Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Rakesh Gupta
Big Idea or Enduring Question:
What are the best alternatives to Experience Cloud on the market? And is it possible to find a no-code tool that empowers you to build fully customizable portals and apps?
After reading this blog, you will have:
- An understanding of Salesforce Experience Cloud, including strengths and weaknesses.
- Knowledge of the pros and cons of using custom development to create web apps and portals.
- An introduction to Titan Web, with an explanation of how this zero code tool can give you the freedom to create any web app or portal you like.
Business Use case
Isabella Stewart, a Salesforce Administrator at Gurukul On Cloud (GoC), was approached by Sales Director Eric Brown. Eric wants a fully digitized system for managing internal HR processes. The HR manager and her team have their hands full using manual and partly digitized processes for recruiting, managing payrolls, and taking care of employee well-being. Ensuring that all paperwork and admin is up to date is wasting up to 12 hours every week! It’s starting to become overwhelming.
The enterprise wants a cost-effective, fully customizable employee portal, integrated with Salesforce, that requires no coding or special technical expertise to implement. They know Salesforce Experience Cloud is one possible solution but are also worried that it is expensive and not flexible enough for their needs. So what are the Experience Cloud alternatives?
Experience Cloud Explained
Salesforce Experience Cloud, formerly known as Salesforce Community, was introduced in 2013 as a platform for building branded online communities. Over the years, Salesforce Experience Cloud evolved with updates and enhancements. Today, it serves as a comprehensive solution for creating engaging portals, web applications, communities, and self-service experiences, empowering organizations to deliver seamless interactions and drive customer, partner, and employee engagement.
Creating web apps and self-service portals with Experience Cloud can enhance your employees experience in the workplace and take pressure off your HR department. A self-service portal or web app built with Experience Cloud provides employees with direct access to their personal and professional information, making it easy to update information and records at any time or place.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Experience Cloud to build portals for your organization
Biggest Pros of Experience Cloud:
- Ready-to-go templates to boost your implementation
- Lightning Bolt solutions available for free/purchase in the Salesforce AppExchange
- Full access to Customer 360 data saved in Salesforce
- Salesforce Experience Cloud works via intuitive drag-and-drop software so you don’t need to have any special technical expertise or coding knowledge
- Given that Experience Cloud is native to Salesforce, you don’t have to perform any further integration work. The software already speaks the language of Salesforce Admins and has the UI they would be familiar with
- You can create public and private pages. The advantage of this is that only users with the appropriate access permissions will be able to visit specific spaces
- The out-of-the-box options from Experience Cloud give you fast G2M and you can most likely build your portal or site in a day or two
- You also get the option to style your portal or website the way you want using custom images and colors to match the look and feel of your brand
- Mobile ready
Cons of Experience Cloud:
- The out-of-the-box options don’t give you much flexibility to customize and adjust your page layout to suit your needs
- Experience Cloud is somewhat limited from a user experience perspective, for instance, you can’t make use of repeated elements, in-line editing of tables, modal screens, and other engaging elements. For example, you might want to create an element that opens the user’s camera library when clicked on but with Salesforce Experience Cloud this is impossible
- Salesforce Experience Cloud is definitely on the pricey side, so if you want to go with this solution then be prepared to pay up
- You can’t differentiate between the Desktop and Mobile User Experience using out-of-the-box options. To do so you need to draw on custom development.
- No real-time input validations. You have to first click on the “Save” button
- Integrations outside of Salesforce are complex tasks and require extensive development
- A limited number of templates are available and these only cover specific use cases. This means that you might not find the right template for your business needs
Example of Salesforce Experience Cloud Templates below. Credit: https://www.salesforce.com/products/experience-cloud/features/templates/
Can Custom Development Overcome the Limitations of Experience Cloud?
Drawing on the resources of custom development is another way in which you can build a portal or website to suit the needs of your business. And in many ways, this option helps you overcome the limitations of Experience Cloud. Here are some of the top reasons to use custom development as well as its drawbacks:
Advantages of Custom Development:
- The beauty of using custom development to build your apps and portals is that you can do anything you want with your blank canvas, for example, integrate it with multiple systems external to Salesforce
- You can employ developers to create any UX you want, so you are not limited to the Salesforce UX when determining the experience customers have when visiting your site
- You can create dynamic layouts for any device, for example, laptop, or mobile without restrictions
- Your portal or site can be tailor-made for any use case you can think of. If you can dream it, you can do it!
- Provides greater control and ownership: with a self-developed portal or website, organizations have full ownership and control over the intellectual property, source code, and future enhancements
Custom development offers the big perk of giving you absolute freedom to create the portal of your dreams without any barriers, restrictions, or compromises. But this method is not without its downside. See below for some of the major pain points:
Disadvantages of Custom Development:
- Lack of technical expertise: developing a portal or web app requires specialized technical skills and resources
- Time and resource constraints: building a web app or portal can be a time-consuming process that requires significant investment
- Go-to-market can be severely delayed, which could negatively impact your business goals
- Rapid technological advancements: the technology landscape is continuously evolving, and new features, frameworks, and platforms emerge regularly. Developing a web app or portal in-house requires staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and best practices
- Maintenance and support challenges: once a self-service portal or web app is developed, ongoing maintenance and support are essential for its smooth operation
- Essentially, you will find yourself dependent on development resources and hamstrung when you want to carry out simple updates. Doesn’t sound fun!
- Integration issues: developing a web app or portal internally may pose integration clashes with existing systems, databases, or third-party services
- Security and compliance considerations: building a secure app or portal involves implementing robust security measures and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations
- Focus on core competencies: organizations should assess whether developing an app or portal themselves aligns with their core competencies and strategic priorities
- Money, money, money! This is definitely your most expensive option so be prepared to rack up a bill
Doing it all with Titan’s Digital Experience Platform!
