Make Your Salesforce Community Usable and Useful
A quality user experience is best achieved when the design is based on user-research that documents user pain points and goals, and maps out user journeys. With better understanding of your users, you can create designs that not only remove barriers but optimize the entire experience.
Surface what is important
Keep in mind that most Salesforce Communities are peer to peer and industry based which means there is plenty of opportunity to optimize. In these situations, most users are engaged in the same job function and will seek out and utilize similar community features. It’s key to identify which features are the most useful and surface said features on the landing page or above the fold (browser bottom). Also, these landing page features should be tailored to users industry terminology and serve up the most critical and relevant data for an optimal user experience.
Trim out what is superfluous
Focus on navigation and labels
Key areas to focus on when designing your Salesforce Communities are navigation and labeling. It’s vital to keep your users oriented while ‘clicking-through’ the main and sub pages. There is nothing more frustrating than drilling down to the granular level of a Salesforce Community and having no idea how you arrived there or, even more importantly, how to get back. We recommend the use of breadcrumbs to help your audience keep track of where they are. Breadcrumbs are simple to implement and take up very little real estate on the page. For labeling, be sure to spend time understanding industry terminology and find labels that resonate with the users. It is relatively easy to change labels in Salesforce Communities and using the correct terminology can make the difference between an engaging and a confusing user interface.
Use familiar user interactions
Besides the look and feel, you also need to be consistent on the design of the user interaction of custom pages. When entering a Community, users are bringing with them previous website and UI experience, it’s important to leverage common ‘online consumer’ paradigms. The Salesforce platform strives to capture these paradigms in their built-in features. Chatter, for example uses the ‘Like’, ‘Feed’, and ‘Comment’ paradigms many people have grown used to on popular social networks. When creating a custom VisualForce page for your Community, research how the interaction is accomplished in other areas of the Community, other sections of your user experience, and as well as external web sites with which your users interact. This research will allow you to make design decisions that will maintain consistent style of user interaction.
Out-of the-box, Salesforce delivers a complete, feature-packed Community product that can, with some effort, become a solid extension of your brand. It is important not to forget that core to every brand is a quality user experience. That means you should not only implement brand styling, but tailor the Community to be usable and useful.