User performance is one of the most underrated yet important metrics for any platform or software delivery project. It can be summarized as the measure of “how well users can complete tasks and achieve outcomes in the technology”. Accessibility and usability can be crucial considerations when implementing and maintaining a Salesforce instance with high user performance.
Accessibility can be defined as “the quality of being easy to obtain or use”, as well as “the quality of being easily reached, entered, or used by people who have a disability” (Oxford Dictionary). While the ideas of accessibility or usability aren’t specific to technology, there are certainly methods to creating a more inclusive experience within technology solutions.
Embracing both assistive technology, as well as best practices from electronic performance support systems (EPSS) are both stepping stones toward accessibility. Salesforce has pivoted in recent years to prioritizing accessibility and design at the core of their products, as noted by their dedicated User Experience Designer certification released last year. There are now dedicated components, standards, and best practices aligned with user performance within the platform.
Strategy and Design
A guiding strategy or framework is critical for implementing user-friendly components for improved user performance, with accessibility and user performance at the forefront. Luckily, Salesforce advocates for web accessibility design and inclusive design, both in their products and when implementation teams build on the platform.
The inclusive design encapsulates building for all users – regardless of race, disabilities, age, sex, and other identifying characteristics. It has three core tenets:
- The identification of exclusion.
- Gaining knowledge from diverse characteristics.
- Extending the design from the excluded group to benefit all users.
Websites have their own standards around accessibility, in addition to the inclusive design tenets. There are best practices around colors, text, grouping, and all kinds of other elements that drive a great user experience.
Colors are essential to the user experience from a branding perspective. If not already in place, it is recommended that a color palette is established that meets the needs of the brand image of the associated enterprise. This color palette can be used as a guide and provide cohesion with other applications within the enterprise. It is wise to pair color as a visual indicator with another design for an indicator to account for color blindness.
The text is another element that needs consideration as part of user performance. Text needs to follow consistency and a hierarchy for both font style and sizing. Consistency within text includes keeping the font within the same font family and using bold or highlighted text reliably throughout the Salesforce solution.
Salesforce Kinetics and Salesforce Lightning Design System
The future of accessible user experiences through software is responsiveness and motion design. Responsiveness is how the software ‘feels’ to utilize – the clickability of a button, the travel between sub-pages of a website, and a success toast on a form submission are all examples of elements that utilize motion design to elicit responsiveness.
Salesforce has begun its own trek into responsive user experiences with Salesforce Kinetics. Kinetics is a doctrine of best practices – however, it is not a library or design system. The Salesforce Kinetics system has the core goals of:
- Promoting discoverability (How can users find what they are looking for?)
- Providing guidance (How is important information shown?)
- Providing clarity and logic (How can the webpage best be organized with space?)
- Prevent change blindness (How can the page draw focus to real-time change?)
- Reduce cognitive load (How to clearly communicate information?)
- Improve perceived latency (How to use visual cues & indicators for users effectively?)
While the Kinetics System is the best practice for motion design, it needs a partner design system that has reusable elements for implementation. The Salesforce Lightning Design System (SLDS) contains all standard Salesforce elements, icons, and text (as well as how to use these items best) in one easy library.
Salesforce’s design system is guided by straightforward and inclusive standards and allows all roles within the ecosystem to understand and implement clean user interfaces during implementation. There are a vast amount of components and standards within the SLDS, and several can assist in the objective of better user performance within Salesforce. Guiding users, providing clarity to pages, and creating a consistent experience – all of these items are possible by utilizing the SLDS in a disciplined manner.
Creating an Accessible Experience
There’s a priority on user performance via accessible and inclusive design, an interest in motion design with Kinetics, and a great Salesforce component library in the SLDS. Now, the components need to be built and code compiled that delivers upon the promise of a great user experience.
To narrow down which components can be most handy, let’s focus on record pages – some of the most commonly utilized pages within Salesforce. Record pages have a plethora of elements that can be employed for better user performance. Complex business processes that utilize record pages can be orchestrated via paths or in-app guidance (or both).
Paths are great for visualizing steps in a linear process and allowing users to prominently see what step they are on. They are based on stages and allow users to see different fields, quick actions, and other elements based on the path stage (Dynamic Forms assists with expanding this capability). Paths are typically found towards the top of the record page and improve user performance by giving clarity to users who utilize the page.
At a more granular level, fields can also be made more user-friendly and accessible. Error handling (for validation rules or duplicate rules) and field-level help can assist users with interpreting data. Whether using validation, duplicate, or another element of the platform that provides error messaging based on conditions – it’s important to have good error handling.
Good error handling notifies users of what they need to correct on the page. For example, “Please enter a last name before saving”. Better messaging around errors will increase user performance by reducing cognitive load on what needs to be fixed, as well as giving clarity to users – not to mention easing the frustration that comes with vague messaging.
Record pages can hold an incredible amount of data for users. It’s essential for users to be aware of what fields represent as data points when completing their tasks and, more importantly, for users to see what they care about.
To create clarity on fields and their purpose, enter the Help Text field. It can be configured while creating the field and allows users to click an information icon to read more about it. Help Text field has a great ROI since it is so easy to create and maintain, at the same time, providing users with great tips on field information.
When it comes to personalizing a user’s experience and creating a better performance for specific user groups within Salesforce – look no further than dynamic forms.
Dynamic Forms enable different versions of record pages, for different users, based on conditions. Field visibility can be controlled via the creation of the dynamic form. It can easily be changed at any time, which is great for maintaining pages in the instance long-term.
Dynamic Forms reduce cognitive load for users and provide clarity. Salesforce record pages that have a multitude of fields can both confuse users and create inefficiencies in their workday – but Dynamic Forms can ease both of these issues and provide a better overall user experience.
Rolling out new features to users within the Salesforce instance can be both rewarding and beneficial. However, with new features comes new processes and new directions for users to execute. Providing guidance on how new functionality works is certainly the responsibility of any Salesforce professional that values accessibility and user performance.
Fortunately, for more complex new features, there are in-app guidance components that can be utilized. In-app guidance components employ prompts and walkthrough style elements to disseminate information to the user. In-app guidance is perfect for guiding users, step by step, through a new process. This guidance can ease both frustration and provide context to the process that may not be understood without the prompts and/or walkthrough elements.
No great Salesforce solution is created without considering user performance. Designing with accessibility in mind is a gateway to success for several factors – users will have clarity on processes, the inclusiveness allows for all types of users to complete tasks, and less time is spent by Salesforce professionals helping users through tasks.
List of Resources
- Assistive technology
- Performance Support Systems: Overview, Best Tools, Tips
- Explore Inclusive Design Unit
- Integrate Accessibility into Your Design Unit
- Get to Know the Salesforce Kinetics System Unit
- Get Started with User Engagement Unit
- Lightning Design System Basics
- Lightning Design System
- Define Field-Level Help
- Upgrade to Dynamic Forms Unit
- Promote Feature Adoption and Discovery Unit