How Smart Design can Simplify Your SaaS Product

Big tech companies like Google, Dropbox and Slack offer products that are familiar, straightforward and easy to understand. But, not all SaaS companies are that fortunate. Instead, SaaS products and services often include multiple layers and complicated steps. While these complex elements can facilitate the customer’s user experience, it can be difficult to explain to them the functionality and processes, especially if they are brand new to your product. Fortunately, there are ways to simplify complicated products for prospective customers using the right visuals, language and layouts…and a creative partner, of course!

Smart design focuses on having conversations and taking complicated systems, deconstructing their elements, and presenting them in a simplified manner that makes it easy for anyone to understand. Here’s how to get started with smart design.

Work backwards

Start by working with your sales team and in-house product experts. Although it may seem daunting, involving these people upfront to help break down processes to their simplest and most important features will significantly help move the process along. They can help you to identify the components that make your SaaS product stand out from the crowd and differentiate you from competitors. Your sales team and product experts can also address parts of the process that potential and current customers find confusing or regularly ask questions about.

Next, talk to your technical team…after all, these are the experts creating the software! Work together to roughly map out the process you want to illustrate in as few steps as possible. Whether this means roughly sketching out the flow of information, creating a simple graphic in powerpoint or just writing an outline describing the process behind the software, this will help as you move into the design phase with your creative partner.

Bring in the creative team

Now comes the fun part! You’ve done your homework, and now it’s time to bring your product to life with the help of a design partner! If you are working with an in-house design team, they may already be familiar with some information you’ll be bringing to the table. If you are partnering with an agency, providing background information and loose mockups up front will be the difference between needing several revisions and finishing the project on time and within budget. Also, consider working with an agency who specializes in your industry—this will give you a leg-up in creating smart, intuitive design that your customers and prospects can relate to and understand.

Stay organized

There are a few important factors to consider before the design process begins are:

  1. Where will the designs be published? Online, on a mailer or on a billboard?
  2. Who is the end user? Customers, Sales Reps, someone else?
  3. Where and how will they be published? Was the agency contracted to publish content or will it be done by your internal team?

You’ll also want to consider questions like, will assets be going on a responsive website with flexible dimensions, or will these be printed sales materials with defined printing specifications? Determining specs and formats will have a big impact on how your designer approaches the planning and creation of your SaaS process graphics.

For example, we recently worked with a client who requested specifically-sized images for their website. Keeping the dimensions in mind, we were able to translate their process using sketches and training videos into branded infographics. Knowing her expectations upfront saved the client from needing multiple rounds of revisions.

Also, consider what type of graphic might best suit the process ahead of time. If the process is a linear flow, a chart-like approach may work. But, the narrative for different processes might be better suited with design approaches like cluster graphics or even an infographic.

At the end of the day, the graphic should clearly and concisely tell the story of how your software solves your customer’s problem, and still maintain the feel of your brand.

Remember the “Why”

Studies show that images tend to stick in your long-term memory longer than words. So, you’ve brought in a creative partner for good reason! Designers have a creative eye and years of experience in simplifying complex processes through smart design using methods and mediums to best simplify information. Prospective customers will see your visuals and remember them far longer than a paragraph describing your product.

Interested in seeing a real life example of how we implemented this for a client? Check out these case studies.