5 Design Strategies for a B2B SaaS Platform
There are hundreds of niche and legacy software that revolutionize many job functions imaginably — be it HRMS, financial tracking, marketing automation, sales, or supply-chain management.
Currently, the customers and decision-makers are leaning towards a SaaS platform rather than an “on-premise” solution. To gain an edge over their competitors, most of the B2b platforms are either available as SaaS or are in the process of moving towards SaaS.
However, the market intelligence report by CBInsights says that 17% of these platforms fail because they do not provide an engaging user experience. So, this is where designing for a B2B SaaS platform plays a significant role.
Over the years, during our conversations with many of our SaaS clients, we understand that they do realize the importance of UX UI design. However, they give higher priority to the asks and demands of the influences/decision-makers/customers. Somewhere along the way, they end up ignoring the end-users’ needs, resulting in rather poor user experience.
Though the impact of this does not reflect on the product in the initial years, over time, the same customers drop the usage. And, the CBInsights reports indicate the same — 50% of these platforms fail by their fifth year.
Reasons for Poor UX on SaaS Platforms
1. Market Centric Approach
In general, the stakeholders, company owners, and product managers own the success of the product. They define the product vision and business strategy, build the road map, and scope of the product. Depending on their role, they do market research, competitor analysis, prioritize the features, work with the development and sales teams, define pricing, and help the marketing teams position the product well in the market.
During this process, a lot more importance is given to market research, and user research is hardly done. Knowingly or unknowingly, they start giving more importance to selling the SaaS product than the user experience.
2. Market centric profiles
These Saas companies are primarily driven by business success and customer satisfaction. So, they focus more on the customer segments and their willingness to pay. In other words, they focus on market-centric profiles, giving importance to the requirements of the customers/decision makers/influencers and the value these people can perceive out of this product. The end-users are hardly considered.
3. Feature Centric Approach
Most of these Saas platforms want to cater to multiple industries and reach multiple market segments. A few SaaS platforms have small, midsize, and large companies as their customers. To satisfy the needs of these customers, they focus on cramming as many features as possible into the platform rather than customizing it for each market/industry/user type.
4. Product Revamp Resistance
Once the B2B SaaS platforms establish a customer/user base, they start getting feedback from the end-users. Then it does become a costly affair to reexamine and revamp the B2B SaaS platform design. Also, to revamp these feature-heavy platforms, we might need some solid amount of time and resources dedicated.
5. Client Resistance
In some cases, some of the clients of the platform might be resistant to any change. They may fear that new patterns of workflows will hamper their organizational productivity. Moreover, they might need some training and motivation to break the barriers and get acquainted with the revamped platform.
Designing better for a B2B SaaS Platform
Having worked on many B2B and B2B2C Saas platforms over the years, we have realized that there should be a convergence — a meeting or agreeable point between the company’s strategy, goals, the customers’ expectations, and the end-users’ requirements.
To achieve this, we should primarily focus on:
1. End Users as Stakeholders
Along with market-centric profiles, the visionaries and the product managers should focus on the end-users as well. End-users should also be included as key stakeholders. In the end, their feedback does impact the success of these Saas platforms in the long run.
This is exactly what we did when we worked on the platform. Wurkr is a virtual platform replicating the physical work environment, connecting the teams distributed across geographies, and helping them collaborate and work together like in a real office. While the customers are small to mid-sized companies, the actual users are employees of that company.
It was very important for us to understand the business needs of the company as well as the pain points of the employees before designing this application. Along with solving the needs of these employees, we also focussed on increasing their engagement with this platform by personalizing the application to make it more involving and fun.
2. User research be part of the Market Research
While the market research is generally directed around selling the product, user research primarily focuses on understanding the needs of the users and their interactions with an application. Numerous qualitative and quantitative research methods help product managers identify the need for the product, the challenges that this product can solve, and additional features that will make it viable. On the other hand, user research will aid in understanding end-user needs, their journeys and workflows, and design a B2B SaaS platform with great UX UI designs.
While designing for , We prioritized the needs and features, we outlined the user journeys, flows. Based on the prioritization of the features and flows, we came up with wireframes and later UI designs. Once done, we did usability testing with some users and collected feedback understood their concerns, and incorporated them into our final designs.
3. Tie features to end-user personas
To develop a user-centered design, we have to understand the behaviors of different personas and their requirements and pain points. Sometimes, a feature might be mandatory for a particular persona and it might be nice to have for another one.
Hence, we need to understand the personas, their possible behaviors on the application, and tie features to them accordingly. It is impossible to take feedback from every prospective user. And, that’s where having a persona helps. Every feature the B2B SaaS product is offering should not only be beneficial to this user persona but at the same time, we should not overload a user with too much information or unwanted features.
The above is an example of the user personas we created for one of the clients. We tried to emulate some of the actual user bases and aligned our designs with each of them. As we said earlier, personas can help figure out what the features users are looking for and how we can make it easy for them to access everything.
4. Mapping features into user journeys
The truth is every feature of the SaaS platform is not beneficial to all the users. Moreover, some platforms may require defining access levels for better functionality. So, it is paramount that the personalization of the platform is based on contextual actions.
While working on the UX UI design for one of the clients ( a huge player in the HRMS industry), we developed a role-based dashboard where each user viewed the features and metrics that catered to their job role.
5. Designers should turn Strategists
As per Branding Strategy Insider,
Well designed products + a well design brand = a high margin business
While designing for a B2B SaaS platform, strategy plays a pivotal role in every step of the way. Whatever the design process may be, it should reflect upon the user research, personas, user journeys, designs. It should also align them with the business objectives. Designers should constantly test their designs and weigh all the inputs and feedback from the usability testing and update their designs while keeping the business goals in mind.
Furthermore, they should also take a lean design approach to take the designs to users in minimal turnaround time, while keeping the long term business strategy and plan in mind.
Take a look at the pSolv Metrics Center user portal, designed by following a lean-approach.
The next step to be B2B SaaS leader
We all have our constraints — be it time, money, skilled people, or technical resources. However, we have seen that giving UX UI Design its importance in the journey of the B2B SaaS platform definitely pays off. This way, not only is the end-user happy since day one, but the customers also get what they are looking for; a strategically designed platform to suit their needs.
Moreover, for a new B2B SaaS platform, a good design acts as the talented salesperson that drives customers. Additionally, it helps the SaaS platform stand out from the rest without compromising the usability of the platform.
I hope these strategies help in designing for the B2B SaaS platform. However, if you are looking for experts, you can always reach out to us.
Originally published at https://www.divami.com on September 22, 2020.