The challenges faced by businesses striving to survive in a fast paced world require cutting edge technology. One of the technologies that help businesses to face these challenges and provide better services to their customers is the XaaS business model. XaaS is a wide spread category of business models where clients and users access products, tools, and other services on a subscription model, or as a service. Examples of XaaS in the IT industry include software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (Paas), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
The plethora of options and wide-spread adoption of SaaS products and applications is a testament to its success as a business model. Many, if not all, leading IT brands offer subscriptions to their various tools and platforms. These applications can vary from, word processing, CRM, project management, and many others. The end users of these products do not differ from other users in their needs and expectations. For all intents and purposes, these users need to have the same experience or better as using a regular product. The solutions provided must be efficient, easy to use, safe, and elegant. To meet this objective, it is important to follow a user-centric approach when creating these applications.
UX design in SaaS
SaaS UX design is not as straightforward as designing for a single user, or a single company. SaaS products are designed to be used by millions of users, ranging from individuals to small businesses to enterprises. A SaaS product should not be designed to be more complicated to use than a more traditional counterpart. We need to ensure that end-users are shielded from all the technical processes happening on the backend, and they are able to use a clear, simple interface to interact with the application.
Best practices to improve SaaS UX design
While designing a SaaS application may seem daunting at first, following the normal guidelines of good UX design can help you to break down the task, and work with each element to come up with a perfect solution. Here are some best practices that can help you to get you started.
Focus on easy registration and optimise onboarding
This is the first experience the user will have with your product, and first impressions really do matter. A bad or complicated registration and onboarding process will leave your users frustrated and unwilling to give your application a fair trial. To improve registration, make sure that you don't demand a lot of unnecessary information, you can always ask for more information as and when required. Moving to a new tool, or even a newer version of a familiar tool, can be intimidating for users. Your onboarding process must be simple and friendly. Provide users with the information they need to proceed, and let them know where they can find more information when needed.
As discussed earlier, SaaS products are built for a large and varied audience. With this in mind the design of your application should be able to cater to a wide range of operating systems and devices. Include responsive design and testing on multiple devices to ensure the best possible experience for users. Of course, this doesn't mean that every single application will be available on every single device, but having your application available, potentially in different formats or leaner functionality, can only help increase adoption. Just make sure that you have planned for whether or not it will be available, and if it is, design it to provide the best possible experience.
SaaS applications by nature tend to be larger and more overwhelming than traditional applications. Therefore it is important to provide an efficient search functionality for users to find the information or even the functionality they need. Your design also needs to consider making the search tool available from everywhere and ensure that it doesn't interfere with ongoing tasks etc.
Access to support
Even if you build your application with all the considerations discussed above, your users are still going to run into problems that you didn't think about, or haven't given an obvious enough solution for. This is where support comes into play. Your UX design needs to integrate access to customer support, so that users can raise any concerns they have without having to resort to searching the web for solutions, which invariably starts to increase frustration with the application.
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Creating a great user experience for SaaS products is a challenge that UX designers need to measure up to. While SaaS products have some key differences from traditional products, the fundamentals of creating a good UX remains unchanged. To prepare for this challenge you can study existing SaaS products, find where they are lacking and which ones already provide an exceptional experience to users. Study these findings and learn how to improve your own SaaS UX game.