Why I Love the 50/50 Split
OK, I’m about to take a pretty big turn from the content and tone of this blog so far. I’ve had almost two months of weekly posts and they’ve all been focused on Salesforce in general and the nonprofit context. I’d say my imagined reader was just as likely to be a Salesforce admin as a nonprofit executive considering the platform and how to get value from it. But today is the first post where I start getting into the weeds.
It was always my intent for this blog to be a hybrid resource, one that is useful for users and executives but also has tips and tricks for Salesforce admins. Today I’m talkin’ to the admins. (Of course, if you’re reading this and you’re not an admin, stick around. You might find some ideas you want to ask your admin to implement…)
Don’t Settle for Default
I want to talk about page layouts. I want to start talking about making your Salesforce instance fun, and functional, and helpful to your colleagues doing their jobs. I want to ask if you’ve still got the default page template for most of your Lightning record pages? Please tell me you don’t.
[Quick aside for definitions: A “page layout” is the layout of fields for a Salesforce object. This is controlled in Setup>Object Manager>[object]>Page Layouts. It’s where you add or remove fields from the page and has a very “classic” look to it.
A “Lightning Record Page” is the tool that allows you to add components like tabs, single or multiple related lists, even Rich Text components. The Details component on a Lightning Record Page shows the fields that you control with the Page Layout. As an admin, the easiest way to get to editing Lightning Record Pages is to click the gear and choose “Edit Page.” Besides the formal “Lightning Record Page,” I will also call these “LEX Page” or “Lightning Page.”]
Here’s what I mean: The default Lightning record page in a new Salesforce org or on any new object uses a template that puts a tab component on the left with tabs including Details and Related. On the right is the Activity Feed and Chatter (if enabled for that object.) I refer to this as the two thirds/one third split because–that’s right!–the left-hand side is 2/3 of the page and…well I think you get it…
Salesforce actually calls this template “Header, Subheader, and Right Sidebar.” But that’s an awful mouthful.
The problem with this default page, in my humble opinion, is that it doesn’t use space efficiently. The Details component rarely needs to use two thirds of your screen width. (Most fields are going to show just a handful of characters.) For some simple objects that have just a handful of fields it’s actually harder to read with so much whitespace.
And the real horror of the two thirds/one third is what happens when you start to get creative with your Lightning page. Let’s say you put a single related list component in that right-hand column. This is a pretty common way to highlight some information that is useful for your users. Here I’ve added the Opportunities related list and it’s got a couple of donations showing.
If you ask me, it’s really hard to glean information about those donations when they show up as “tiles” like this. But when the component is only on one third of the screen, it only displays as tiles. And you only see a max of three.
If you click on View All at the bottom, you’ll see you’ll see more fields, plus they’re laid out in columns so you can easily compare the items in the list. (Now I start to wonder if this donor is losing interest, because I can immediately see that their monthly donations are going down. Uh oh!) But that took an extra click.
Look how much more functional that related list is if we change the LEX Page Template to the 50/50 split:
Now you can see the progression month to month right here on the page. Plus on the left there’s still plenty of room for the Details fields.
It takes about six clicks to change the page template:
1. Open the Lightning App Builder (Gear>Edit Page)
2. Click on the Change Template button on the right.
3. Select “Header and Two Equal Regions” (which is what Salesforce calls the 50/50 split.)
4. Click Next
5. Accept the screen that says which components will move to which section.
6. Save your changes. (If necessary, Activate the page.)
I do this on literally every single object. I just wish there were a way to set it as my default instead of having to change each, one at a time. I think that one simple change makes for far more functional page layouts. Of course, I’ve got much more to say about making pages beautiful and functional. But this one simple step is a huge start.
So what are you waiting for? Go change your page templates!