Titan is a complete experience platform that gives you the freedom to build your own portals, self-service sites, Salesforce forms, surveys, and much more. And it is one of the top alternatives to Experience Cloud on the market.
Titan is a zero-code platform with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that empowers Salesforce admins to build and configure powerful websites for any industry and use case. So the real question is: how does Titan measure up to Experience Cloud and does it also have the edge over custom development? Below we elaborate on how Titan Web can enable you to build stunning websites and custom portals:
Titan’s winning points:
- Zero code platform with an easy drag-and-drop interface, so you don’t need to spend money on pricey development
- Real-time bi-directional integration with Salesforce and full access to Customer 360
- Ready-to-go templates to speed up your go-to-market
- 100% flexible user experience per device for tailored customer journeys
- Fully branded to match the look and feel of your organization
- Mobile-first approach gives you the ability to scale up
- Fully secured and compliant with leading regulatory frameworks like GDPR, SOC 2, and HIPAA
- Create customized profiles for customers and partners that are easy to implement
- Generate documents and sign them from within your app or portal
- Offline capabilities so you can use this tool even when you are out of internet range
- Multilingual and multi-currency compatible
- Built-in 3rd party integrations
- Full version management capabilities
- Cost-effective compared to competitors
Now, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of Titan:
- Onboarding time can vary between 4-20 hours depending on the complexity of your use case
- Occasionally, for very complex logic or layout design, an organization will need to add JS and/or CSS code to adjust to its needs
- Website domain/subdomain is limited to one per customer. Additional domains can be purchased at an extra cost
Titan’s secret weapon is its power to create fully customizable web apps without having to write a single line of code. No compromise and no hidden agenda so you can speed up your go-to-market.
Comparison of Experience Cloud Versus Competitors
Above, we have taken a deep dive into Salesforce Experience Cloud and its leading alternatives. But what’s the bottom line, and who comes out the real winner? Take a look at our comparison table below to find out:
|Experience Cloud||Custom Development||Titan Platform|
|Long Time Maintenance Effort||Low||Very High||Low|
|Required Resources for the Project||SF Admin||Developers||SF Admin|
|Layout Flexibility||Very little||Full||Full|
|User Experience||Same as Salesforce. Can’t create your own user experience||You can develop anything you can dream of||Almost anything you can dream of|
|Branding||Yes with custom themes||Yes||Yes with custom themes|
|Salesforce Integration||Yes||Requires development per integration||Yes|
|3rd party Integrations||Requires paid add-ons or development||Requires paid addons or development||Yes|
|Real-Time Data Validations||No||Yes||Yes|
|Workflow and Automation||Yes||No||Yes|
|Mobile||Mobile Ready||Fully dynamic layout per device||Fully dynamic layout per device|
|Salesforce Knowledge||Compatible||Requires development||Compatible|
|Salesforce Digital Engagement||Compatible||Requires development||Compatible|
It’s 100% up to you to decide the features and abilities you need to build your dream websites and portals. But it’s clear that if you are looking for a no-code, ultra-flexible, and cost-effective web tool that enhances user experience then Titan is a great option.
Business Use Case: The Solution
You might remember from earlier in this article that an enterprise was looking for a flexible, no-code solution to build an HR portal for employees. They chose to use Titan and these are the results:
- Employees log into the portal:
- They get a 2-factor authentication sent to their email so that they can log into the portal without managing any other passwords.
- Web pages and portals display dynamically according to user authentication providing a dynamic user experience with every click.
- Everything is built with only drag-and-drop tools. No coding is necessary, with all data flowing to and from Salesforce in real-time.
- The HR Portal gives employees easy access to personal and professional information, making it super convenient to update records and their own personal details:
- Customized digital forms have eliminated entry errors and data inaccuracies with dynamic pre-fill using Salesforce data.
- In the past, every time an employee wanted to book their vacation days, they would have to fill in a manual leave form, scan it, and email it to HR for approval. Now they just click on the vacation day tab to manage leave requests
- The Employee HR Portal allows employees to log IT equipment orders directly from their mobile devices, laptops, and desktops.
- Employees can put in company expense requests before they are processed for payroll, and they can raise the requests to get paid before the payroll cut-off date. This means no wait for expense claims to be paid out.
- There is even a Knowledge Center where employees can get all their FAQs answered and troubleshoot queries fast:
- HR saves 40 hours a month on manual work (including payroll!) and employees are more engaged!
- The enterprise managed to do this all under budget and in record time, without having to implement any code or custom development.
Proof of Concept
Check out this no-code HR portal where employees can log in and undertake various self-service actions:
Salesforce Experience Cloud is a well-known solution with a decent track record in enabling businesses to build apps and portals to enhance customer experience. Even so, it is not without its limitations: a lack of flexibility when it comes to the user experience, no real option of differentiating between the Desktop and Mobile Experience, and difficulty integrating with tools outside of Salesforce to name only a few!
Using custom development to create your own tailor-made app or portal will solve most of Experience Cloud’s biggest problems. With custom development, you get complete freedom to create any portal or app you can dream of and get dynamic layouts for any device. While custom development mitigates Experience Cloud’s pain points, this solution comes with challenges of its own which include complicated dev work and maintenance, extra expense, and slower go-to-market.
Titan wins big by giving you the best of both worlds: you get drag-and-drop software combined with the freedom and flexibility provided by custom development. If you are searching for the leading alternative to Experience Cloud and liked what you read, then get in touch today!
What is one thing you learned from this post? How do you envision applying this new knowledge in the real world? Feel free to share in the comments below.