Written by: Kyle Hagan

The self-proclaimed "Lord of the Nerd Herd", Kyle is a Salesforce developer and admin with experience in javascript, HTML Apex, and various other Salesforce elements. He is Conga product certified, which means he know lots of sales based processes. While at FirmWorks, Kyle helped pilot the design and development of FirmWorks Files and Notes.

February 26, 2024

Why Use An Experience?

While many companies use Salesforce as a source of data, there are times when the customer-facing side of the company also needs to be sourced by that data. There are many headless solutions that can separate your Salesforce data source from the web development team, but some orgs need an interface for customers to view, interact with, and create data in.

This interface could save an internal team time and energy spent on monotonous clicking, calling to validate data, or routing a customer and allow them to focus on higher priority tasks instead. Which brings us to Salesforce Experience.

Now, the when, why, and how for implementing and using an Experience has been widely discussed (see our good friends over at Salesforce Ben), but there is still nuance to that discussion that deserves our attention.

1. Data Collection:

From personal details to information for internal processes, an Experience can easily facilitate individuals to populate your Salesforce data with relevant information straight from the source … them, the customers!

2. Facilitating Collaboration:

For example, applying for a home loan, coaching someone for a job or a new life event, where there are frequent touch points with clients, with an Experience you can easily have someone log into a portal and provide a quick update.

3. External Requests:

Things like transcripts, construction documents, or safety data sheets can all be provided on an Experience via an automation and keep internal users from being bombarded with superfluous requests.

So where do Files fit into the idea of using an Experience?

The Wile of a File

Files are typically the main reason businesses want to create an Experience in the first place, to facilitate the document heavy aspects of doing business with external parties—data-heavy processes, uploads, downloads, and more.

If you’ve worked with Salesforce Files before you make have noticed they are not ideal for most use cases, whether sharing them externally or simply knowing what documents you have or don’t have in the system as part of a process. 

Many businesses and teams on Salesforce use an external file storage system recreating architecture that mimics their Salesforce architecture, and have designated personnel manually manage those systems in attempt to maintain synchronicity, right?

But, How’s THAT going?! Not great, I’d venture.

This is the part where FirmWorks Files (FWF) comes to your aid, making your Experience file management a breeze.

Salesforce Experience in 60-seconds or less

If you already have a concrete understanding of Salesforce Experiences, please take the next 60-seconds to consider how your interactions with the base systems have gone and then jump to the next section. If you have not, read on!
Here are the Salesforce Experience basics—
First, decide if you are building an experience for partners or customers. This will guide you through the license type you need and determine what objects and functions the Experience users have access to. Next, build your site. Salesforce’s Experience builder allows you to use custom org content and a WISIWYG build to allow easy and functional front-end building  Finally, set up security and provision users. This process is nice and simple and results in a stylish website branded with your content and backed by the data architecture and security that is at the core of Salesforce. Easy, right? Now on to the good stuff—

How Firmworks Files Can Take the Basic and Make It Brilliant!

Data Gathering

If your Experience is set up to allow clients to enter data about themselves or their organization then you will likely be asking constituents for both basic information and various kinds of files—certifications, organization documentation, bank statements, etc.

This type of information is most commonly derived from a loan, grant, or support program application portal. Guiding individuals through an application process in an Experience is exactly what it was built to do, but there are quite a few pain points throughout the process, including requesting documents. 

Out of the box, once a file is uploaded into the system there is no easy way to tell what its contents are anymore. It could be a pdf of a certification or Grandma’s Thumbprint cookie recipe; you just don’t know. From an organizational and efficiency standpoint, it is an untenable situation that requires a seemingly unnecessary and elaborate process or an alternative solution.

This is where FirmWorks Files comes in. With FWF, you can set up automated naming conventions and tagging for files, which allow you to easily see, search, and sort all of your uploads once in the system. By using the FWF configurable upload button, you can predetermine which files clients upload from your experience and add metadata to them at the same time!

Beyond making document content visible so you can see which files you DO have, it is also useful in many cases to understand which documents you DON’T have. With the base package, it’s difficult for an applicant within the system to see when a document(s) is missing from a process without needing to contact a member of your team.

Missing documents can lead to delays in the application process and potentially frustrated customers. By using FirmWorks Files you can combine file uploads and associated record updates and related information for both the Experience members and internal users. The ability to trigger a process automation like this at file upload is a huge boon for the data gathering process.

Collaborative Processes

Some Experiences exist to allow your internal support members, coaches, or consultants to actively interact with your customers. These collaborative processes may require customers to upload a variety of file types—video of reproduction steps, weekly result excel sheets, current process framework diagrams—not just pdfs or word documents, but ANY file type. Unlike the standard Salesforce File, FWF not only allows you to upload whatever file type you require, but also a multitude of files simultaneously, with metadata, and without having to upload duplicates that will inevitably and unnecessarily consume excessive amounts of storage. 

Collaborative processes can cause further frustration when a client doesn’t upload the required data for a meeting prior to that meeting. This is another box ticked by FWF, which can leverage its file reporting software to trigger events based on missing documents, sending those individuals emails and reminders about upcoming meetings, any missing documentation needed for discussion, as well as updating them on their overall status within the process.

These kinds of updates keep everyone involved with the process on task, on time, and abreast of any potential snags before they escalate to problems.


Another situation that could potentially arise with an Experience is when a client needs information from you and your company. These requests can eat away at the time and brain space of internal employees as they can consist of time sensitive materials—statement of benefits, transcripts, company product white papers, data sheets—that could potentially prolong or delay the process. Yes, in some cases these documents could be hosted on the company website, but, contingent on the content, others may require authentication to access the information.

FWF can support this in a couple of different ways:

 By automatically creating and limiting document sharing, this way individuals can only download what they need from the portal.

 If the documents cannot be made readily available in the portal, you can set up a request action to allow that user to request that information, which can subsequently be sent to them via email.

 The best practice, and our preferred method, is using public links with passwords, which allows you complete control of that information, maintains security, and avoids pesky email attachment size restrictions.

Do It For A Better Experience

Experiences and Files go hand-in-hand. Acknowledging that one comes with the other and planning for it will make your users and clients happier. Combining that mindset with FirmWorks Files can help you make a seamless Experience for your users regardless of your business vertical.

Whether you have an existing experience or are considering building a new one, don’t overlook how you approach Files. If you don’t want to spend the brain power considering  how to handle files, let us do it for you! You can also try FirmWorks Files yourself and see how our native solution can provide you a better Experience with Salesforce. visit the AppExchange to start a free trial today.

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