Salesforce.com Lightning Experience (LEX) – The Speed Depends On You – Part I

This blog post is an expanded version – with Part I and II – of a forum comment on one of the most “popular” Ideas on the Salesforce.com Trailblazer Community titled “Lightning Experience LEX – lightning speed please!”: https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=08730000000cJpFAAU

This idea has over 20,000 points and 2000 votes and is one of the few Ideas that brings out passion and emotion in this Salesforce.com community. For those that live and breathe Salesforce.com, improvements in productivity, user experience, and “more results with less effort” for our clients and users are our daily goal for our work on the platform.  Anything that threatens that intention is fuel for fire.

The marketing and roll-out of the Lightning Experience (LEX) UI, especially for users that have endured their own pain to become experts (although we never stop learning) in the Classic UI, have demonstrated a failure to set expectations within the Salesforce.com community. LEX was half-baked on roll-out. Maybe even that is generous. And even now, there are plenty of gaps and headscratchers in LEX.

In my humble opinion, however, LEX ultimately demonstrates the genius and incredible business courage of Salesforce.com and Mark Benioff (and likely many sleepless nights for the engineering team) to throw out a system that has a huge, growing, and profitable user base with the Classic UI, and force that loyal group to rethink their business processes and discard old limitations.

So here is Part I, as an expanded recap of my forum post (that is not limited to 4,000 characters). Part II will focus more on some of my real-world, and anecdotal, experiences with the significant improvements in capability afforded by either clicks or code in the Lightning Experience UI:

I would confirm what others are saying:  Connection speed and local computing power make a difference in latency and load times.  A while back, I conducted an unscientific test on the same wired connection with two different computers: a Latitude E6330 with integrated graphics and an XPS 15 9560 with Nvidia graphics.  With the same wired internet connection, the XPS loaded Lightning pages substantially faster (maybe 100%?). With this faster computer, the difference between load times for Classic vs LEX was much less noticeable and significantly more tolerable. And with this test, I happily self-justified the investment in my shiny, new XPS 15.

(Side note: I had originally stated that the difference between the two computers was 25-50%, not 100%. However, I meant to say that the difference between the two computers was 100% (XPS twice as fast as E6330), and the difference between Classic and LEX was 25-50%. On a computer that is loading LEX pages twice as fast, the 25-50% difference is less noticeable to me.)

My understanding is that the Classic interface mostly uses server-side computing power, and LEX uses mostly client-side computing power.  This is just one part of Benioff’s genius – with one, huge technological decision/risk, he has substantially reduced Salesforce.com’s server power requirements (and all those hardware and electrical expenses) and shifted that computing load to the client-side.  This makes complete sense, since client computers sit wasting unused processing power most of the time.

In the same way that Steve Jobs famously said “Well, don’t hold it that way.” in response to AntennaGate, no one wants to hear that they may need to change behavior or be forced to invest in fast computers in order to achieve an optimum user experience. Again, this is a failure in communication, in setting expectations for product readiness and development status, and in providing real-world, one-on-one customer success management for the many thousands of non-enterprise Salesforce.com clients and users that don’t have in-house business analyst and dev teams that can take weeks or months to learn the intricacies and opportunities within LEX. And it was my failure as a Salesforce.com consultant to be lost in my daily rush of project meetings and deadlines to take the time to research, learn, and brainstorm new solutions for my clients, especially given the treasure trove of resources on this Community, on Salesforce.com’s YouTube channel, or even at DreamForce.

Client computing power increases on a regular basis, and with a typical client computer upgrade cycle of 3-5 years, improvements in Mac and Windows OS’s, and faster internet connections, these LEX speed issues will fade away automatically.  My suggestion is to use a fast, wired connection with a newish computer, preferably with dedicated graphics, plenty of memory, and an SSD (and at least two monitors!).  Ideally, Salesforce will optimize their platform for Microsoft Edge or Firefox and get away from the resource-hog, Chrome.  Salesforce is regularly optimizing LEX in general, too, and provides tools and tips to reduce load times: https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=08730000000cJpFAAU

I was dragged out of my comfort zone in Classic and into early, half-baked LEX almost three years ago practically kicking and screaming.  I will admit that it took me a while for it to “click” in my head.  As an early hater of and a late convert to LEX, I believe those users that are complaining primarily about load time and latency issues are really missing the point of LEX.  The speed of LEX is not about load time and latency.

LEX is about the ability of customers, consultants, and ISVs to build completely optimized user interfaces using the modular and flexible page architecture using drag-and-drop standard components.  And beyond the clicks-not-code standard components, the modern Javascript within the Lightning framework (which still has its shortcomings but is also improving with every release) can be leveraged to build completely custom UIs and processes.  What was ugly and slow in Classic (or sometimes not even possible) can be beautiful and quick in LEX.

Yes, the page may load slightly slower within LEX than Classic, but if you structure your processes and pages correctly, then the user can see everything they need within an optimized page layout and act on their responsibilities and processes with many fewer clicks.  The way that I look at it, even if the page loads 25-50% slower (which can be a minimal time difference on a fast computer), but the user can perform their tasks 3x faster, then LEX is a big win.  And from my anecdotal experience, the custom UIs that we have built achieve those metrics, and the users are ecstatic with a major reduction in the clicks and clunkiness experienced in Classic.  It is a huge difference in user experience.

If you are migrating from Classic to LEX without rethinking your business processes and leveraging all that LEX has to offer, then of course you are going to be upset about latency.  You can’t use LEX like you did Classic.  If you are, then you are missing the point of LEX, and you are doing a disservice to your users.  Salesforce’s mantra of “more productivity with less effort” can finally be realized in LEX where it never could be in Classic.  But you must invest the time to analyze your users’ workflows and optimize their Lightning Experience.  (And it just dawned on me what they mean by “Experience”.) If you do that, then your users will eventually look at Classic with disgust and recognize the Classic UI for the anachronism that it is.

LEX is a hugely powerful step forward for Salesforce, and with every release, Salesforce is providing the tools to enable you to build your perfect business system.  I personally believe that if you are running a business without Salesforce, then you have limited your potential from the start.  Yes, there is a learning curve, but get out of your comfort zone.  Spend the time on your business processes.  Spend the time to mix and match standard Lightning components in new ways. Don’t just throw your users to the wolves.  Leverage LEX the way it is designed, and you will realize a real business advantage over any non-Salesforce-based competitor of yours.

Maybe it was Salesforce’s mistake not to communicate these concepts effectively.  Maybe they over-promised and under-delivered for the first few years of LEX, but that time is over.  If your users are not working faster and achieving higher productivity in LEX than Classic, then that is your fault (or the fault of your consultant or admin). And, yes, I was one of the guilty ones.

So maybe I am drunk on San Francisco Kool-Aid, but that is just my 2 cents!


Rich

Fearless leader of the finest team of Salesforce.com Certified Consultants, Developers and Administrators, relentlessly bringing rapid radical results to growing businesses throughout the United States.