Is Salesforce Classic still relevant? A Comparison to Lightning Experience

If you are new to the Salesforce ecosystem, you have probably been learning the ropes of Salesforce in Lightning. I’m referring to Salesforce’s user interface (UI) called Lightning Experience.
Did you know that Salesforce used a very different UI called Salesforce Classic? It’s the original UI which is actually still in use. But no-one really talks about it anymore. Why is that?

Author: Peggy Schael | Salesforce Trainer | WeLearnSalesforce

In this article I want to answer the following questions to you:

  • What happened to Salesforce Classic?
  • What is Lightning Experience?
  • Is Salesforce Classic still in use?
  • What are the differences between Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience?
  • Can Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience work alongside?
  • Can Salesforce Users be forced to use Lightning Experience?
  • Do new Salesforce Administrators still need to learn Salesforce Classic?

What happened to Salesforce Classic?

Salesforce Classic simply became out of modern fashion. It couldn’t keep up with the high resolution screens and interactive ways of working anymore. A new fresh and modern UI was needed. 

Here’s an example of a record in Salesforce Classic:

What is Lightning Experience?

In 2015 a new UI called Lightning Experience was released. While it looks fresh and modern to the end user, it’s now also providing a much more flexible framework for Salesforce Administrators and Developers to design and maintain the UI for Salesforce end users.

Here’s an example of the same record displayed in the Lightning Experience UI:

You can already tell this one looks much more exciting doesn’t it? Let me know in the comments what you think!

🌶️ Our Salesforce Courses are all based on Lightning Experience. BUT, we show you the Salesforce Classic UI too and tell you when you may need to use Classic over Lightning.

Is Salesforce Classic still in use?

OH YES!!! It won’t go anywhere anytime soon! Because…not all Salesforce Customers are ready to move to Lightning Experience (LEX) just yet or ever. This is due to the fact that they are using functionality which is either not available in LEX or doesn’t work as intended.

Salesforce focusses all their development efforts on LEX but still supports Classic simply because larger customers depend on its functionality. Plus, certain customizations could theoretically be moved into LEX but require a hell lot of development work to make this happen. So understandably, these Salesforce Customers will stay away from LEX for as long as possible. 

What are the differences between Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience?

There aren’t too many features and functionalities not made available in LEX, but those few can be significant enough to hold customers back from moving to LEX.

Salesforce provides you with a comprehensive list of differences (comparison tables). You can refer to these when making the decision whether or not a transition to LEX is appropriate or requires more investigation:

Go to:

👉 BTW: New Salesforce Customers automatically get the Lightning Experience user interface. No need to worry about Salesforce Classic at all.

Can Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience work alongside?

Absolutely, but…! Some Salesforce Customers are even using LEX for certain departments like Sales, while other departments still use Salesforce Classic.

This combo CAN work BUT has an impact on reporting and other features. And even when departments using different interfaces talk to each other, they may confuse themselves because their UI looks different.

🌶️ It is however possible to switch between the two interfaces. The so-called Switcher can be accessed from your user menu. This makes it super simple to switch between both UIs.

Switcher in Lightning Experience:

Switcher in Salesforce Classic:

Can Salesforce Users be forced to use Lightning Experience?

Yepp! You guessed it, it’s a permission which can be disabled. You can either use a Profile or a Permission Set and tick the checkbox “Hide Option to Switch to Salesforce Classic” and the Switcher will disappear. Users assigned to this Profile or Permission Set will no longer be able to switch to Classic.

Do new Salesforce Administrators still need to learn Salesforce Classic?

If you are currently studying for your Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam, you don’t necessarily need to know the Salesforce Classic UI inside out. However, you should have a rough idea about what it is and how to switch. I’d also recommend to look through the Setup items just so you know what it’s all about.

You’ll notice that most of the features you are learning throughout your certification studies work exactly the same in both interfaces, they just look a little different.

And if you are a more experienced Salesforce Administrator but haven’t used Classic yet, it’s still worth taking a look at it because you may need it at your next job. 🤓

Here’s what an example Setup item looks like in LEX, like the Object Manager:

And this is where you’ll find the same item in Salesforce Classic, under the Build/Customize section:

Try it out! Create a new field in LEX, then switch to Classic and see if it’s there. Now, create another field in Classic, then switch to LEX and see if it’s there. Tell me what you think in the comments! I’d love to know which one you liked better.


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