Salesforce revamps user interface with new Lightning experience and design system

The company says the new Lightning will offer users an entirely new way of interacting with its signature CRM platform.

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Despite its market penetration, many users of Salesforce.com's cloud-based CRM software have found the system's user interface to be a bit antiquated.

Which is why Salesforce on Tuesday announced Lightning Experience, a redesigned UI that the company says will offer users an entirely new way of interacting with its signature CRM platform.

The Salesforce Sales Cloud, the company's core web-based CRM application, is the first product set to receive the Lightning treatment. The company says Sales Cloud has been rebuilt from the ground up for the first time in over 10 years to include more than 25 new features and streamlined existing features.

"This is not just a change of fonts and colors," said Will Moxley, SVP of product management for Sales Cloud.

The Lightning brand has been part of the Salesforce ecosystem since last October, when the San Francisco-based company announced the Salesforce1 Lightning Framework, a toolkit for developers to build and customize mobile apps.

So essentially today's announcement marks the second generation of Lightning, as it combines the developer features with the new Lightning Experience and Lightning Design System to extend the platform to the rest of the Salesforce ecosystem.

The Lightning Experience brings a responsive design and modernized, consumer-grade experience to Salesforce users on every device, be it desktop, tablet or mobile.

The Lightning Design System joins the Lightning App Builder and includes style guidelines, design patterns and a component library to help developers create enterprise applications.

Salesforce is also announcing the Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, the company's first industry-specific product. Built on the Salesforce1 Platform and leveraging the Lightning Experience, Salesforce says the Financial Services Cloud will help advisors better engage and collaborate with clients across multiple devices. Advisor Software, Informatica, and Yodlee have already developed extensions for the new application.

Lightning Experience for Sales Cloud is available in preview starting today and is expected to be generally available in October 2015. Lightning App Builder and Components for Lightning Experience on the desktop are expected to be in pilot in October 2015 and then generally available in the first quarter of 2016. General availability for the Financial Services cloud is slated for February 2016.