88% of SaaS users will churn and never return after a bad user experience. On the other hand, a well-designed UX can boost conversion rates by up to 400%. These figures prove that user experience significantly influences a SaaS product’s success or failure. What is SaaS UX design, and why is it so important? Keep reading to get answers to these questions, understand SaaS UX, and discover the best tips for improving UX design.
What is UX design in SaaS?
SaaS (Software as a Service) user experience (UX) design involves creating digital products that users find attractive, easy to use, efficient, and enjoyable. It delivers SaaS products with user interfaces and interactions that meet end-user needs and expectations. These users will have an easier time onboarding and navigating such products to experience value and solve their problems.
The UX design process involves multiple steps, starting with user research, followed by usability testing, information architecture, visual design, and iteration. These steps are crucial for ensuring that the finished SaaS product offers a smooth, enjoyable, and intuitive user journey.
SaaS products with a well-executed and optimized UX design are typically more successful because they have increased user adoption, retention, and satisfaction. An optimized UX design accomplishes these results by eliminating usability or aesthetic issues that may render a SaaS product unengaging or frustrating to use. For example, users who experience slow loading times or trouble finding or using features are more likely to churn.
Users who churn due to a poor user experience will seek alternative solutions with better UX. Such an outcome will lead to revenue losses and a damaged reputation. In fact, SaaS users will tell 9 to 15 people about their bad experiences with a product. Avoid such outcomes by investing in effective UX design to boost your SaaS product’s value, success, and competitiveness.
Why is UX design so important for SaaS products?
Great UX is critical. Here's why:
Quality UI/UX Principles Secures Customer Loyalty
Roughly 90% of customers claim they discontinue services consequent of bad experiences. Poor usability discourages the adoption of software designed with functional features. Apart from adversely impacting downstream revenue, inferior designs minimize subscription accrual.
Luck Lockwood's usage-centered design emphasizes several principles when creating user interfaces. First, each element should have been designed purposefully. These should adhere to consistent models apparent from the user's perspective. Next, the simplicity principle stipulates the design should communicate tasks with clarity. Common tasks must be understood without much effort, and shortcuts are helpful additions. The feedback principle also clarifies how interactions should be handled, delivering regular responses. Users should be informed of state changes or new conditions as they emerge.
An additional principle to monitor is visibility. Frequent actions should be seen at a glance, not hiding from plain sight. Extraneous and redundant information is irrelevant, so hide it during testing. Finally, the tolerance principle specifies how flexible it should be, allowing consequent-free mistakes. For example, customers should be able to erase mistaken clicks by pressing an undo button. Likewise, a redo function can ease expectations and enhance functionality.
Usability Heuristics for UI Designs
Jakob Nielsen published 10 general principles that guide developer decision-making. Generally, a design's language should match the one used by customers in the real world. These affirm interactions and communicate information with little interruption. Assistance should not be needed whenever interacting with the program's interface. Terms, concepts, icons, and images must rely on familiar conventions and distinctions. If they are unfamiliar with the individual using it, misunderstandings are likely.
Consistency is also highlighted in Nielsen's work, owing to its universal implications. Words should convey similar meanings across multiple situations. In general, designers should adopt industry standards and platform conventions popular within it. Inconsistent word usage increases the users' cognitive load, forcing them to learn things. Familiarity with the industry's conventional naming schematics elevates customer retention, securing longer-term buyers.
Clear error messages are helpful, but good design prevents them in the first place. Eliminate error-prone conditions or present a confirmation option when users select them. Unconscious error detection is unreliable but can be corrected by addressing inattention. Adding constraints to the designs' interface can reduce their frequency, alleviating strains. However, prevention is better, so remove memory burdens when possible. Freeing up user attention allows more engagement, enhancing their experience.
