Cloudy the goat sitting on a wood stump next to text that says, "Build Your First App on Salesforce."

How to Build Your First App on Salesforce


If you’re ready to build your first platform app on Salesforce, congrats! Before diving in, it’s crucial to understand the specific needs of your organization. To get started, lean into your business analyst skills and conduct a business analysis and discovery process with your users and stakeholders. Ask yourself what problem you can solve with an app, where you can find efficiencies for your users, and how you can help your company grow or scale.

If your users are already using sales or service apps, investigate where there may be processes moving off Salesforce. For example, you might find spreadsheets that contain asset information or post-sales project details stored elsewhere. Perhaps customer stories and references are kept in a text app. These are all excellent candidates for your first Salesforce app. To learn more about your users’ workflows, try observing their day-to-day work to gain insights into their pain points and inefficiencies. You can do this through shadowing, user interviews, or simply gathering feedback.

Once you have a good understanding of your organization’s specific needs and pain points, you can start building an app that meets those needs.

Steps to build your first app on Salesforce

1. Sign up for a Salesforce Developer Edition or identify the sandbox you’ll build in.

Before you can start building your app, you’ll need access to Salesforce. Luckily, Salesforce offers a free, fully-functional version called the Salesforce Developer Edition. This version is specifically designed for admins who are building custom apps or learning more about Salesforce features. If you have access to a production org, try to get hands-on with a sandbox environment where you can see how this app will work with your existing data and customizations.

2. Familiarize yourself with the Salesforce basic data model and objects.

As an admin, you may already be familiar with the Salesforce standard data model and objects, but it’s important to review them before you start building your app. Understanding objects, fields, and relationships is essential to building a solid data model that will support your app. Schema Builder is a great tool to help you visualize your data model and get started with building your app.

3. Identify the requirements for your app.

Before you start building your app, you need to understand what it needs to do and what information it needs to store. As an admin, you’re in a unique position to gather requirements from your users and stakeholders. One way to do this is by conducting user interviews, surveys, or focus groups to better understand the specific pain points that your app can address. Copy and customize this handy template to start asking questions with your users.

4. Create custom objects and fields.

Once you’ve identified the requirements for your app, you can create custom objects and fields in Salesforce to store the information your app needs. As an admin, you have the power to create and manage objects and fields using the Object Manager in Salesforce.

5. Customize your user experience.

Once you’ve created the objects and fields that your app needs, you can start fine-tuning the user interface. With the Lightning App Builder, you can determine which related objects and fields are visible, and where they are on the page. You can also add custom branding and styles to make your app look and feel like a natural part of Salesforce. The App Builder is a dynamic and interactive tool that allows you to preview your changes as you make them.

6. Add automation and actions.

With Salesforce, you can automate processes and actions to save time and improve accuracy. Flow Builder is an excellent tool to automate tasks like sending emails, updating records, and creating tasks. You can also add custom actions to your app, such as creating a new record or updating an existing one. Building automations into your new app will help with user adoption, data cleanliness, and performance.

7. Build user access and permissions.

Building user access and permissions for your Salesforce app is a critical step to ensure your app is secure and accessible only to the right users. Salesforce provides tools to help admins manage user access and permissions, including permission sets, profiles, and org settings. Permission sets allow you to grant additional permissions to specific users or groups of users without changing their profile. This can be helpful if you have users who need access to specific objects or functionality that’s not included in their profile. For example, you might create a permission set for a user who needs access to a custom object that’s not included in their profile. When you’re building custom platform apps and need to grant permission to specific sets of users, permission sets are a great solution.

8. Test your app.

Before you launch your app, it’s important to test it thoroughly. As an admin, you can use sandboxes, user acceptance testing (UAT), and user access and permissions to ensure that your app meets your users’ needs. You can also involve your users in the testing process to hear their valuable input on the app. Seek feedback from your users! Ensuring you’ve built the right app, and that it performs in expected ways, is a huge part of user adoption and app success.

9. Deploy your app. 

Once you’ve tested your app and made any necessary changes, you’re ready to deploy it to your organization! There are a number of tools available to you to bring your new app to production from your sandbox. Change sets are an admin tool to bring customization changes between orgs, and DevOps center is the next phase of change management for Salesforce environments. Whichever tool is the right fit for you, once you deploy your app to production—adoption, training, and enablement with your users is key to ensuring your app adds value to the company!

You reviewed the steps; now check out this TrailblazerDX ’23 session to see a demo of how you can get hands-on and build your first app!

As an admin, building an app on Salesforce is a great way to get hands-on with the Salesforce platform, build your admin skills, and solve business problems for your company. So, what app can you get started with today to help your users be more effective and efficient?



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