The Switch From Salesforce Classic To Lightning Experience: 6 FAQs Answered

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(Updated in March 2020)

Back in May 2019, Salesforce Admins received an email from Salesforce noting the imminent switch from Classic to Lightning. Among the Salesforce community, this raised a number of pressing questions – many of which are still relevant today:

  1. How has this affected me? (which edition am I using anyway!)
  2. What are the benefits of Lightning Experience anyway?
  3. Is now the time to be moving to Salesforce Lightning?
  4. Can I still stay on Salesforce Classic?
  5. Ok, so what do I need to do? I want to keep ahead of the competition. How do I prepare for the change?

In the wake of October 2019, when Salesforce “turned on” Lightning for all orgs – we’ll examine what the switch meant for Salesforce users and what its impact has been so far.

This article is part of our Salesforce Lightning Experience Series, designed to give Salesforce Admins all the information they need about migrating from classic and getting the most out of Lightning. Check out the other handy guides in the series here:

Does this affect me? Am I already using Salesforce Lightning?

Salesforce are very Lightning-happy. Starting back in 2015, they branded many things “Lightning”, so we have Lightning Experience, Lightning Flow and Field Service Lightning amongst many other things.

In this particular article, we are only talking about “Lightning Experience”, the screen that you may see and use when you log into Salesforce. The alternative is “Classic”, which now looks rather dated. You can see screenshots of both below, to help you identify which one you are using.

The bonus with Lightning Experience is that it enables you to use various features that the Salesforce Classic screen layout cannot support. We’ll go into more details shortly….

What is Salesforce Lightning Experience anyway?

Salesforce Lightning Experience is the modern, improved user interface. It offers a more agile way of working. Focusing on end-user benefits (although there are many for admins), they will have easier to use screens, dynamic sections which will only appear as and when required, visual prompts such as Path and Kanban, and – of course – it is mobile and tablet friendly. With every 4-monthly automatic release there are additional benefits, so with Summer ’19 you got improved control over how related records are displayed.

The benefit for Salesforce (rather than us) is that it is easier for them to develop as it’s completely different under the hood. They are focusing on bringing new functionality to Lightning Experience, which will never come to Salesforce Classic. This is why they are focusing on getting us to move over.

Is now the time to be moving to Salesforce Lightning?

For most organisations, the answer is “Yes”. Initially Lightning Experience was a bit slow, but this was many years ago. It is now much faster. Similarly, when Lightning first launched, some core features were missing, but these are now relatively few are far between. Speaking to new users and administrators, they can’t understand why people would prefer Salesforce Classic.

Salesforce has provided some tools to help you to move. See “What actions needed to switch to Lightning?” for more details, as well as some tips.

Can I stay on Salesforce Classic?

Salesforce Classic still remains, although no promises can be made about whether this will always be the case. Salesforce have given no indication that it is going away. However, they have confirmed that no new features will be released on Classic – meaning that users that remain will lose out on all the valuable new developments.

What is going to happen is that everyone using a “Standard User Profile” will be moved over. Typically those on Standard User Profile have the least customized Salesforce and will have little impact, but if you’re not quite ready to change this is what you need to do:

PART A: Check which Profiles are affected

    1. You need to go into your Setup menu, and then go to Manage Users > Users
    2. Click on the “Profiles” column and then you can easily see which profiles are in use.
    3. Then go to Manage Users > Profiles
    4. You will notice a list of existing profiles in your org; you can easily distinguish between Standard and Custom profile by viewing the ‘Custom’ column (see screenshot below). If the profiles you use are unticked it means they are Standard profiles and will be affected by Salesforce’s enforced move to Lightning Experience.

…if none of the profiles that you actually use are Standard (i.e. they’re all ticked/custom) then you don’t need to take any action. Bear in mind that at least one account must be “System Administrator”, and that will be moved to Lightning Experience regardless of any actions you take.

PART B: Creating the workaround

  1. Clone the Standard profiles which you are using; just click on the “Clone” link to the left of the profile name, and give the profile a new name.
  2. Go into the profile and then into System Permission. Make sure that “Lightning Experience User” permission is unchecked and save the record.
  3. Go back to Users and assign your users to the new profile(s) you just created.