Reducing Short-Term Memory Load
Humans possess strict limitations on their short-term memory, which imposes design challenges. Limited information processing capacity should be held at the forefront of the mind. Otherwise, complicated programs will be developed, which intimidate users. A typical person will only remember seven items at once, so do not present more than that. Requiring extensive memorization will dissuade use, cutting into the program's profitability.
Action sequences should be organized into coherent strings and groups. Once a user completes them, informative feedback should be given, clarifying what happened. Feedback can evoke a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in the user, relieving them. An additional benefit is the added signal to drop contingency plans from the mind.
Lengthy forms should fit on a single display, and phone numbers should only be entered once. Website locations should stay visible during the entirety of a visit. Experienced users prefer environments where they feel as if they are in control. Tedious data-entry sequences are dull and detract from enjoyability. If it is difficult to obtain necessary info, users will be unlikely to return. Moreover, an inability to produce desired results will rapidly diminish the perceived value. Capable devisers include these considerations from the beginning of their design phase. SaaS pricing should be considered after the interface's design is finalized.
Easy-to-Navigate Spaces Are Preferable
Navigation should be clear, self-evident, and easy to understand for clients. Users enjoy exploring interfaces more when they understand them clearly. If a product is too intricate, clients will be afraid to click buttons, so they will not touch them. Ideal designs place people in their comfort zone, providing context to decisions.
Visual cues are a superb tool to these ends, notifying users of their location. If a user is navigating through reference points, they will not be lost as fast. Page titles, highlights, and associated aids curate the experience. If a user wonders how they arrived on a page, it is a symbol of bad design.
Additionally, users should feel like they are in a predictable world when operating. Cues can help them predict the occurrence of an action and its consequences. Each button and option should be defined so they never wonder what it does when using it.
7 tips to improve the UX design of your SaaS product
As we’ve shown, improving the UX design of your SaaS software is crucial for attracting and retaining users. Here are our best tips for optimizing your SaaS UX:
1. User-centered design
You don’t build a SaaS product for your benefit. Instead, build it for the benefit of your end users. After all, they are the ones who’ll use it to solve problems. As such, before building a SaaS product, you must understand your target users’ needs, goals, pain points, and preferences. Understanding these elements will equip you to build a SaaS product capable of satisfying and delivering value to your end users.
The best way to understand target users is through user research with surveys, user interviews, usability studies, and feedback. Your research will provide insights into what your users want and prefer, and you can leverage the insight to make your product more user-centric.
However, user research shouldn’t stop after product development because customers continuously evolve. Install in-app feedback forms and chat support to continue collecting user suggestions and concerns from your SaaS app after its launch. It will provide insights into evolving user needs so you can keep optimizing your product to stay user-centric and serve customers better.
2. Simplify onboarding
Users can’t start experiencing value until after they’ve onboarded your product. So, keep your SaaS product onboarding process as simple and fast as possible. Users will likely abandon the process if your onboarding is tedious or long, leading to customer and revenue churn.
While onboarding should be intuitive, you can optimize the process by providing clear, step-by-step onboarding guidance. The guide will help eliminate confusion or barriers that may delay onboarding. Also, minimize time to value by providing interactive tutorials or other forms of guidance that introduce users to key features gradually. Introducing new users to your key features will enlighten them on how to start using your product to experience value.
3. Intuitive navigation
Ideally, users should understand and figure out how to use your SaaS app by just looking at it. Intuitive UX designs accomplish this by clearly labeling icons and links, decluttering the interface, and having a logical and clear menu structure with consistent navigation patterns. You should also have logically organized content with primary actions prominently displayed and easily accessible. Such a setup ensures that users can find their way around your app to achieve their goals without hassle.
4. Responsive and attractive UI design
A higher percentage of web traffic comes from mobile devices, indicating that a significant number of users access SaaS products from mobile devices. Optimize your SaaS product to satisfy these users by ensuring it has a responsive design. SaaS products with responsive designs can work and display properly on devices of all screen sizes. If your SaaS product’s interface isn’t responsive, you risk losing a large percentage of your users to competitors that offer mobile experiences.
