The Salesforce world may seem full of mysteries and perplexing concepts, especially if you are new to the platform and spending late nights studying everything related to it. I’ve been there and done that. Even though there is a dime a dozen of information you sift through to make your knowledge sit steady, there is a way out. This guide is exactly what you need! So, if you’re still racking your brain on the question “What is an app in Salesforce?”, stop it right now.

In this article, we’ll take you through the app in Salesforce, the steps you have to follow to build it (trust us, it is no sweat), and the difference between a standard and a custom application.

Defining Apps in Salesforce

An app in Salesforce is a collection of items such as objects, reports, dashboards, layouts, tabs, Visualforce pages, and other elements that serve together as a variety of functionalities and goals. Besides, applications arrange and represent information, specific to a role or job functions across an organization.

Each application has a name, logo, description, and an assortment of tabs. Thus, if your screen shows something like a Home tab and a default logo, this is already an app we are talking about.

Applications in Salesforce Lightning are available via App Launcher

Imagine a sales representative involved in numerous company processes. They can use the Sales app to understand these processes better. Essential tabs for sales might include Accounts, Events, Organizations, Reports, and Dashboards. The representatives can design each of these items as they see fit.

Furthermore, Salesforce apps help control data access. You can assign different apps to different user profiles, allowing each user to access only the data they need.

Moreover, you can design and manage Salesforce apps in both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience. You can customize each platform so that users in your organization can work more efficiently by simply switching between the tabs. More importantly, the app-building process uses point-and-click logic, eliminating the need for any coding to create them.

Steps for Creating Apps in Salesforce Lightning Experience

This is where the juiciest part begins! Salesforce app creation is a hassle-free, step-by-step process. Take good notice:

Step 1. Navigate to Setup in your organization, type App in Quick Find, and click App Manager.

Step 2. In the top right corner of the Lightning Experience App Manager dashboard, hit New Lightning App.

Step 3. Specify all the details and branding necessary for your application: give your app a name (the Developer’s name is populated automatically), choose an image, select a colour scheme, and click Next.

Step 4. Select the app options, such as navigation and form factor, setup and personalization. Click Next.

Step 5. Add a Utility item (for Desktop only) and hit the Next button.

Step 6. Choose the items to include in the app, and arrange the order in which they appear. Click Next.

Step 7. Choose the user profiles that can access this app. For instance, you can opt for System Administrator, Partner Community User, and so on. Hit Save & Finish.

Voilà! You’ve just created your very first app in Salesforce. Was it mind-wrecking? I doubt it.

Difference Between Standard App and Custom App

As mentioned above, apps in Salesforce aren’t to be put in the same mould. Generally, they are distinguished by standard and custom ones. Let’s elaborate on both of the groups:

  • Standard apps – this is a set of pre-built applications that help you perform all the basic business functions, such as Sales, Marketing, Community, Chatter, and Commerce, to name just a few. They already have ready-made layouts, tabs, and objects. The standard apps might be your best bet if you’re new to the Salesforce landscape.
  • Custom apps – if your business strives for something more exquisite and pursues sophisticated goals (like building a Recruitment application for an HR department), you can go for Salesforce custom apps to design one of your own, with unique customizations, features, tabs, and objects. Custom apps, though, might be a trifle slower compared to the standard ones. For instance, you can leverage these Salesforce app add-ons– AC Events Enterprise, AC MemberSmart, AC Knowledge Management Enterprise, AC Ideas Ultimate, and others for Salesforce Experience Cloud. With them, you can beef up a Salesforce-powered website, be it a member portal, a self-service community, or a non-profit hub, with a wide range of custom functionalities. Do you need to manage members within your organization? Go with AC MemberSmart. Do you feel like the ideas produced in your company vanish into thin air? Install the AC Ideas Ultimate addon. Are you tired of data silos and gaps in knowledge circulation? Your choice is AC Knowledge Management Enterprise.

Salesforce Tabs, Explained in More Detail

Now that you’re well-versed in the Salesforce app creation, let’s move on to the Salesforce tabs we’ve briefly touched upon earlier. But first: what are they?

A tab in Salesforce is an interface component that helps you navigate across an application. After interacting with it, you can view, edit, and enter the information for a specific object. By selecting a tab located at the top of the page, the corresponding home page for the specified object will be displayed. A tab can be linked to an object, a web page, or a Visualforce page.

Second, there are various types of tabs, each serving a dedicated function:

  • Standard taps – this is a standard set of tabs provided by Salesforce, such as Leads, Accounts, Contacts, etc.
  • Custom tabs – these tabs can be used to address unique, customized business requirements. With their help, you might retrieve data, unavailable to you via standard tabs.
  • Visualforce tabs – if you built a custom page using a Visualforce framework, Visualforce tabs let this page be accessed right from the main interface.
  • Web tabs – if you want to check external web content within Salesforce, web tabs can easily display it. This way, a user doesn’t have to leave the Salesforce environment.
  • Lightning page tabs – developed for the sleek Lightning Experience, these tabs allow you to access Lightning App Builder pages directly.

3 Types of Tab Visibility

In Salesforce, it’s all about permissions and secured data access. That is why you can manage tab visibility by user profiles and page layouts. The former grants access to various tabs, objects, and fields. If you are a System Administrator, you can customize user profiles and specify which tabs are visible to a particular user.

In consequence, there are three types of tab visibility in Salesforce:

  • Default on – shows the tab by default to users within the specified profile. Individual users can override this setting for their login;
  • Default off – the tab will be hidden by default for users within the specified profile. They will have to click the + icon on the bar at the top, which is next to all the other tabs visible.
  • Tab Hidden – the tab will be hidden from the bar at the top and a user won’t be able to access it through the + icon.

Bottom line

What is an app in Salesforce? You already know the right answer! With your knowledge of apps and tabs in the complex CRM system of Salesforce, you can plan, create, and customize these elements to meet your organization’s specific needs and requirements. Alternatively, you might choose to delay this and opt for a standard app – that’s also a viable option!

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

An innovative and results-driven marketing professional with a passion for connecting with audiences. Expertise in crafting dynamic campaigns that captivate and convert. Skilled in using diverse channels to drive brand visibility and engagement. Outside of work, I’m a big fan of the outdoors, love traveling, and enjoy playing tennis.