5 High-Value Communities Enhancements in the Salesforce Winter ’21 Release

Phil Weinmeister

Continuing to follow the automobile industry’s lead on naming the latest release for the upcoming year, Salesforce will be delivering the Winter ‘21 release to all production orgs by October 17, 2020.

If you have an existing digital experience on the Salesforce platform (or plan on launching one), you should be aware of a few valuable additions to Communities and CMS in Winter ‘21. I have sifted the entire list of updates and identified five enhancements you should be aware of. In no particular order, here they are:

Manage Your Pages and URLs with the Pages Menu

Official description: Now it’s easier to organize and restructure your pages and page URLs in Experience Builder. Edit your pages to suit your content needs with the Pages menu and see these updates in your live site’s URL.

My take: This is probably something that we should have seen a while ago, but, nonetheless, it’s a welcome addition to the digital experience platform. This provides the ability to create a hierarchy / directory of pages, vs. the currently flat structure.

New Features in the Winter '21 Release

Apply Audiences to Record Detail Pages with Record-Based Criteria

Official description: You can now vary what people see on a record detail page using audience criteria based on record fields. For example, you can display different theme layouts when someone is looking at a coffee machine or a box of tea, or different pages for high-value and low-value opportunities. Also, we moved record criteria from the advanced section into the main body of the editor, so you can easily combine it with user criteria to create custom formulas.

My take: This is my personal favorite in Winter ‘21. You can now present an overall record detail page dynamically based on record data. That’s huge. That means that you can show different content or a different layout automatically based on some underlying field value(s). Until now, this was only possible by leveraging record types and that was always considered “advanced” functionality. This opens up options significantly and means a better experience for users.

Let Users Authenticate by SMS

Official description: You can now allow your external users to use SMS as a multi-factor authentication method. No need for downloading special apps—verification can be as easy as getting a text message.

My take: Anything that eases the pain of authentication and/or verification is a welcome addition to Communities. This will encourage more security and it will hopefully mean less work for admins who are asked why a user never received a verification email…

Enable Article Sharing for High-Volume Community Users

Official description: High-volume community users can now use sharing sets and share groups to share Knowledge articles.

My take: I didn’t see this one coming. I mean, a new standard object supported by sharing sets and share groups? Surprising, but useful. Now, you can ensure that contacts on the same account can all see the same articles, if you want to set it up that way.

Salesforce CMS Now Supports Knowledge Articles in the CMS Collections Component

Official description: Create a Knowledge collection from a public list view and display the collection with the Salesforce CMS Collection component.

My take: The first real front-end component for displaying Knowledge articles out-of-the-box. While it won’t do a ton, it will meet a critical need, which is Knowledge article presentation

And, while it doesn’t really fit in the same category, be aware of some critical security changes that impact communities users. You’ve been getting reminders for many months now. Do not ignore this one! If you have any access-related issues in Winter ‘21, read these release notes ASAP.

See any other enhancements you love? Share them on Twitter and mention me (@PhilWeinmeister). Enjoy Winter ‘21!

Phil Weinmeister, blog contributor

Phil Weinmeister is the VP of Product Management at 7Summits. He is a Salesforce MVP with 20 certifications and has authored three books that guide readers through leveraging Salesforce in their digital solutions.

Learn More About Recent Enhancements to Communities

Summer '20 Release