Salesforce Lightning vs. Salesforce Classic

Salesforce Lightning vs. Salesforce Classic: Which One You Should Choose

What is Salesforce Lightning?

Salesforce Lightning, first announced at the Dreamforce conference in 2015, represents the company’s vision for the CRM platform moving forward. The user interface has been significantly updated to provide a more modern look and feel that is consistent across all user devices.

Lightning will mean different things to different users. For most Salesforce end-users, it will represent the “Lightning Experience”, the new user interface. For admins and developers, it also will refer to the “Lightning Framework” development framework and the “Lightning Design System” for styling Lightning apps. Rather than being a purely cosmetic update, it brings several significant benefits, including:

  • Advanced User Interface and User Experience - The visual difference in the UI between Lightning and Classic is apparent right away. Lightning looks and feels much more modern, and the consistent design across devices makes for a smoother experience for users.
  • Lightning component library - The Lightning component library is your starting point for undertaking any custom development of the Lightning UI for your organization. There are hundreds of components pre-built by Salesforce, ready for you to use as-is or as a starting point for something more advanced.
  • The flexibility of Lightning record pages - In Lightning, the record pages are a collection of Lightning components and can be easily created or modified to suit your needs. If the standard record pages are not sufficient for your needs, you can easily use the Lightning App Builder to modify them or make something new.
  • Lightning App Builder - One of the biggest advantages of Lightning is the availability of the Lightning App Builder, which allows you to use point and click functionality to build custom pages for Lightning Experience and Salesforce mobile app.
  • Third-party apps on AppExchange - Functionality of the Lightning App Builder is extended by the ability to directly add third-party components from the AppExchange within the builder, allowing for much faster development.

So how are companies that have made the switch already benefiting from Lightning? In 2018 Salesforce commissioned an economic impact study by Forrester, which revealed some pretty impressive results.

The newly optimized UI and UX help considerably with productivity by allowing a better view of the customer lifecycle in one place rather than needing to click through multiple tabs and pages. The study showed that this increase in productivity amongst sales teams accounted for almost 50% of the total benefits of switching to Lightning. On an individual user level, it accounted for around an hour a week of increased productivity every week. When other factors such as decreased development time and costs and a reduced spend on support are considered, the total ROI for the switch from Classic to Lightning was an enormous 341%, with an average payback period of 14 months.

Salesforce Lightning

Some elements of Salesforce’s AI technology, Einstein, are available to Classic users, however, the degree of integration is far deeper within Lightning. This includes updating dashboard data hourly, the ability to build AI-powered smart bots, and more. Increased productivity from sales teams.

There is no question that Lightning is the future of Salesforce, so by making the transition from Classic to Lightning, you are better preparing your business for the future.

dont miss out iconDon't forget to check out: Why You Should Consider Investing In Salesforce Lightning

What is Salesforce Classic?

Salesforce Classic is the legacy version of the CRM platform that is no longer under active development. While it continues to be supported by Salesforce and no end-of-life date has been announced, no new features will be added and users are consistently prompted to make the switch to Lightning.

So with all of the new capabilities that come with Lightning, what are some of the reasons might a company be hesitant to migrate away from Classic?

Salesforce Classic
  • User resistance to migration - For some companies, especially those with a large Salesforce user base, there may be some hesitance to migrate. Long-time users may feel comfortable with their way of working in Salesforce Classic, and for organizations with hundreds or even thousands of employees using it, the prospect of re-training them in Lightning is probably very daunting.
  • Classic, for some users at least, still works faster - While there have been significant improvements to the loading times with Lightning, Salesforce user forums are still filled with many cases of users preferring to stay with Classic because of slow page loading times. Given the frequency of updates to Lightning it is probably safe to assume that this will become less of an issue with each round of improvements to the platform.
  • Legacy code/Visualforce pages - Some companies may have significant investments made in custom code or Visualforce pages that are not yet compatible with Lightning or will require significant work to upgrade.

Migrating to Salesforce Lightning

Migrating to Salesforce Lightning

When Salesforce Lightning was first launched, the initial adoption was slowed down by a number of issues, most significantly the lack of feature parity with Classic. Fast forward to 2021, and these issues have largely been resolved.

Salesforce has been very deliberate in its efforts to encourage users to migrate to Lightning. In January 2020, they released the “Turn on Lightning Experience” critical update which included automatically turning on Lightning Experience for users when they log in, and switching them to Lightning Experience once a week. These changes can still be overridden by users who have the ability to toggle between Lightning and Classic, but it was a clear signal on Salesforce’s part that Lightning is intended to become the default platform moving forward.

The Lightning Experience Readiness Check tool provided by Salesforce is a good way for Classic users to get an idea of how much of your company’s existing code is ready for Lightning and what will still need to be dealt with manually. Along with the Readiness Check tool, Salesforce in some cases can also provide an estimate of your expected ROI based on real-world numbers from other companies who have successfully made the transition from Classic to Lightning.

Because of the ease of toggling between the two platforms, you are able to start taking advantage of Lightning’s capabilities, while still being able to utilize your organization’s existing customized Classic pages that may still require additional work to migrate.

For many organizations, the transition is bound to cause some degree of teething pains. For example, you may end up needing to build interfaces to support both Classic and Lightning for a period of time.

dont miss out iconCheck out another amazing blog by ITechArt here: The Salesforce Customization Dilemma: Get In or Stay Out?


For new Salesforce users, there is no benefit from starting with Salesforce Classic. There is no more active development on the product, and while it will likely be supported for some time to come because of its large existing user base, there is no guarantee how long that support will last.

For existing users, the issue is not going to be whether to migrate to the Salesforce Lightning platform but when and how to do it. Now that the missing features and speed issues have primarily been addressed, the real task now is to make a plan for a migration strategy so that your business can continue to get the most out of Salesforce.

Learning Module:

"economic impact study by Forrester" -
"Turn on Lightning Experience" -
"Lightning Experience Readiness Check" -


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