Also, it’s not enough for a SaaS product to be effective, user-friendly, and responsive. It should also have an attractive UI design. A clean and visually appealing user interface with consistent color schemes, typography, and spacing will make your application look more polished. Aesthetically pleasing SaaS products inspire confidence in users and boost your brand’s image. You can even take aesthetics and UX a step further by offering users the option to personalize their experiences by changing themes or settings preferences.
5. Clear communication
Use concise and user-friendly language whenever you communicate with users within your SaaS application. For example, error messages, notifications, FAQs, guides, and other content should feature direct and easy-to-understand language. Speaking in clear terms prevents miscommunication that may cause misunderstandings. It also ensures that users know the next steps to resolve issues and return to experiencing value with your product.
6. Regular updates
Continuously collect user feedback and perform regular usability tests to identify areas for improvement. You can also use analytics tools to monitor user behavior, feature adoption, and drop-off points. Insights from the analysis will help you make data-driven UX improvements.
Updating your product with new features and design refinements will ensure your product stays relevant and in line with user preferences. Your updates should also ensure optimized loading times and minimized latency to keep users engaged. Why? Present-day users expect fast and feature-rich SaaS applications.
7. Support and security
If users run into issues while using your SaaS software, they should be able to get help quickly. Provide responsive customer support that users can reach with a single click and via their preferred channels, such as email, phone, or live chat.
Also, SaaS products run on data, and the last thing you want is user data ending up in the wrong hands. Avoid such outcomes and assure users of their safety with stringent security measures that ensure data security.
5 examples of great SaaS UX
An optimized user experience can benefit your product in several ways. Here are examples of SaaS products that have benefited from having great UX.
Our client Swell is a feature-rich, small-business customer experience platform (CX). Even though it’s packed with features, Swell is easy to navigate, ensuring you can easily find the tools you want to achieve your goals.
The user-friendly and clean dashboard UI also simplifies tracking ongoing activities so you don’t miss any relevant details. No distracting clutter thanks to the effective use of whitespace and colors. Lastly, Swell is fast and users can access it from any device, including mobile phones.
Asana is a task management software with impressive functionality. The optimized UX delivers a clear and intuitive interface that users can easily navigate to access the information or tools they need.
The software’s search tool further improves user experience by allowing you to find anything you want by entering the relevant search terms. For example, you can find specific tasks, projects, or team members by entering their names and hitting Enter. Lastly, you can use the software as a mobile app or access it as a web application.
JotForm keeps its user interface as simple as possible without compromising on functionality. The user-friendliness minimizes its learning curve to ensure you can quickly onboard the application and experience value.
Users can choose from various templates to build forms and personalize selected forms to their heart’s content. Everything you need to personalize forms is visible on the screen, and you can understand the effects of each visible tool thanks to accurate labeling.
HubSpot is one of the most popular SaaS platforms, and rightfully so. The application offers various features for marketing, sales, customer, and content management. Even though HubSpot has a wide variety of uses, you can easily navigate the platform to achieve your unique goal.
The hassle-free navigation is thanks to HubSpot’s information architecture that efficiently organizes its content and tabs. The intuitive and easy-to-understand UX design also facilitates performing tasks without getting overwhelmed or confused.
Dropbox has over 700 million users, and for good reason. When it comes to cloud storage and file sharing, it doesn’t get any easier than Dropbox. First-timers can sign up and start using the platform within seconds. Also, advanced security measures are in place to automatically protect your data. Lastly, well-labeled tabs and hassle-free navigation simplify figuring out how to use the platform to complete tasks.
As a final rule, informative feedback should acknowledge each interaction. These meaningful and clear reactions will elucidate the system's intentions. Thus, users will be able to achieve and accomplish intended results without friction. Frictionless experiences leave better impressions than ones that trigger frustration.