In this brief case study, I use some quick-and-dirty usability testing to evaluate the experience of using Pardot from within a Salesforce instance.

Image courtesy of Salesforce

The Problem

In an attempt to unite product experiences, Salesforce has made Pardot accessible through the standard Sales Cloud login. While this certainly adds a level of convenience, it makes for a poor user experience. The interface for Pardot is subsequently nested within an iFrame, which is wrapped in the regular Lightning interface. On larger displays (see Fig. 1), the padding around the iFrame of the app is extremely large (especially at the bottom). Certain standard interactions, such as scrolling, can cause strange and occasionally unexpected behavior, due to the nested vertical scroll box.

Fig. 1: Pardot app nested in lightning interface on large monitor

Who does this impact?

The issues described above only impacts users accessing the Pardot interface from within Lightning. By visiting, Pardot can be used in a standard, non-nested app in its own window. Likely, customers who use both Sales Cloud and Pardot (a significant percentage of all users) would end up using Pardot from the Lightning interface. This also gives them quick access to other activities inside of Salesforce related to their Pardot campaigns.

Evaluation Method

For this evaluation, I’ll find a test subject and perform a “Thinking Out Loud” exercise. I’ll ask my participant to accomplish a few tasks and to speak what they are thinking as they attempt each one. I will occasionally ask questions to clarify if necessary. I’ll record the audio from the session for later reference.


The duplicated navigation is extremely confusing for users (especially new ones). I started the exercise by giving my participant (who was familiar with Marketing Cloud, but not Pardot) some context to what Pardot is and how it fit into the Lightning interface before her.


Using the Nielsen Norman principles for interaction design, the key challenges can be described under the following categories:

Consistency and standards

The biggest issue with the split navigation is that there is no consistency between the two menu types. For some users, this would expand to other Salesforce product they use. For those familiar with Salesforce, they’d likely rely heavily on the Lightning navigation to complete everyday tasks. A lack of consistency here is causing a lot of confusion in terms of where to find the desired result. And from a usability perspective, it requires users to bounce between two parts of the screen, making muscle memory more difficult to develop.

Match between system and the real world

The affordance of tabs arguably comes from a variety of places in the real world (folder tabs, for instance). But more significantly, today’s users are accustomed not only to real world affordances, but also to digital ones they encounter on a daily basis. And tabs are a big part of that. It’s also important for users to be able to contextually place “where” they are metaphorically in the digital app. This allows them to orient themselves more quickly and more naturally find “where” they want to go next. This unnatural nesting of two paradigms for how panes and objects interact with one another are a major hinderance to that goal.

Visibility of system status

The horizontal (Lightning) nav does an incrementally better job at indicating to a user “where” they are in the app at any given time. It does so by providing better visibility into what action has just taken place (such as moving to a different area of the app). Doubling the navigation reduces the ability to see in one place where a user is and what has recently happened.


The most successful solution to the issues described would involve the conversion of Pardot to a native Lightning app. This would mean updating Pardot to use the native lightning system such that it can be opened as a standard Lightning app. All the areas in Pardot that can be navigated to from the lefthand drawer would instead be Lightning tabs or submenus. Then, users logging into Pardot through Salesforce proper would have an incredibly fluid experience with the rest of their instance. The doubling of menus and top chrome (settings, user, and search appear twice), in addition to the extreme amount of unnecessary padding, would be eliminated.

Image courtesy of Salesforce

Update (November 2018)

At Dreamforce 2018, Salesforce announced Lightning for Pardot, directly addressing the usability concerns listed above. In fact, they integrated Pardot into true lightning tabs, precisely as recommended. A follow-up study is required to evaluate this new user experience and determine how well it addresses the aforementioned pain points.


Product Designer @ Salesforce