Product Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

August 31, 2021
Written by:  
Gabor Vajda

Building a SaaS product is an expensive, time-consuming task. It's essential, therefore, that you follow the best practices during the research and production stages to avoid wasting money and time.

The SaaS market continues to surge in popularity. While the market size was valued at $31.4 billion in 2015, it's set to explode to an estimated $171.9 billion in 2022. There has never been a higher demand for SaaS products - but there's also more competition than ever. In today's booming market, the importance of standing out with an expertly designed product cannot be understated.

If you’re in the process of planning or designing a SaaS product, and it's an area you've never ventured into before, there are several things to be aware of before you get started. Namely, you need to know the common product design mistakes and what you can do to avoid them. 

This article will look at the 7 mistakes that many businesses make when designing SaaS products. At the end of the list, we'll discuss how to avoid these mistakes altogether. 

7 Product Design Mistakes

Mistake 1: You Misinterpret Previous Users' Experiences

When designing any SaaS product, it's essential that you have an accurate understanding of your target users' previous experiences. The majority of your customers will favor simplicity and familiarity and would rather not put time and effort into learning something new. If you create a SaaS product that requires a whole new way of thinking or behaving, you risk putting your customers off. 

Therefore, doing a full UX overhaul or switching systems is, therefore, a bad idea - even if your experience is largely beneficial to users.

This doesn't mean that you should avoid inventing new concepts, but it's better to enhance slowly than replace a current experience in its entirety. For any emerging product, carefully consider how people currently lead their daily lives and how you can mimic this behavior with your product experience.

To achieve this, you need to carry out extensive user research and have a solid understanding of the current popular SaaS tools ecosystem. If you do want to make a big change, consider creating a plan of phased implementation, which shouldn't overwhelm your users.

Mistake 2: You Over-Simplify

On the other end of the scale, there is such a thing as over-simplifying your product and assuming that your users aren’t clever enough to be trusted with slightly more complex processes.

You may try too hard to make your app so easy that a child could use it. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple, you shouldn’t forget that your users are intelligent people who want to focus their attention on something worthwhile.

It's a difficult balancing act: you don't want to over-simplify, but you also don't want to treat anything as being obvious if it isn't. Your users are seeing your product for the first time, and it needs to make sense to them on a basic level.

To get the balance right, work hard on your hypothesis and consider fallbacks. Make sure to be consistent with your terminology and carry out testing to assess user experience.

Mistake 3: You Overwhelm Users With Onboarding

User onboarding is crucial - it converts novice users into product experts. However, it's common for mistakes to be made in the onboarding process, as many SaaS businesses focus too much on what they want to share rather than what customers expect.

Onboarding mistakes include providing too much text upfront, using distracting pop-ups and vast how-tos, over-explaining, and unnecessarily using screenshots.

It's best to make onboarding as straightforward as possible. Give users access to a separate knowledge base rather than oversharing within the product itself.

Mistake 4: You Try To Appeal To Everyone

It can be tempting to create a one-size-fits-all product that suits everyone, assuming that it'll bring extensive value to the broadest audience possible. The problem is that this is near-impossible to achieve.

If you try to produce a SaaS product that appeals to everyone, you'll end up being unable to prioritize features and achieve the right focus.

Trying to implement a tool for every user will result in adding too many tools. This will clog up your product and increase its overall complexity, which actually serves to make it harder to understand. Having too many additional possibilities can also blur what value you intend to offer.

You will achieve much more exciting results if you focus your SaaS solution on a single business need or several needs within the same niche. If you do want to offer multiple solutions, build an ecosystem and clearly state the purpose of each solution.

Mistake 5: You Don't Offer A Free Trial

How often do you commit to purchasing a product that you haven't had the chance to try out yourself? Probably very rarely, if at all.

The same goes for your product's customers. You can make it sound incredible in writing, but users won't know the unique ways in which they can benefit from your product unless they test it themselves.

Free trials are essential for the overwhelming majority of SaaS businesses. Unless you have a specific reason for not offering a free trial, you should definitely give your users the option to try before they buy.

Failing to offer a free trial may result in potential losses. People might be able to get an idea of how your product works from demo videos and screenshots, but it's not the same as actually using the product itself. Free trials give users a first-hand experience of using the product, which (if your product is designed well) should motivate them to invest in the paid version once the trial is up.

Mistake 6: You Don't Feature Enough Visual Elements

A SaaS product needs to be just as visually appealing as it is informational. Focusing too heavily on words is one of the biggest design mistakes that SaaS app developers can make.

Even when you're teaching potential users about your product, you should make sure to use plenty of visuals, like videos and screenshots. These will help the customer to understand the processes involved in using your product. Be sure to put just as much effort into showcasing as you do into the product itself. 

The SaaS marketplace is extremely competitive, so you want to give customers a full understanding of your offering and why they should choose your product over someone else's.

Mistake 7: You Don't Optimize Loading Time

While videos, animations, and high-resolution graphics and images are essential to a successful SaaS product, these features can all affect your product's loading time.

Failing to optimize large assets in your product will result in slow loading, sluggish wait times, and an overall poor user experience. Slow loading times can even deter customers from using your app altogether, and they'll be annoyed that they invested in a solution that doesn't feel practical or convenient.

You can use tools to speed up your product after you've created it - but it makes much more sense to focus on improving and maximizing speed during the design process. It's relatively simple to optimize images and animations to prevent a dramatic slowing down of your product.

How to Avoid Product Design Mistakes

This article features some of the most common mistakes SaaS businesses make when developing a product, but the list certainly isn't exhaustive. There is a plethora of errors that you might make if you simply don't have the right people on your team.

To avoid these common pitfalls, it’s highly advisable to use a complete UX team throughout the design process. Doing this will ensure that every avenue is covered and that you have an expert to support you in each aspect of research and design involved in producing a SAAS product.  

A complete product design team can ensure that your product is successful, and not just at first glance. They can delve deeper into all areas of production to ensure that your product is both easier to use and understand. 

Building a good product is something that you’ll struggle to do alone. Not only do you need a developer, but you will also hugely benefit from the expertise offered by visual and UX designers and UX researchers.

You'll likely need a minimum of two professional UX designers. One to draw beautiful screen designs for your product, and at least one other to build prototypes and wireframes, define flows and structures, brainstorm, run workshops for your product, and communicate with other members of the team.

You'll also need one or several team members for UX research: testing designs with real users, conducting interviews, validating feature ideas, building personas, evaluating analytics, and much more.

Combined together in a complete UX team, these experts can ensure that the final product is delivered at the highest spec, significantly minimizing the potential for mistakes along the way. 

In Summary

If you're keen to deliver the most impressive, innovative SaaS product to your customers, choose SaasXpert. Our team of specialist UX researcher and designer can work closely with you on your project to achieve your desired outcome within a matter of weeks.

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