Everywhere you turn today, we hear more and more about user experience (UX). User-focused design, design thinking, usability, user-centric interfaces, and so on, and so on – increasingly, one of the most important areas of focus in product design (and management) is not only what problem your product solves for its user, but how that user accesses, interacts with and, yes, even feels about that product too.
In the past, particularly in the more traditional world of B2B software, the focus on UX was seen as a somewhat frivolous exercise, or an afterthought to be dealt with after the “real” product development was finished. As someone who came of age using DOS and wrote my first code in BASIC, I certainly remember when this was true – software was built to be strictly functional, to accomplish a task and nothing more. But that paradigm of human-computer interaction is over now, and thankfully so.
The mutually reinforcing trends of widespread mobile technology and SaaS now require software to be far more responsive, easier to use and appealing – not just aesthetically (fonts & colors), but in terms of ease of adoption. I want to talk about some best UX practices for SaaS tools in this post, but also about why they’re important, which requires a little bit of history.