As our world becomes more mobile, there is more and more of a push to make Partner Communities available on mobile devices. A recent Forrester study confirms that field sales teams at your channel partners increasingly manage their business from their smart phones and tablets, and partner portal adoption is low when companies do not make it easy for partners to navigate their portal on a mobile device. A common misconception that many our customers have is that all Salesforce Communities are going to be mobile-ready without any customization. While this is true for the Salesforce Community Builder self-service templates (which are gorgeous examples of mobile-responsive design), it takes a bit more work to get a Partner Community built using Force.com fully ready for viewing on a mobile device.
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Here are three ways to make your Partner Community mobile-ready:
- Optimize your Partner Community’s CSS to work well in any browser, desktop or mobile device
- Key Benefits: Your Partner Community will look amazing on any device (computer, tablet, smart phone). For example, look at MobileIron’s Partner Community login page on any device, and it will respond beautifully to the device dimensions.
- Drawbacks: You cannot do any push notifications to partners on their mobile devices, nor can partners access data offline.
- Use the Salesforce1 Mobile App
- Key Benefits: Salesforce1 can be shown in a browser as well as downloaded to a mobile device as an app. It’s easy to configure your mobile navigation menu and it has built-in mobile interfaces for native features such as Chatter, Leads and Opportunities. Also, if your community is social, partners can receive push notifications when you @mention them in Chatter. The app will automatically be branded with the logo and colors you specify in your community setup menu; keep in mind, the branding is minimal, especially on native pages.
- Drawbacks: If you partners chose to download the app, they will download the Salesforce1 mobile app (not the Acme Partner Community app) and enter in your custom domain to login, which is not very intuitive. Also, if you want to show custom Visualforce pages inside of the community, you will need to enable the pages for Salesforce1 and optimize the CSS to be mobile-responsive, as you would need to in option 1, and you’ll need to make sure the CSS is called from inside the page itself, not from the header of the community as it would be in a browser.
- Build a Custom Mobile App
- Key Benefits: The app can be fully branded for your company and you can use push notifications (i.e. to warn them they have a lead to accept or a deal registration about to expire). If you are looking to build your community entirely on Visualforce and will not be using native tabs, Salesforce1 will not work for you. If you want a true mobile app over an in-browser mobile experience, this is the way to go.
- Drawbacks: Apps are device specific, and far more costly and time consuming to build and maintain than either of the two other options. You need a really strong use case for going this direction.
Unless social collaboration is a major feature in your community, we recommend that you start by optimizing your Partner Community’s CSS to look good on any device (option 1) as it will certainly lay the foundation for using Salesforce1 or a custom mobile app down the road. From there, you can look at the LoginHistory table to analyze what kinds of mobile-devices your partners are accessing your community from and decide how to evolve your mobile strategy from there.