Hubspot, Dropbox, Mailchimp, Slack, GSuite, and Salesforce. What is the common trace for all these products? They are SaaS examples: software-as-a-service products that have already become a part of our everyday lives.
The United States remains one of the regions with the biggest number of registered SaaS product companies. In 2021, there were approximately 15,000 SaaS companies. It is estimated that the total number of their customers worldwide was 14 billion.
The SaaS market is highly competitive yet attractive for young companies and startups. As of September 2021, AngelList had 23,903 registered SaaS startups. Despite the high level of competitiveness, good SaaS products are in demand: there are 24,154 SaaS angel investors.
For many companies, developing their own SaaS solution creates new opportunities to grow and attract more clients. Even customers prefer the SaaS model to traditional software. This article analyzes software as a service product and explains how to develop and introduce this solution for your business.
We will exemplify information with our own SaaS company development experience so that you can understand the importance of each process and the necessity of all steps.
What is SaaS? We need to clarify several major moments and define the crucial SaaS features that make this service delivery model special to answer this question.
The concept of the SaaS platform (software as a service) lies in providing services via the Internet. As a rule, SaaS products have a web application, so users can just visit a website and start enjoying all the benefits. It helps to simplify the user’s life, as data transmission and data management are performed via the network. There is no need to install an application to your device; everything you need is to go online and open the service in your browser.
If you’ve worked with Google products, you already get the concept. They exemplify the SaaS business in the best way. GSuite provides users with a huge selection of online services, including mail clients, word processors, and cloud warehouses. Google web apps show how convenient and easy to use SaaS may be.Example of SaaS products.
Site builders are among other popular SaaS examples. They perfectly describe B2C and B2B SaaS solutions: with a site builder, any company can create a landing page even though they may not have experts or software to do that. Moreover, they don’t need to buy licenses for different programs: SaaS has it all, starting from applications and up to frameworks.
Users can reach their goals and objectives faster with a site builder. Moreover, as a SaaS model, the site builder is a cost-effective solution.
All in all, any SaaS platform exists to simplify the life and the experience of the user. One of our clients approached us to create Metricly, an AWS cost-optimization platform to help users save 32% of their AWS bills. The chosen model for the project was SaaS. To ensure the effective performance of the platform, we’ve focused on critical cloud infrastructure monitoring and the development of various services. As a result, Metricly becomes a great example of Saas solutions that users highly appreciate.
The matter is that when working with any SaaS product, the user expects to get a ready-to-use turnkey solution that the provider serves. Everything that is left for the user is to operate data within the product.
As a business model, any SaaS has a list of features common to other products:
apps work remotely. It means that you don’t need to install the software to work with it
several clients can use the app at the same time: they can collaborate simultaneously or use the app separately
the services are provided on a subscription basis (as a rule, monthly or yearly). It is one of the basic features that makes it so different from any other software. Traditional software is bought once in a lifetime. It may cost thousands of dollars, and even though you need it only for a small project that lasts three weeks, you need to pay the full price. Everything is different with SaaS. You can get the product’s full functionality and pay for the time you will use it: a month, two months, or a year. It is one of the major values of SaaS products for the customers. At the same time, this is also valuable for a business. It gives more flexibility with monetization and attracting more clients.
As we understand now, the SaaS definition is rather simple: the service is provided via the network, and users get a full pack of necessary tools to reach their goals and objectives.
Moreover, the simplicity of using SaaS products is also explained by UX/UI. Currently, there’s a high demand for the product with UX that makes any process as easy as possible. For SaaS solutions, design becomes a driving power: if a user has any problems with the interface, they won’t use this product anymore.
Therefore, many SaaS companies provide users with a full pack of materials they may need. This pack may include a guide on using the product, a checklist on key steps, and educational materials.
SaaS products are multiplatform, which means that you can use them from any device with different operating systems. You can successfully use them from iOS or Android, mobile or desktop.
When talking about SaaS meaning, we cannot ignore the information about development and launching the product. How to prepare for the launch of the product? What information is vital? To what points is it necessary to pay attention?
Here’s the list of tips you may use for the pre-launch stage of your SaaS product:
1. Don’t save time and money on research
The level of competitiveness is very high within the SaaS market. Before you start working on the development, it is necessary to conduct comprehensive research to understand your product’s niche, competitors, key advantages and disadvantages, and selling points. Additionally, you need to put this information into the competitive matrix.
Using this information, you can make certain conclusions and hypotheses that will help you create a high-quality product that solves users’ problems and has value for your target audience.
2. Know your audience
One of the pre-launch activities includes researching the target audience and defining the main segments of the users who will use the product. At this step, you will understand what pains and fears your audience has, why customers should use your product, and what value they can find in your product compared to your competitors.
