aloha) and Migrating to Lightning

In this episode we explore the brief history of the Lightning User Interface (UI), sometimes referred to as the Lightning Experience (LEX). Through this brief timeline we tackle the tough decision point – if I’m new to Salesforce, do I start in LEX or Classic? If you are on the Classic UI today and interested in migrating to Lightning, how do you make the business case to switch? There are real costs associated with implementing LEX so how do you evaluate the ROI (Return on Investment) on such a migration project?

To help with that discussion I break down what’s not impacted switching to Lighting and what you will have to address (page layouts, AppExchange Apps, technical debt, re-training users, Admin knowledge, etc.). Migrating to Lightning is not a weekend project. If you are a large enterprise client, this could be a multi-year journey.

If you want to know more about what’s involved migrating to Lightning (assessing your org, planning the migration, how to manage build sprints and testing, training end users, etc.) – download our eBook "Salesforce Secret Formula – Migrating to Lightning."

View this video on YouTube

Transcription of video:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another edition of ShellBlack Whiteboard. I’m Shell Black, president of and Salesforce MVP.

This is a pretty highly requested topic, so I think the time is right to tackle it. But what we’re going to get into is the Lightning Experience, or the Lightning UI, sometimes called LEX, L-E-X, and comparing that to Classic, now called the Aloha user interface. So let’s jump into it.

So I think the best way to kind of set the table for this discussion is really take you through a little bit of a history of Lightning, from where it was and where we are now, and some considerations along the way.

So back in 2015, on stage with Marc Benioff and Dreamforce, with folks watching in the audience and online, Lightning was presented. There was a demo, what we call now maybe "the sales happy path" of a demonstration of a salesperson working in the Lightning Experience.

What we found out a little bit after Dreamforce is that Lightning is not a complete one-to-one feature set to the Classic interface. In fact, it was very, very narrow and there was quite a bit of a feature gap that existed, and if you got off script on your Lightning demo of the sales user use case, you’d find out really quick that there were some features missing that you’d have to bail back to Classic to use.

Let’s fast-forward the tape to 2016. The Salesforce product team is working diligently hard to close the product gap to Classic. They published roadmaps of where they are, what features are being knocked out each release. We’re starting to see 300 to 400-page release notes in the Spring Release, Summer Release, Winter Release of really just almost exclusively Lightning features.

As a consulting company, when we’re working with clients, 2016 was a kind of an interesting year. Do we put a client in Lightning or do we implement Salesforce in Classic? And what we had to do is really look at the problem of could we keep a function group working and doing their business process end-to-end in one interface or the other? And if they could do their job role end-to-end in Lightning, we implemented that company in Lightning. If we couldn’t and there will be too much flip-flopping between Classic and Lightning, we went with the Classic.

In June of 2016, I wrote a blog post. It was my most socially shared blog post ever out of my 125 blog posts called "Salesforce Classic is dead. Get over it." And kind of the Lightning rod on this, pun intended, there I basically said, if folks aren’t watching the ecosystem and watching what the Salesforce product team is doing, there’s no more innovation occurring in Classic. Salesforce is "all in" on Lightning. And as we kept seeing release notes jam packed with features for Lightning, the light bulb really went off for me that pretty soon we’re going to have to be at a decision point, are we going to stay in Classic or migrate to Lightning?" Because the Salesforce product team is moving forward with Lightning and leaving Classic behind.

Fast forwarding the tape a little bit more into 2017. At this point, I think Lightning is fairly mature. And this is, again, my opinion, but as a consulting company working with new clients, new clients evaluating Salesforce are only getting demos today in the Lightning experience. They don’t know what even Classic looks like. And for most of our clients, in almost 100% of our new clients, we are implementing in Lightning.

New clients don’t know what they may be missing in the Classic experience. And the feature gap is close so much that it really would be almost a disservice to put a customer in Classic knowing that Lightning is growing momentum and doing so well.

If you’re an existing Salesforce customer and in the Classic UI user interface, you really need to start thinking about Lightning. And when does that make sense for your organization? So Lightning has all these innovations that are only available in Lightning, not available in Classic. Whether it’s lead scoring, the Lighting Dialer, Paths to do your business processes visually, the Kanban board where you can drag an Opportunity with a tile from one stage to the next, Financial Services Cloud (FSC), all these different products and features.

