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SaaS Application UX Design: Prioritizing Features for the MVP and Defining User Flows — Chapter #2

At Bonanza Design, this is our passion to design for SaaS applications. If you look at the resume of our works, that’d be evident. We have designed for SaaS applications across the board such as applications for Fintech, Insure-tech, HR & Cultural Management, Real Estate, IoT, and health care.

In this article, I’d like to break down how we help our clients especially at the beginning of our collaboration. To focus on features and arrive at a cohesive roadmap for the launch of a product.

Before we begin let me remind you of two invaluable pieces of content you shouldn’t miss:

1. Review Bonanza Design SaaS Application UX Design Stack

We recommend you review the UX Design Stack by which the core pillars of the user experience are broken down. Review here

2. Read about SaaS Application Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding is vital for the scaling of any SaaS application. Without a proper onboarding strategy, you’d be siphoning all your marketing and sales efforts down the toilet. In this article, we went in-depth and breadth to elaborate on the right onboarding strategies for SaaS applications Read here

Now Let’s start…

Regardless of whether a client is going to launch a new app or improve on an already existing application, It’s crucial for us to plan how we can channel our creative energy the best to bring the most ROI for our client.

Why can’t you build everything? And why does prioritization matter?

Often founders, rightfully so, have a bag filled with ideas and would like to see most of them realized. We’d love to get them there but often the budgets are limited. And hence the prioritization is the key.

Also, another advantage to prioritization is that you don’t get ahead of a market. Entrepreneurship is a dance between you and the market. If you get ahead, it resists you. If you lag behind, it leaves you behind.

Additionally, this is also a dance between you and the users’ base. Every little change you introduce will impact and change the users’ behaviors. And often these changes surface with delay. Meaning you launch a new feature to address a user’s pain point or goal and often users’ expectations evolve after using the feature. For example, think about the world of Social Media Marketing before and after the Instagram Stories.

Lastly, when you introduce two features at the same time. You cannot certainly assess the impact of each feature over the overall evolved consumer behavior.

On the first day of our 3-week UX DESIGN SPRINT, we hold a workshop with clients to do only that: prioritization of the users’ needs.

Here’s our Process to focus on features and arrive at Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Step 1: Creating User Personas

Personas are fictional characters created to represent many users who oftentimes share the same characteristics. For example, if you want to develop a SaaS application for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) so they can handle their bookings, customer communication faster. Then your product deals with some personas. Think about these two personas

1) Ahmad – The Internet Savvy

He is a pro techie and already using much software. He always deals with a few screens at the same time. He’s very active and meets clients online and offline all the time. He hops on different airplanes throughout the week and wants a seamless experience that finds him on whichever device he’s on at that point.

2) Sally – The Vintage Lover She

She has a hair salon and is passionate about making people beautiful. She only uses her laptop to watch Netflix and is not great with applications. Besides she always has to serve clients and hardly finds time to sit behind the computer.

Although these personas are looking for a booking application, they work in different contexts and have contrasting characteristics. And that’s when it gets challenging when your application has to serve opposing preferences.

We use empathy mapping as shown in the image below as an alternative to the common user persona template. In case you want to know more about empathy mapping, review this post on our Instagram

 
Empathy mapping template
Empathy mapping template
 

For each targeted persona we’d like to know who they are in general and we seek information about

1. their demographics

2. their personal life and professional background

And then we’d like to know more specifically about how they deal with the challenge at hand currently. Specifically when dealing with the challenge,

1. What do they think and feel?

2. What do they see?

3. What do they hear?

4. What do they say and do?

5. How do they characterize their frustrations?

6. How do they see their experience change if there was a better solution in place?

Step 2: Prioritizing Personas

There’s not a definite number on how many personas each MVP must-have. It depends on your industry and market and what you offer. For a product, we identified six user personas, and for another product, there were only two to consider.

A good rule of thumb, a product cannot only deal with only a persona. It can be that we conclude to develop the MVP around the needs of A specific persona. But, you cannot only have a persona altogether. If you did, you oversimplified reality and it only does you disservice than anything else.

We use a chart as shown below to focus on the persona. We’d like to know which persona, if their needs were addressed in the product, would generate the most revenue to scale the business even further.

 
Persona Prioritization Chart
Persona Prioritization Chart
 
The target areas, the white areas on the chart, would generate the most revenue. A disclaimer here is relying on this chart to rank the persona but does not mean that we have to focus on LOW implementation and HIGH ROI cases. Sometimes we have to sacrifice easy-to-build initiatives. To aim for the ones with high implementation efforts that would play a crucial role in the survival of the business.

 

Step 3: Create Use Cases

Use cases are often expressed in a simple sentence, structured as follows:

“As a [persona], I [want to], [so that].”

For example, use cases might look like:

— Like Sally, I want the appointments booked automatically, so I can do what I love cutting hairs.

— As Ahmad, I want a seamless solution to book clients’ meetings, so I can be more confident in expanding the business reach in different countries.

— As a manager, I want to be able to understand my colleagues’ progress, so I can better report our successes and failures.

Expressing use cases in the form of user stories enables us to focus on the experiences rather than features. Some founders, especially the techie-founders, love to build features. And they may hardly relate how the features improve the user experience. At this phase, we break down the use cases per chosen persona as shown in the image below.

 
Use cases Per Persona
Use cases Per Persona
 

 

Step 4: Prioritize Use cases

And then we repeat the same prioritization process for the use cases to focus on the persona. At this phase, we identify the most promising use cases to focus on and we park the rest for the later versions of the application.

 
 Priotrization of use cases
Prioritization of use cases
 

Step 5: Create user flow for each prioritized use case

After having the list of prioritized use cases, we’ll break down the user flows for each. A user flow is a fantastic method to understand the whole dynamic of the users and application without going into details as you would have to with wireframing.

A user flow can tell you all about the pages needed for the application the actions, the logics, the kinds of backend work, and the external assets (third-party apps).

 
The elements of a user flow
The elements of a user flow
 
Here’s the user flow for adding a new sale item. As you can see below, each user flow starts with a user and has a beginning and end. And throughout, you can tell what kind of assets needed for the journey of the user to be complete.
 
An example of a user flow
An example of a user flow
 

After finalizing all the user flows needed for the MVP, then we go ahead and create the wireframes around each user flow. We’ll go in detail in upcoming articles on how we create wireframes.

 
Thank you for being with us. How did you find this article? Should you share your feedback, please write to us at contact@bonanza.design