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I need help on how to customize communities. I know how to create Force.com Sites and I understand how to create a simple community just using the existing tabs, branding etc.

But how can I use a community and have the navigation part (the menu or tabs) branded and use existing functionality like Q&A, Cases etc? For example just move the tabs to the right and up? I also want to add my own start page as one tab together with the others. It should have three-columns containing the user's profile, chatter, live agent, cases, topics, articles, groups etc. The same navigation menu should still be displayed though as when I look at the standard Q&A page.

I have just created customized pages for Login and landing page but do I have to create the tabs on my own using Visualforce code? And if I do and press the Chatter link, then I will end up in the default page which is completely uncustomized (a grey header with a search box and some standard tabs). I have been digging the internet and tested quite a lot now with different solutions, manipulating css's and more and I wonder if I have to do it all on my own or if I can use existing functionality in some way but make it look the way the customer wants it. Some of Salesforce's own demos look exactly the way I want it but the user guides don't give me this information.

I.e. what is the best practice?

Appreciate help! Thanks / N

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Much of what you're asking is pretty clearly laid out in Getting Started with Communities.

The only way to do what you're asking is with custom visual force via the Tabs option as illustrated in what I've quoted below. Rather than provide a long list of links for more on this, I recommend you use http://findsf.info/ as your search engine to locate more specific details you might find helpful toward accomplishing your desired goals.

I'd only add that creating what you want is not much different than building a highly customized web site (or SF instance for that matter). That's something which requires many skills, including advanced knowledge of CSS, JS and jQuery.

What SF offers today out of the box compared to their initial release of communities IMO is very extensive. They've truly come a long way. Could they do more? Yes, of course, like any product, communities will continue to evolve and there are many Ideas towards that end that have been submitted in the Salesforce.Success Community.

Tabs vs. Community Builder

Tabs

Selecting the Salesforce Tabs + Visualforce template when creating your community means you will use out-of-the-box Salesforce tabs or Visualforce pages.

Pros

  • Some theming options available out-of-the-box for tabs
  • Support for all sales, service, marketing, and platform features
  • Full Force.com platform capability

Cons

  • Visualforce is the preferred approach for better customization, yet Visualforce requires coding capability
  • Requires some knowledge of the Force.com platform

Community Builder

Selecting one of the preconfigured templates when creating your community means that you will use the WYSIWYG user interface of the Community Builder.

Pros

  • Out-of-box app targeted at self-service communities
  • More CSS styles available
  • Great for a quick rollout of simple self-service community use case

Cons

  • Limited to self-service functionality (cases, Salesforce Knowledge, and Chatter Questions)
  • Doesn’t support other sales, service, or platform use cases
  • Doesn’t have full platform capability

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