Here I was, largely minding my own business when my manager made a simple request that sent me on a path of existential questions about which feature of Salesforce to use when. I thought it might be (selfishly) helpful to write out these scenarios and see if any other community members faced similar tradeoffs or resolved the dilemma in an innovative way.

My manager innocently suggested that we add some data visualization to the home page for staff with Admin permissions, so that we could better monitor incoming requests and take action quickly if there is a data discrepancy that shows up in a report. I thought this was a great idea! We already have some dashboards to track these things, but of course, we have to remember to check them. Better to smack us in the face on the homepage, right?

Photo by Lukas on

Since the request specifically included a clause about having homepage sections that appear for some people and not others, I immediately thought that a Lightning Page was the way to go. Ding, ding, ding! Sounds like an exam question from the Lightning App Builder certification. Lightning Home Pages have the ability to vary by profile or even by app! So, I quickly duplicated our existing home page, added the new stuff, and made it the default home page for Admin staff on the standard app. Badda bing, badda boom.

(Now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I could have also accomplished this by making some elements conditionally visible, while keeping them in the same Home Page all along!)

Anyway, now that I was in the Lightning App Builder interface, I started to remember all of the COOL things that Lightning Pages can do, like embed photo slide shows, accordion page organizers, list views, and most important of all, rich text!

“Rich Text”

I’ve built a lot of Salesforce dashboards in my day… heck, I even built one in about 10 minutes yesterday! And in all of my dashboard building, I’ve veritably YEARNED for rich text to explain why a given element is there, or what the viewer is supposed to DO upon analyzing the information presented.

I realized that I could rebuild my dashboards as Lightning Pages with Report Charts, plus little bits of text between them where I can link out to documentation or include brief explanations.

It seems… so…. simple now that I’m on the other side of that lightbulb moment!

Dashboard Only Features

I’ve spent the last few days turning this idea over in my head. I’ve come up with a few things that you can ONLY do in a Dashboard, therefore, if they are important to you, then Dashboards are without a doubt the way to go.

  1. Dashboard Filters: while you CAN create reports that filter to the viewer’s data only (and embed them in a Lightning Page), the only way to have customizable full-dashboard filters that can be manually adjusted is to use Dashboards. However, we are limited to only 5 (five!) 🙁
  2. Scheduled Dasbhoards: if you are in love with getting dashboards emailed to you (or your executives are!), then keep ’em in their current state
  3. Specific elements: Some dashboard elements are not available in report charts (ie odometer, metric, matrix) so if you have your heart set on those, then the Lightning Page thing might not work for you. (However, some of these *can* be approximated with other LEX components or even custom components.
  4. Ability to custom-resize elements on the grid. (In Lightning Pages, you are restricted just to the drag and drop areas of the page).

Lightning Pages Only Features

  1. Rich text elements!!!!!!!!!
  2. Any custom or community-sourced custom lightning components (infinite potential!)
  3. Ability to assign as homepage for certain people

Middle Path

Since there is a Dashboard Component that you can put in a Lightning Page, you can put the whole kit and kaboodle in there and get the best of both worlds (kinda). That’s what we ended up doing and I’m happy with it! But I still have a nagging desire to make a documented dashboard in a Lightning Page…. do you?

3 thoughts on “data viz in salesforce: dashboards or lightning pages?

  1. Hi Samantha,

    This was great! I’ve done something similar, where I put a dashboard element on a home screen for various profiles in my organization. That dashboard element takes up about 75% of the home screen (it kind of has to, unless you built a one column dashboard, putting it on the home screen kind of squeezes it a bit). Then in a skinny column on the right, we have several nested accordion elements – rich text area full of helpful links and documents for the whole organization, links to CRM training videos I’ve made for the organization, upcoming events in a list view, conditional report charts or profile for error checking, etc. I found that decking out the home screen for each profile has really helped users keep track of what they need to. Fun to hear someone else is doing this!

    Very best, Vince

    On Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 8:16 PM The Data are Alright wrote:

    > Samantha Shain posted: ” Here I was, largely minding my own business when > my manager made a simple request that sent me on a path of existential > questions about which feature of Salesforce to use when. I thought it might > be (selfishly) helpful to write out these scenarios and s” >

    1. Ooh I really like the inclusion of the accordian element here! Excited to experiment further. Thank you for writing!

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