Let’s do a quick teardown of a SaaS system process and see how it was improved to illustrate the importance of UX in SaaS.
MedRev is a SaaS system focused on reputation management in the healthcare industry. Users of the system are office managers, doctors, and administrators of healthcare providers offices, outpatient care, and hospitals. The system is built on Angular.io with a themed Foundation-based CSS framework and a Laravel back-end.
At a certain point, the front-end coder was asked to put together a set of pages and forms for showing a list of locations and adding new locations. The initial pages looked like this:
Initial System Views:
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Initial Locations List Page:
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Initial Editing Location Information
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Initial Edit Location Information Continued
Notes on the initial design
As you can see, the designs:
look fairly easy to use
Utilize the system theme fully
The front-end developer did their job exactly as requested.
However, once the UX designer reviews the system, we take a different approach. The following questions start being asked:
Who is using this process?
What level of information management skills to they have?
Do they understand social media platforms?
At what point in the system are they using this process?
Are they using this process all the time or infrequently?
What is the goal of this process?
After these questions are asked and examined, it becomes clear that the process as it stands is not viable. Take a look at the answers:
Who is using this process? - Healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, PAs, dentists, chiropractors, and other healthcare providers, office managers, hospital administrators, healthcare marketing staff, and most often front-desk staff at healthcare offices.
What level of information management skills to they have? - Most often, very little.
Do they understand social media platforms? - Most of the time, only as users in the system.
At what point in the system are they using this process? - The very beginning of their use of the system. This process is critical to the onboarding of new users and the setup of new customers.
Are they using this process all the time or infrequently? - Infrequently. This system is used at the very beginning, then not much (sometimes never) afterwards.
What is the goal of this process? - To create a new location so that the business can start using the system.
With these answers, it should be clear that a very, very simple process of flowing through this tool, with very clear instructions, is critical to the success of the business. Because this tool is just used once or rarely, the users have no way or reason to know ahead of time how to use the system and it becomes more valuable to have it clearly explained than to have it all grouped together (which could be useful if the users used this process all the time).
After the UX designer reviewed the system, a new design for each location was created as well as an entire process to help users quickly add new locations. The new process explained the critical aspects of each item while linking to help files where needed.
Post UX Designs
Post UX Design: Locations List Page
Post UX Design: Change Location Information
Post UX Design: Set Minimum Survey Score
Post UX Design: Add Location Process (selected pages)
Front-end Coder vs. UX Designer Comparison
The designs shown above were only the first draft of the UX designers work, and final drafts are still in progress at the time of this writing. However, you can see from these designs that there is now a process with step by step instructions. This process figuratively ‘holds the user’s hand’ through the process of creating a new location and editing location information.
The difference from a user’s perspective is that with the UX designers work, they can now understand what they are doing and move through a complex process while seeing only the information they need at any given time. Whereas before, all data was available but not well described which made it somewhat overwhelming and fairly unintuitive. The users described would not have been capable of using the system as it was initially designed.
ProTip: This comparison highlights why it you need a UX designer in almost any SaaS system development process, and also why a single developer working on a SaaS project isn’t a good idea. The UX designer could not have coded this page, the front-end developer could not have efficiently created the logic to run the system, and the back-end developer could not have efficiently created front-end that elegantly transitions from mobile to desktop or created the process flows that the UX designer provided. Additionally, it would have been a time-consuming and complex task for all of these team members to work together on the project and meet deadlines without a project manager.
SaaS UX testing and optimization
Once the initial processes are put in place and users are flowing through the system, the next step for the UX designer will be to review how users are using the system, check to make sure they are doing what the designer expected and help the product manager make changes that will enable users to better use the system. This again shows how a SaaS system is never ‘done’.