Salesforce Lightning has been a buzz word in the Salesforce ecosystem for the past 2 years. However, most companies that I speak with are unable to actually utilize the new Lightning Experience due to the infancy and restrictions on the new model of design. Specifically, there is a huge roadblock with not being able to easily access custom apps or tabs with a single click.
Salesforce recently published a FAQ about some of the changes they will be making to the Lightning Experience navigation with the Winter 17 release. There isn't a lot of information on this, but it does look like it could be a good starting point to resolving some of the bigger roadblocks companies have before switching to Lightning Experience.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What's Changing In Winter 17?
When designing Lightning Pages you will be able to create custom Lightning Tabs and custom navigation menus. The Tabs aren't necessarily a new feature, but when paired with the custom navigation menu options it will, hopefully, bridge a gap that currently exists.
Whether you're building your Lightning Components from scratch, or using a platform like SuPICE, the changes that are being made to this navigation menu will be in favor of customizing the Lightning Experience even further.
Below is an example that Salesforce has published about how the new navigation will look in the Winter 17 release:
There are a few things to point out here. The Lightning Experience navigation is transitioning from the current sidebar to more of an updated version of what we see in Classic. This new navigation will also allow for swapping quickly between apps and tabs like we are accustomed to with Classic. Hopefully, this lives up to the expectations we all have for how to get around the Salesforce environment when we have highly customized orgs. Switching between apps and custom tabs is a critical part of business and this new navigation menu in combination with the custom Lightning Experience menus sounds promising. Here is a breakdown of the 3 areas pointed out in the image:
1. Name of menu/Lightning App. This will allow us to quickly select and switch between the Lightning menu options or apps that we have built within the org.
2. Branding Image. We took this for granted in Classic, but we will be able to finally brand the Lightning apps with custom logos/images.
3. Branding Colors. Being able to brand the environment to look like our business is becoming more of a focal point for the new Lightning UI and it's quite appealing.
This new navigation does not affect the mobile experience, but it will change how the desktop users leverage Lightning Experience. These changes will be rolled out in 2 phases, so I would definitely recommend reading the FAQ to better understand how to prepare yourself for this upcoming change. If you haven't yet begun using Lightning Experience then you won't have to worry about that stuff quite yet.
Lightning Experience is making good strides toward being usable by larger companies and companies who have highly customized environments. Many people I speak with have several roadblocks to switching to Lightning Experience and the custom navigation is almost always at the top of the list. Thankfully Salesforce is listening and adjusting based on what is preventing people from moving forward with Lightning Experience. I would highly recommend looking into what road blocks still exist for you once the Winter 17 release notes have been announced as there are many changes coming that will break down some of these walls.