How to Create and Customize Lightning Apps


In layman’s terms, an App is a cluster of items that act together to serve a particular function. You may have noticed multiple apps on Salesforce while navigating the platform via the App Launcher – Sales, Service, Marketing and Community, to name a few. These apps include many items that work together to serve the User group it’s relevant to. For example, Sales is focused on the sales team.

So what do we do if we require an App that’s not available by default on the platform.? Let’s find out!

What Is a Lightning App in Salesforce?

As in Salesforce Classic, the Lightning Experience has its own set of apps but with additional functionalities.

A couple of their unique features include:

  • We can brand these Apps with a custom colour and logo!
  • We can include a utility bar.
  • We can have console navigation in addition to the standard navigation.
  • We can include Lightning Page tabs in these Apps.
  • Upgradable Tabs!

We’ll look into these features in detail as we progress.

Simply put, a Lightning App is a collection of pieces (objects, tabs, and other items) working in tandem to serve a particular function. These pieces may include :

  • Standard and Custom Objects
  • Visualforce tabs
  • Lightning Component Tabs
  • Web tabs
  • Canvas Apps
  • Lightning page tabs
  • Lightning Voice

Navigating a Lightning App

We know what a Lightning App is, how it works in our favour, and the various items it can include. We’ve covered a lot, but before we jump into creating a Custom Lightning App, let’s take a walk through a Lightning App and learn how to navigate it.

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The Navigation Bar at the top of the page makes the lives of our Users a breeze. It includes the App Launcher (1) for easy access to other items and apps. The App Name (2) with custom colors and branding for easy identification.

The navigation bar also includes items such as Accounts(3) for easy navigation, and the drop-down menu included with these items enables us to build records and retrieve recent records and lists directly from the navigation bar.

Meet the Lightning Experience App Manager

The App Manager is your one-stop shop for managing all apps on Lighting Experience.

Follow these steps to view the App Manager.

1. Click the gear icon on the top-right corner of your org and select Setup from there.

2. Enter ‘App Manager’ in the Quick Find Box, and then select App Manager.

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3. You should be on the Lightning Experience App Manager page now.

Now that we’re on the App Manager, let’s learn how to navigate the page.

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  • The App Manager lists all your Salesforce Apps.
  • We can sort the list based on a certain column by clicking on the column header (1).
  • We can create Lightning Apps or Connected Apps here (2).
  • We can see the apps that are Visible in Lightning Experience (3) (More on that soon).
  • Manage Apps(4).

What does that “Visible in Lightning” column mean?

Let’s do a deep dive into the Visible in the Lightning column in the Lightning Experience App Manager. Let’s break it down.

  • You can see from the App Type column in the App Manager that there are two sets of apps: Classic and Lightning.
  • In a Lightning column, A Visible checkmark simply means the app is accessible via the App Launcher and fully functional in the Lightning Experience.
  • Those Classic Apps with no checkmark are available only on Salesforce Classic.
  • Classic Apps marked as Visible in Lightning are available in Lightning Experience.


Create a Lightning App

In the previous section, we created a Custom Object, Energy Audit with Custom Fields in preparation for an App for the consultants of a business that supplies solar components and systems. The business now offers personalized energy assessments to its customers and needs a place to track and manage the results of those consultations, this is where the App, Energy Consultations comes into play. With Salesforce, creating an App is a no-brainer! Let’s get started.

1. In Setup, enter App Manager in the Quick Find Box, then select App Manager.

2. Click New Lightning App on the top-right corner of the page.

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3. Enter the following details to finish setting up the app:

  • App Name: Energy Consultations
  • Description: A place to track and manage the results of personalized energy consultations.
  • Image: Upload an image of your choice. It can animate GIFs too! You can use a JPG, PNG, BMP, or GIF image smaller than 5 MB size. For better results, upload an image with a resolution 128 x 128 pixels.
  • Primary Hex Color Value : #EEDF0B
  • Org Theme Options: Select the checkbox.
  • App Options: Leave it as is.
  • Utility Items: Don’t add any.
  • Navigation Items: Add the following: Home, Chatter, Groups, Energy Audits, Accounts, Contacts, Products, Tasks
  • Assigned to user profile: System Administrator

4. Click Save & Finish, and we’re good to go!

That’s how easy it is to create an App on Salesforce. Child’s play, isn’t it? Follow these steps to take a look at what we just created.

1. From the App Launcher, locate and select Energy Consultations.

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2. This is our new app! It’s got all the custom branding we gave it – custom colour and logo. How cool is this!?

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Recommendations for Creating Apps in Lightning Experience

New Custom Apps are just a click away, but keep these points in mind before creating more Apps on the Lightning Experience.

  • Talk to your users! Find out what matters to them and what their priorities are (Users can post feedback to a Chatter group, publish polls. Or you can always schedule a lunch session, and everyone can express their view).
  • Now that you have a list of all Objects and Items that everyone in your org wants consider trimming down the list, keep the high-priority items on top and move the low-priority items to the bottom. You can eliminate those low-priority items ( they’re always available via the App Launcher).

That’s it, you’re good to go! Create Amazing Apps for your Users and be the rockstar Admin that your Users look up to!

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  • Barry Allen

    A Full Stack Developer with 10+ years of experience in different domain including SAP, Blockchain, AI and Web Development.

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