At some point, there’s going to be a tipping in the scale, where there’s going to be benefits for your company taking advantages of these new features, new benefits in terms of return on investment from either we can sell more, service our customers better, work smarter and more efficiently, be more predictive. And then, hopefully, there’s enough Return On Investment (ROI) where you can outlay the cost of migrating to Lightning – because it is a migration and there’s an expense. It’s essentially re-implementing Salesforce. And with that, let’s segue to this side of the board.

So let’s talk about migrating to Lightning. First, let’s talk about what is not impacted? So your data doesn’t change. There’s no impact to your records. We’re talking a UI change, a user interface change. The business logic doesn’t change. So a validation rule, workflow rules, process builders, those are not impacted by a different user interface (UI). You security model, controlling who can do what in the system and who can see what, OWDs, role hierarchy, sharing rules, custom profiles – not impacted.

Let’s talk about what is impacted when migrating to Lightning? Again, the biggest benefit, it is a new UI. And with that comes a lot more options to reimagine how your folks are working in Salesforce and revisiting all business processes with a new lens, so looking at an old problem with new glasses. You can have up to 25 tabs. You can have a three-column layout. You can have a Kanban board. You can have a Path. You can have Lightning Components. I wouldn’t say the gloves are off and that you can do anything, but you have a lot more choices now of how you implement a business process in Salesforce and present that information to your end users.

So again, huge impact on how people work and an opportunity to reimagine how the business processes can be handled with the Lightning UI. Huge impact. Third party apps of the AppExchange. If you have any apps installed in your org, you’ll need to go back into the AppExchange and see if there’s a Lightning-compatible version because that might not perform well if you’re on Lightning.

Training users. If you’re looking at this video on, I will put a link in the show notes, but a link back to my Dreamforce presentation last year, which was all about how to train users on the Lightning experience. So on that note, you will have to retrain your users. If you just put your users in Lightning with no training, they’ll be disoriented, they’ll be confused, and they will bail back to Classic as fast as they can.

Technical debt. So for big enterprise clients with a lot of custom code, a lot of custom development, this is going to be a big hurdle for you guys. There are some assessment tools that Salesforce provides to let you know if there might be some compatibility. But visualforce pages, other custom development, you really want to see if that will function correctly, and you might have to go back and rewrite or refactor some code to perform correctly. You might abandon some of the technical code and, again, reimagine how that code would work with maybe a Lightning component, for example.

Admin knowledge. You might be a great system administrator with 10 years of worth of experience working in Salesforce Classic. You’ve got about a year and a half, two years’ worth of knowledge that you’re going to have to learn very quickly on the ins-and -outs of Lightning. Just because you were good at Classic will not necessarily mean you’ll be good at working with Lightning. There’s a lot to learn. It’s a steep learning curve and a lot to learn as an Admin.

So wrapping up, just some other considerations. I think you’re understanding pretty quickly that migrating to Lightning is not a weekend project. You just cannot turn it on and flip the switch to your users, and hope everything is going to go well. It won’t.

For some enterprise clients or larger clients, this could be a multi-year journey. Again, if you’re looking at this video on, I’ll put a link to this in the transcription, that Dell presented last year at Dreamforce that they started working on this problem for about 18 months, and they started working on it, I guess, it was 2016, and they didn’t think they’ll have their first pilot of sales users until 2018, a multi-year journey because of all the technical debt and other issues to get a group of users live and working on Lightning. So again, it could be a multi-year journey for some companies to get to Lightning.

There’s a lot to know, a lot of considerations, maybe a little bit of a shameless plug, but you can go to and download an eBook that we’ve written about trying to tackling the problem and a project such as migrating to Lightning. The eBook is called "Salesforce Secret Formula, Migrating from Classic to Lightning." Again, you can grab it at the A lot of tips and tricks on how to asses, plan, communication plans, build sprints, training users, a lot of things that I think that you’ll find valuable if you’re considering moving to Lightning.

Again, kind of a big topic, kind of a timely topic. A lot of people are on the fence of whether it’s time to jump to Lightning, Classic, what’s involved, things to think about. Obviously, there’s a lot on this topic that we couldn’t cover, but hopefully, that will get you started.

I want to thank you for watching. If you want to reach out to us and let us know how we’re doing, you can hit me on Twitter, Shell_Black, or you can email us at Thanks so much for watching.

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