As a Salesforce development partner, we’re often faced with recommending what technology is the best fit for a certain use case during our work with clients. One common question is choosing between two powerful products in the Salesforce ecosystem: Experience Cloud and Heroku.
Every business needs internal and external-facing software to meet its customers’ demands and growth goals. The Salesforce product ecosystem offers a wide variety of solutions to help businesses solve problems in all areas.
While both Heroku and Experience Cloud are great options for building bespoke digital experiences, there are particular benefits that each provides. If you’re considering building a unique digital experience that’s integrated into your Salesforce stack, keep reading.
Experience Cloud: What is it?
Experience Cloud is a Salesforce product designed for creating beautiful digital experiences for customers, employees, and professional partners. The platform boasts a mix of powerful, out-of-the-box components paired with a custom development framework. We typically recommend Experience Cloud for companies looking to build templated portals or web apps.
Heroku: What is it?
Heroku is a cloud platform that enables companies of all sizes to build, deliver, monitor, and scale apps. Heroku embraces the languages of today’s best apps: Ruby, Java, Node, and many more!
Although both markets offer an array of impressive features, there are a few distinct differences between the two.
Speed to Market
With Heroku, we can typically bring a product to market within 2–6 months. Thanks to the Heroku interface, developers can quickly tap into the world of open-source libraries and speed up the development process. Heroku does, however, have more upfront setup work for devs—so getting it off the ground takes a bit longer.
With Experience Cloud, we can bring a product to market in as little as two weeks with standard Salesforce components. Another perk of using this ready-to-go portal solution is that it’s directly integrated to your Salesforce Org and CRM, so no web services nor development is necessary for security protocols & standard portal functionalities.
User Experience, Features, and Branding
The Heroku environment is designed for 100% bespoke software development, allowing for a pixel-perfect user interface. Without a “default” user interface/experience, developers and designers start from scratch and build out a custom app to bring a brand to life. With Heroku, developers can also lean on open-source libraries (such as React components) to improve the user interface.
Experience Cloud offers several different templates for common use cases, including a Customer Portal, a Help Center, and more. Custom features will prolong development time, but the added benefit of custom development on Experience Cloud is direct access to Salesforce APIs to help decrease development time and the ability to build a pixel-perfect UI.
The Mobile Experience
Heroku development offers unlimited opportunities for the type of mobile app you can build. Heroku acts as the back-end infrastructure and API for a mobile app — we most commonly pair Heroku with a mobile user interface technology, such as Ionic, React Native, or Swift.
Experience Cloud enables access to users via a mobile browser or download it from an app store. From a development standpoint, Experience Cloud containerizes the code and compiles it to native mobile. There is often reduced access to hardware or API integrations and interactions with other apps on mobile devices.
Integrating Your App
Heroku offers a database-level bidirectional integration with Salesforce called Heroku Connect. To achieve this integration, developers must define validation rules and relationships, resulting in increased work to set up the infrastructure.
Experience Cloud offers native integration with your Salesforce Org and CRM, which is an enormous benefit for the many companies who use Salesforce every day. It allows you to query Salesforce directly without web services, and all internal CRM configurations (such as permissions and page layouts) integrate with Experience Cloud.
Scaling Your App
Experience Cloud is great for core use cases — such as Case Management, Knowledge Hub, etc. If your digital experience involves significant data storage, such as videos or attachments, scalability can be impacted. Additionally, initial design considerations can have long-term cost implications when scaling on Experience Cloud.
Heroku is ideal for use cases involving rapid growth and volume, as well as mission-critical applications. In most cases, Heroku can scale without directly impacting costs and can handle many concurrent users. With Heroku, it’s also possible to create a streamlined UX to reduce friction and minimize support requests. Having a competent developer is necessary when architecting for scale on Heroku.
Ongoing costs with Experience Cloud development is based on monthly logins or the number of licenses. If you have a predictable and repeatable number of external customers or partners that require access to self-help features, Experience Cloud can be a suitable option. It can become expensive if you expect high traffic with a growing user base.
For Heroku, ongoing costs are based on compute and not directly tied to usage. It’s best for applications that need to scale, such as high intake forms or SaaS applications. Heroku can, however, be on the pricier side for small projects with relatively low usage rates.
The LaunchPad Accelerator
As a Heroku and Experience Cloud development agency, we created the LaunchPad Add-On to help speed up implementation time and handle ongoing maintenance concerns with Heroku. Our Add-On uses an existing Salesforce organization to generate a foundational codebase based on the data needed for the application.
The generated codebase incorporates best practices in application development, drawing from over 300 Heroku applications developed by LaunchPad Lab. With this Accelerator, we’re able to help companies go to market with a fully-fledged solution twice as fast as other solutions.
Let’s Transform Your Digital Experience
If you’re looking for a Salesforce development agency to elevate your digital experience or explore exciting software combinations, LaunchPad Lab is here to help. Book your free discovery call with us to get started with Heroku or Experience Cloud development.