Ok, so what do I need to do? I want to keep ahead of the competition. How do I prepare for the change?

So you’ve decided to switch to Lightning Experience. Great stuff, but some planning is in order. The good news is that Salesforce have invested significantly in tools that will help you, without impacting on day to day usability..

If you go to Setup, you’ll see in the top left hand corner the “Lightning Experience Transition Assistant” (see screenshot, below).

Click “Get Started” and follow the prompts. You’ll particularly want to run “Check your Lightning Experience readiness” which can be found within Discover Phase: Evaluate Lightning Experience Benefits and Readiness. Click “Check Readiness” and you’ll then be emailed an impact analysis to let you know what considerations you should have for full deployment.

There are two likely outcomes: you’ll be sent a list of items that you have to double check or prepare to ensure that everything is Lightning compliant, or maybe there will be no issues. Either way you then have to create a transition timetable for Salesforce Lightning, including testing (in a sandbox at first!) and end-user training.

Mainly, we don’t recommend waiting for Salesforce to move you over, do it at a time, place and pace of your own choosing. Follow the Get Started guide, as Salesforce has put considerable efforts into this, based on best practice and feedback from other organizations that have made the move.

If this all seems too much, I’ll put on my Consultant hat and suggest that you consider leveraging a Consulting Partner, who will be able to help you through this entire process and use their experience to unlock further benefits. They’re skilled in these one-off projects that may fall outside of the day-to-day remit of most Salesforce Admins.

18 thoughts on “The Switch From Salesforce Classic To Lightning Experience: 6 FAQs Answered

  1. Part of our users who were offered to switch to Lightning eventually came back to Classic for ergonomy reasons (“quicker”, “less clicks” “more user friendly interface”, “no additional functionnality in LE”, “we are used to Classic”, …).
    Others just couldn’t test LE because Page layouts were not able to migrate and did not open in LE. (SF support is working on this issue).
    Is Lighting really ready ?
    So wait and see.

    1. I agree. My company had to move back to Classic for a particular project and it was like a breath of fresh air. The whole UI is faster and much quicker to do things in, plus you can actually see everything on the page too, unlike Lightning with all its truncated labels and tabs which hide things everywhere. Classic doesn’t even look so old fashioned anymore too when you haven’t seen it for a few months! I am all for change when it’s useful and beneficial, but so far I don’t see either of these traits in Lightning yet.

    1. HI Bob,

      Thanks for your comments. I would be interested to know how you think this post is biased? I’ll be the first to admit that Lightning isn’t perfect, but I think it is superior to Classic in many ways. At EMPAUA we’ve deployed Lightning to 100’s of clients orgs as well as migrated lots of classic users. In my experience, the benefits always out weight any negatives that crop up (Which is in the minority of cases).



  2. I agree with Martin, Charles, and Bob. We switched a portion of our users who were very excited about it. Less than a week later they were no longer excited. We have had reports that used to load now not and the rest load way slower, among other things. It looks pretty, but I just don’t know that it is really ready yet. I get that it is designed to run on the client side instead of the server side to “run faster”, but I haven’t seen that working in practice yet.

  3. Lightning still has a lot of work to be done, Salesforce. In some posts already brought up, like the need to click more to accomplish the same. The biggest problem however is the accessibility for visual impaired colleagues. It already starts with the Editbox, a popup. Popups are killing for accessibility. Also the datematrix is terrible. It even covers fields regularly.

  4. Crystal Karanovich


    “Bear in mind that at least one account must be “System Administrator”, and that will be moved to Lightning Experience regardless of any actions you take.”

    Are you saying even if we clone that profile and switch off the LEX User setting, admins will be stuck in Lightning? This would be the first I have seen of that if so….

    1. Agree! It’s a confusing statement.
      But based on his workaround suggested it shouldn’t be moved over to LEX when you clone the standard System Administator profile.
      Let’s wait for the actual documentation from Salesforce because everyone in the one in the web can be an expert.

  5. Crystal – you can give even the Sys Admin a custom profile. However, this admin can’t switch his/her own profile from the standard one to the custom one. But another with admin rights can. If you only have one admin, just temporarily give another user admin rights, make the switch and then remove the new permission. Voila!

