When creating a SaaS application (software as a service), you probably think more about functionality and features, the target market, and the absence of bugs in the final product. Although user experience (UX) is now recognized as necessary – and sometimes directly determines success or failure – its development is still often overlooked.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is one of the models for selling and delivering applications to users. According to this model, the service provider develops software, deploys it on its computing power, maintains it, and provides clients access to the application as a ready-made Internet service. The customer of the software can be either an organization or an individual.
If you want to learn more about SaaS Design, we recommend reading the article SaaS UI/UX Design Best Practices.
Newcomers who want to enter the service constantly encounter at least the following:
- Fill in 10,500 fields.
- Go through the mandatory training (or any tips for beginners).
- Fill out your profile completely.
People who come to an app want to immediately benefit from using it, and when you ask them for more than you give in return, you end up in what Andrew Chen called the Product Dying Cycle. It looks something like this: on the first day, you will have (let’s say) 1000 visits, 200 of them will register, 160 will move on, and every day this value will be halved.
- Reduce the required fields on the registration form (at Process Street, we don’t ask for anything other than an email in the first step).
- Learn to use the product as you work, not through mandatory step-by-step instructions.
- Present information gradually; do not bombard people with a dozen tips in a row.
An application that perfectly implements all this is Slack. Here, all the steps are pleasant and, let’s say, fun (registration, filling out a profile, logging in, and learning).
Considerable time is devoted to careful thought and design of such moments. For example, have you ever considered making entering a password from a mobile device easier? And in Slack, you can get a “magic link” to your email instead.
If your service has an everyday use case or set of actions, make it a separate shortcut or button without making people go through labyrinths for routine actions that they would be happy to perform in one or two clicks.
Of course, it’s not always obvious how exactly your app is being used. Especially if it is a tool for very different tasks, this makes well-organized support very important, and incoming feature requests should be regularly added to developer to-do lists.
Match the reality of your application with user expectations
Occasionally, we all get enticed by great texts on service landing pages and their beautiful design. Here, we begin to imagine how convenient and pleasant it is for us to use it and quickly leave the application if this is very different from reality.
Simply put, we expect a chair to look and function like a chair. If it doesn’t, it’s a terrible design and creates unnecessary shock for us.
Everything from social media interactions to branding to screenshots gives us an idea of what the app will do for us, including affecting the user experience.
Just as we align marketing materials with the application’s UX, we can significantly soften the upcoming learning curve by eliminating unnecessary surprises.
It doesn’t matter what kind of application you have; people have to learn how to use it one way or another. You can simplify this process by using familiar design stimuli. Recognizable icons, menus, and interactions have been proven to make an interface intuitive, just as we understand what to do with a sock or a mug because we are already familiar with those objects.
Because UX is so important and many aspects are sorely missed, well-designed apps gain more attention and recognition. In contrast, awkward and non-obvious ones are naturally pushed aside. We are still in the grey area of UX, even 16 years after the publication of J. Garrett’s textbook “The Elements of Experience.” However, thoughtful design seems to be taking its place, and small but innovative SaaS development is increasingly ousting corporations.