This blog was originally published on 2/2/2016 and has been updated.In the summer of 2013, Salesforce introduced Salesforce Communities to help businesses collaborate across external users in many different roles, from employees to partners, to customers, resellers, and vendors.
Communities replaced the old Salesforce Portals and gave businesses more customization options.Salesforce Communities are often an extension of a business’s public-facing website.
Today, Salesforce Community Cloud is now called Salesforce Experience Cloud, to reflect the expansion to not merely customer portals, but also interactive sites and apps. The typical goal of a customer community is to bring key business functions together (marketing, sales, operations) and extend their reach, connecting every part of the business ecosystem via CRM data, workspaces, and APIs. This can enable faster workflows, enabling organizations to support customers more effectively and close deals faster.
Salesforce Experience Cloud is a digital platform that helps companies quickly build seamless digital experiences for their customers, partners and employees at scale. Combined features like Salesforce CRM, CMS and Experience Builder with a suite of prepackaged apps, help companies easily create and deliver personalized content, websites, portals, mobile apps and storefronts.
Creating a consistent brand style across touch points, whether your teams are using Classic or Lightning Communities, is crucial for establishing trust and credibility. That’s why many companies want to customize the user experience (UX) of their Salesforce Communities.
As with most things in Salesforce, you can customize your Community by writing custom Visualforce code. However, the cost and time commitment required by custom code, either done in-house or by an outside firm, leads many companies to look for no code alternatives.
If you’re in this camp, there are three great options for modifying your Community without code: basic customizations within standard Salesforce, Experience Cloud Templates, and Skuid. Each option offers advantages for different use cases.
Basic Salesforce Community Customizations
The first and most straight-forward option for customizing your Community can be found inside Salesforce. These basic customization options let you set the header, footer, and color scheme. However, your Community will still have the standard Salesforce user experience. This is a good option if:
- You like the look of the standard Salesforce user experience and the functionality
- You don’t need to display different information to different user profiles (partners, employees, etc...)
- You don’t want to change your community’s fonts
- You don’t want to make additional branding and styling customizations, or use custom theme layouts
- You don't need custom objects, you're comfortable with the standard Salesforce objects and record detail
If this sounds right for you, click here to find out how to brand your customer Community with basic customizations. If you’d like more options, keep reading!
Salesforce Experience Cloud Templates
The next code-free way to customize your Salesforce Customer Community is by using Experience Cloud Templates. Available in Enterprise, Performance, Unlimited, and Developer Editions of Salesforce, the Community Builder takes you one step closer to your custom-branded community. With Community Builder Templates, you can:
- Quickly build Experience Cloud Sites
- Easily build a mobile-optimized Community
- Apply a color scheme to your Community
- Change your header and page background color
- Customize your font family (from a drop-down list), font size, and font color
However, the Community Builder Templates currently have some known technical limitations, including lack of support for:
- Existing communities that weren’t created using the preconfigured templates
- Lookup fields
- Article smart links
- Multilingual community login options
- Data and Form components from site.com
- Lightning Experience
With that said, the Community Builder Templates are a good option for you if:
- You want more control than basic customizations allow
- You’re building a new community, not editing an existing community (see note above)
- Your Community only needs to support one language
- The font options available within the Community Builder meet your needs
- Your Community doesn’t need to utilize lookup fields
Skuid for your Salesforce Experience Community
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the ways you can use Skuid with no code needed. Our tools are the only way to create a completely bespoke Salesforce community that perfectly matches your business needs, with no code.
With the click of your mouse, you can create your own design theme to exactly match your company’s brand standards and public-facing websites. And the benefits go far beyond just branding. You can also infinitely customize the layout of your community pages.
With our drag-and-drop Page Editor, it’s easy to add columns, rows, graphs, Chatter, and even data from your company’s other software providers, including Oracle, SharePoint, and many more (learn more here).
With Skuid, you can also serve up different content to each individual community user based on their role, giving every visitor a customized experience that fits their unique needs.
Our customers also really enjoy prototyping their Community in Skuid, because development is so fast. Customers use Skuid to show other stakeholders and clients their vision for the Community, and they can easily make changes based on feedback. E-Commerce prototypes are extremely powerful sales tools to cast a vision to your client or stakeholder of custom theme layout components, home page designs, custom pages, the login page, navigation menu, custom domain name / custom URL (force.com) or simple new page additions.
Once they have it exactly how they want it, they deploy their Community in the same environment they used for prototyping. Business users love it because they can easily make changes to their Community without pulling from IT resources.
And IT teams love it because it helps them deliver results in a fraction of the time it would take with custom code. Skuid is a powerful tool that can be used to build bespoke Salesforce Communities. Skuid might be right for you if want:
- Data-driven content served to different users
- Highly customized branding and styling
- To make advanced customizations to your page layouts
- Business users to be able to make changes to your Community without needing IT resources
- To simplify data entry workflows, with no code
- To create data visualizations, with no code
Want to see it in action? Check out this video of one client’s Salesforce Community built with Skuid: No matter which method you choose, customizing your Salesforce Community is a critical step toward creating an ideal experience for your users. For more details, watch this webinar.
Are you a Salesforce admin or generally responsible for your company’s Salesforce instance? Check out our guide, Time-saving shortcuts for Salesforce admins, where we share our best time-saving tips and tricks for Salesforce admins.