  6. Lightning is a half baked product and Salesforce just wants to keep saying it’s the best under “Safe Harbor”. Please Ben users such as you and other MVP’s should be saying the actual stuff on how sad Lightning is instead of parroting what Salesforce says. Simple examples – Manage Campaign Members is unavailable in Lightning! FFS the product is named Salesforce and it misses out on basics in Lightning.
    Things such as these are not far and few, they are everywhere. It would be much better if Salesforce actually takes an year to fix all shortcomings instead of releasing half baked release for the sake of it.

    As always appreciate your succinctly write up of the information. Cheers mate!

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your comments. In all honesty, while I know that Lightning isn’t 100% perfect product, I feel the downsides FAR outweigh a few of these features that aren’t available. I started working at my consultancy back in 2016 when Lightning was pretty poor, and this was a struggle to implement for our clients. But now I proactively advocate it, and although it may sound like I’ve drunk the kool-aid, this is what I believe!

      Thanks, Ben

  7. Ben, could you clarify this statement… ?
    “Bear in mind that at least one account must be “System Administrator”, and that will be moved to Lightning Experience regardless of any actions you take.”
    There seems to be some confusion in comments above – myself included. I’d like to clone the standard Sys Admin profile and reassign my user info to that new Custom profile, as we’re not ready to move to Lightning yet. I’d hate to be stuck in LE as an Admin with no way to get back to help support our end users in Classic.

  8. Hi Sherry,
    If you are on the Standard System Administrator Profile, you will be migrated to Lighning when the update happens but you can switch back to Classic after you have logged in.

  9. You can set up a Custom Sys Admin profile for every Sys Admin and then the auto change will not take effect. In order to change EVERY sys admin to the custom profile, someone who has now been assigned the custom profile will have to change the “last” standard profile user still in effect to the new custom one

  10. Ben, All,

    18 years in the SFDC Universe, I’ve seen a lot of changes on the platform, most of them very good. Lightening is exception however, it’s been +5 years since its release and still the UI have on-going UI and performance not to mention other compatibility issues. I don’t wasn’t to sound like the proverbial “stick in the mud”, but I think the UI in Classic is just better for a host of reasons:

    1. Ability to see an entire page at a glance (if you have a lot of data elements one must review at a glance, this can a very important)
    2. Navigation – It’s just easier and faster to maneuver in the Classic UI
    3. Classic is/was a lot easier to Administrate (personal preference)

    I had always hopped SFDC would have made advances in the Classic UI but I recognize there were limitations in the company’s ability to advance the platform and moving to a more agile foundation was important and necessary. Lightening is here to stay, Classic will eventually go away but, for a lot of data-driven tasks, where a user must collect and review a large amount of information FAST, Classic is still superior to anything I’ve seen in Lightening.

    A good case-in-point, IBM still sells a slew of AS/400’s that use a quasi Terminal/Windows UI, why? Because transaction data must be rendered fast, and anything that slows that process down is unacceptable. Maybe its an unfair to compare an AS/400 or IBM Mainframe to a browser-based CRM like Salesforce. But in the world I’ve spent most time in (Call Centers, Inside Sales Departments), performance is still paramount and LE still has a long way to go before it’s as easy and flexible as Classic.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I was definitely in your camp a few years back, but after switching our internal Org to Lightning, I absolutely love it! As a sales user I find it a lot easier to navigate in fewer clicks, and little features like the Kanban view make seeing your Opps a lot easier. However, I do sympathise with your points. A lot of our clients generally don’t need to see huge amounts of data so this doesn’t come up too much. However, with one client in particular it does, and we are using custom Lightning components to display the data in a really nice way. This might be a bit rudimentary for your needs, but the recent addition where you can choose between compact or comfy view does mean you can view data in a classic like way with more info on the screen.

      In terms of the speed, I have seen this improve in recent years and actually this isn’t a pain point for me anymore. But in terms of your issue around admin, to be honest I do see most people administrate in the classic view!



  11. A question here, to what extent should new releases of Salesforce / Vlocity (currently using both) be factored in when migrating to Lightning?

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