The success of your SaaS company is a factor of multiple variables, yet your product is the number one thing that can make or break the future of your business. You can have a flawless marketing campaign and promise amazing benefits to your leads and prospects, but if your trial users encounter a clunky product and unfriendly dashboard, they’ll likely just stop using it and leave.
The same goes for your customer success team. You can have some outstanding professionals dedicated to helping your customers achieve their goals, but if their overall product experience is nasty and unpleasant, people will simply stop paying for the subscription and go to your competition.
So as you can see, although promoting, selling, and showcasing your product are key elements in connecting with the right leads, at the end of the day, it’s your product that will convince people to stay or go.
Main characteristics that make a SaaS product truly great
But what’s the difference between an average SaaS product and a great one? What exactly makes people love a platform or software and use it often? Let’s look at each characteristic of a great SaaS product:
1. Clean and minimal
Nobody loves a cluttered product with dozens of options, buttons, and colors. According to some studies, you have 0.05 seconds to make an impression with your product, but you won’t win anyone over with a weird-looking platform that lacks clarity and focus. To make people love your SaaS product, you’ll want to keep it simple and clutter-free.
2. An intuitive interface
The biggest mistake you can make is to reinvent the wheel and create a weird interface just for the sake of doing something new. There’s a reason why the menu is at the users’ left and the working space is centered. You can’t change these elements, thinking that you’ll “innovate.” People are used to specific platform designs. Obviously, you can and should vary and adapt the software according to your value and vision, but keep it familiar and intuitive.
3. Clear copy
Imagine someone searching for “Settings” and not finding them because you decided to change this term and use the word “Surroundings.” This is something we don’t talk about a lot, but the copy is as important for your product as is its design.
Having that in mind, to make people love your SaaS product, keep the copy simple and clear so that your users will know exactly what to do.
4. Easy to discover and use
Nobody wants to spend days reading articles you’ve stored in the learning center or watch videos on how to use your product. People want to access your product, discover it, and figure it out by themselves by checking a few product tips popping up here and there. So one of the key elements that make your SaaS product great is having a friendly learning curve and making it easy to use.
5. Immediate value
People need your product because they want to overcome a very specific challenge, so if they don’t see any clear benefits, they’ll probably just stop using it. To get people to love your product, gear its entire design toward the solutions you’re providing, making it easy for your new users to accomplish tasks and experience the value you’re offering.
6. Hassle-free plan upgrade or downgrade
Let’s say that you’re giving your users the option to try out a free trial. To make the entire experience as friendly as possible, make it easy to upgrade.
Moreover, if someone upgraded and wants to downgrade, don’t hide this option. The sad thing is that some companies hide the plan downgrade option, which reduces their chances of being liked. People may view the company as manipulative and not trustworthy. The last thing you want as a user is to downgrade, yet not find this option. This may backfire and cause your user to cease their subscription altogether.
Now that we’ve discussed the main SaaS product criteria that get people to stay and pay for it, let’s talk about the steps you’ll want to take to ensure a user-friendly and neat-looking product people will love to discover and use.
Steps to creating a great SaaS product
Your first product iteration won’t be perfect, but if you follow certain steps and take some crucial practices into consideration, people will love it. So get out your notebook to take some notes and let’s dive in.
Step 1. Work with a top product designer
One of the biggest mistakes SaaS founders make when creating a product is not hiring a product designer. Instead, they’ll ask the engineers to draw the wireframes and come up with the prototype. They think they’re saving money this way; however, this tends to backfire. By not collaborating with a product designer to create or improve their product, these SaaS founders are risking putting a clunky platform on the market that nobody will enjoy using.
According to Henry Wu, product design lead at HubSpot, “A Product Designer, at its core, is a problem solver.” He or she is the “eye of the team,” making sure that things not only look pretty, but also solve specific problems.
On the other hand, as product designer Simon McCade specifies, “Design sprints that are considered and not hurried are crucial to the process. The more mistakes you can sort out now, the less ground you’ll have to make up after you’ve launched. First impressions in design, as we know, are everything, so it’s simply not worth the risk to skip the concepts and jump straight to the prototypes.”
In other words, you’ll want to take product design very seriously and make sure you’re putting something good out there. If you don’t know where to begin, start by looking for a great product designer who will help you structure the entire process and come up with powerful solutions for your platform.
Step 2. Continuously simplify your product
There’s one brilliant research article by Peter Ramsey showing how many clicks it takes to create a bank account.
As you can see, Revolut is at the top of the list, with 24 clicks only compared to its competitors. Your product shouldn’t make your users’ life more difficult; on the contrary, you’ll want to map out all the actions your users should take to achieve a certain goal, and then reduce the number of steps by improving the design of your SaaS product. Always keep simplifying your offer and making the entire product experience as hassle-free and quick as possible.
Step 3. Keep the dashboard clutter-free
As we previously discussed, nobody likes a cluttered SaaS product. As Jamie Mustard writes in his book The Iconist: The Art and Science of Standing Out, we’re wired to like and remember simple things. So pay careful attention to the dashboard design.
The question you could start with is, “How do I make people start using my product right away without wondering what they should do?” Then, build the entire dashboard around that one action by eliminating everything that’s irrelevant, meaning buttons, copy, different call to actions. Keep your dashboard clean and simple.
Step 4. Focus on developing one core solution
Look, we know you have a brilliant idea of creating a SaaS suite that will help users to solve different problems. But in most cases, people will be looking for solutions to just one problem, and they’ll go to those brands that offer them one tool. So don’t overcomplicate things.
Instead of building an all-in-one platform, think about solving one specific problem, create the solution, and then continue improving it by offering new relevant features to your users. By focusing your SaaS product on solving just one problem, you’ll be able to build something clutter-free and easy to use.
Plus, marketing the product will be much easier than trying to attract different buyer personas and verticals based on their journey and issues. So focus on one challenge and one solution that will get constantly improved.
Step 5. Analyze user behavior and delete useless features
Last but not least, remember that designing and building your SaaS product is ongoing work. You can’t stop after launching it. On the contrary, you’ll want to continue improving it by gathering users’ feedback and analyzing people’s behavior as they’re using your software.
Pay special attention to the features they’re ignoring. In most cases, these features are probably totally irrelevant and are just taking up precious space. On the other hand, keep improving and tweaking the features your users like the most to make sure you’re providing ongoing value to your customers.
This list could go on forever because there are so many other details that will make your SaaS product better, but if you can start by focusing on these five actions, you’ll be a few steps ahead of your competition. So let’s recap:
- When designing your product, remember to focus on solving only one problem as opposed to creating an entire product suite that answers to different needs your ideal customer may have.
- Also, when building your SaaS product, make sure you’re keeping it as simple as possible in terms of steps your users should take to accomplish a task or achieve a goal.
- Design the entire dashboard using a minimalist approach and ensure it provides maximum value.
- Next, don’t forget that building a SaaS product is an ongoing process, so pay attention to user data and feedback to improve it.
Finally, never start your work without having the advice and assistance of your professional product designer. This will save you plenty of headaches in the long run.
Make better product decisions
Try our user feedback tool for 30-days!