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Designing The Special Sauce For SaaS

See the key takeaways and download the slides from this presentation

See the key takeaways and download the slides from this presentation

Our Head of Product Anna Harrison joined CTOSchool recently to spill her secrets on successful SaaS products and teams. 


In the talk, Anna covered three factors outside of design and UX that are necessary to create the special sauce for SaaS products to succeed. You can read the key takeaways below, download the presentation slides here  or watch the recording of Anna's presentation here. And make sure you are following Anna on Twitter @shinyUX

Part One: Fear and Conflict 

Creating SaaS products requires input from different teams. It’s generally known that diverse teams, for example those that contain designers, developers, content strategists, marketers, etc, create better products than technology only teams.


But, multidisciplinary teams, while being asked to collaborate, are generally evaluated by metrics that conflict:

  • IT: Software maintainability and velocity
  • UX: Usability
  • Marketing: Traffic and reach

In general, it’s not possible to optimise all three of these metrics at the same time.

Part Two: Better Products 

In an experience economy, consumers value experiences more highly than commodities. We are now living in an experience economy. We are also living in a zero marginal cost economy. The effect of this on SaaS products is significant:

  • Consumers perceive a low exchange value for SaaS products: ie, we all love Uber, but expect the app to be free (even though producing the Uber app costs millions)
  • Consumers perceive a high utility value for SaaS products: ie, we all want the Uber app


From a product strategy perspective, the challenge is in building elements of desire, or trigger points into SaaS products to move consumers along the sales funnel: from site visitor, to free user, to paid user. To do this, we need to start including marketing into the product development process.


Part Three: Stronger Teams 

In order to create amazing SaaS products, we need to create amazing, multi-disciplinary teams. There are two things that need to happen for this to be effective:


1. Create common metrics for success: in order for Marketing, Dev and UX to work together, we need to give them metrics for success that are common, rather than competitive

2. Focus on the common humanity: east together, get to know each other’s weekend projects, sit together, and sprint together


Questions from the presentation:

A number of people asked me about the hand drawn SaaS product journey slide: here is a version that should help you construct your own emotional journey map for your SaaS product. 


If you have any questions about this presentation or want to connect with Anna, feel free to email