How to start a SaaS business for email services? There are many huge companies like Google with its Gmail and Readdle with Spark, and many others. Before you decide to launch your product on this market, you need to validate the idea, develop functionality that your target audience needs and add features that will attract users. However, features and functionality will depend on the preferences of your target audience only.
3. Work on design
For SaaS, perfect UI is vitally important. The design sphere is developing rapidly, and it is also reflected in the product design. You are to find the best design solutions for your product to make it attractive.
By analyzing any young startup, you will notice how much effort they put into the design. Now it’s your turn to create perfect visuals for your product.
4. Your goals and objectives have the top priority
In the first stages of product development, it is important to define the goals and objectives. During the beta launch and further work on the product, you should stick to them and take decisions keeping in mind the results you want to reach.
5. Create an MPV
If you want to make the process of developing a SaaS product less stressful, start with creating an MVP. An MVP, or minimum viable product, helps ensure that the idea will be successful and the customers will be positive about it.
When we create MVP for SaaS products, we cover all basic and major needs of the users of the main target audience segments. We carefully work on the informational architecture to achieve this, as SaaS products are more complicated than food delivery or e-commerce. It’s important to think over the app’s architecture, the structure of interaction between the interface and the user. We develop user flows, customer journey maps, and outflows that help us structurize and optimize processes and ideas.
Only after we add all functions on the prototype stage, validate the idea, form the functionality, and plan the execution, we proceed with adding extra features that will help stand out amongst the competitors and make the product more valuable for the users.
As a rule, product launch plans consist of several stages that are equally important for the result. Here are all of them:
At this stage, we define the goals and objectives of the product. We conduct UX research, including research of the target audience to define who will use the app and the level of experience within the service of our customers. Additionally, we define the main segments of the target audience and personalize these segments.
We also conduct competitor research to understand their main advantages and disadvantages. We compare them and define hypotheses. This information helps us to create a functionality list for our SaaS product.
When the list is ready, we work on informational architecture: create user-flows, scenarios of using the product, work on use cases of apps. We analyze in what format and in what conditions the product will be used. Additionally, we define how the user will make decisions and what will affect the decision-making process.
We develop a sequence of screens, the system’s answers, and decisions for the users that allow us to systemize and clarify the sequence of steps made with the platform. We define needed functionality and estimate the scope of work for prototyping.
At this stage, the first sketches of the product appear and screens of the apps that allow to estimate and validate ideas. We can make several iterations to understand what version of the interface is the best one and define structure and functionality sets that will ensure a faster and easier process.
When the prototype is ready, it's necessary to test it to understand how easy it is for a user to work the interface and whether the goals and objectives are easily achievable. At this stage, the information we collect helps us create and formulate certain hypotheses that will help at the designing stage.
We recommend paying attention to the visuals of SaaS products as this is one of the most urgent issues on the market. The design must be beautiful yet effective. User experience must be perfect: any user, even the one who had never worked with the services you provide previously, should easily use the software.
Additional testing of the design helps to validate all ideas and functionality. We still have a chance to easily fix functionally at this stage, as the development process has not started yet. Also, it is possible to develop additional features and functionality that will be implemented in the SaaS product later on at this stage.
Now, a new platform is created. The developers work on all technical assignments; the QA team helps to find and fix all problems. It is crucial to stick to design guidelines during the development stage to create a product that corresponds to the initial idea.
We always recommend starting with a beta launch to make sure that the product works perfectly. If the customers are not satisfied with the functions of the service, you can hold the process of launching and fix any appearing issues. However, if all steps are done correctly, the beta launch won’t demonstrate any problems with the SaaS platform.
Sage Express is an AI-driven data discovery tool that allows users to automate the search of data. It is a big data project. That is, it presupposes the usage of huge masses of raw data and transforming them into insights in the forms of interactive tables and graphics.
Our main challenge was creating the Brand Identity, making the Web Application clean, easy to use, and fun to interact with.
For Sage Express, we provided product strategy, UX/UI design, and brand identity
For this project, we conducted the following stages:
conducting the researches (including market research, analysis of the competitors, and target audience)
idea generation to create the most effective visual representation for the product
creating information architecture
development of necessary functionality
wireframing and prototyping( there were several prototyping stages: basic sketches, at the next stage we added details, changed structure, the display of graphics and elements, tested and conducted usability testings to prove that the chosen decision is the best. In the final version, we worked on the visual concepts to determine the color palette, the structure of the interface, format for data displaying)
After the product’s successful launch, the company was invited to participate in the CES 2020 event. We created promo materials for their successful participation.
Creating a SaaS platform for your business is an investment that can turn into huge growth on the international market. However, the SaaS platform will be effective only when professionals create it.
Arounda can become your partner in the development of SaaS products. We will help you with design and implement your idea to life. We will work closely to achieve the best results. Our team of professionals will become your assistants on the way to success.
Book a call with us, we’re here to discuss your own SaaS product!
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