Successful SaaS Web Design: Part 1 of 4
This is part 1 of a four-part series on maximizing your SaaS website design for optimal marketing, business development, and sales results.
SaaS Website Design Article Summary
Successfully design a Software as a Service (SaaS) website by establishing a solid foundation through strategic planning. Begin by defining clear goals and objectives at both corporate and departmental levels, ensuring alignment across teams. Prioritize brand goals as foundational to overall growth. Develop your SaaS website strategy that aligns with corporate objectives, brand standards, and positioning. Personalize the user experience by empathizing with ideal customers through segmentation and empathy mapping. Conduct thorough research on competitors and sources of inspiration to inform design decisions effectively. Emphasize collaboration and cross-team communication throughout the process to ensure alignment with project goals and objectives. Following these steps in Phase 1, you can create a SaaS website that effectively communicates your brand’s value proposition, resonates with your target audience, and drives business success.
Phase 1: SaaS Website Strategy Quick Links
- SaaS Website Design FAQ
- Goals & Objectives
- Strategy & Positioning
- Ideal Customer & Visitor Segmentation
- Action Step
- CMO Tips
- Article Summary
The rest of this series on SaaS Website Design
- Part 2 of 4 – Phase 2: Creative
- Part 3 of 4 – Phase 3: Technology (coming soon)
- Part 4 of 4 – Phase 4: Optimization (coming soon)
SaaS Web Design Strategy Fast FAQ:
Question: What does a new SaaS website cost?
Answer: The cost of developing a custom Software as a Service (SaaS) website can vary widely depending on several factors, including the complexity of the application, desired features and functionality, technology stack, development team rates, and project timeline. Here are some cost components to consider:
- Development Time: The more complex the features and functionality of the SaaS website, the longer it will take to develop. Development time typically correlates with cost, as developers’ time is a significant expense.
- Design and User Experience (UX/UI): High-quality design and user experience are crucial for SaaS websites to attract and retain users. Website design costs can vary based on the level of customization and the design team’s expertise.
- Technology Stack: The choice of technologies used to develop the SaaS website can impact costs. For example, using cutting-edge technologies or integrating with third-party APIs may require more development effort and incur additional expenses.
- Infrastructure and Hosting: SaaS applications require reliable infrastructure and hosting services to ensure performance, scalability, and security. Costs for hosting services depend on factors such as server resources, data storage, and bandwidth usage.
- Testing and Quality Assurance: Thorough testing and quality assurance are essential to ensure the reliability and usability of the SaaS website. Costs for testing may include manual and automated testing, bug fixing, and performance optimization.
- Maintenance and Support: Ongoing maintenance and support are necessary to keep the SaaS website running smoothly, address issues, and implement updates and enhancements. Maintenance costs may include hosting fees, security updates, and customer support.
Working closely with a development team or agency is essential to understand your specific requirements and develop a detailed project scope and budget. The cost of a custom SaaS website can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the scope and complexity of the project. Additionally, it’s essential to factor in long-term costs for maintenance, support, and future enhancements when budgeting for a custom SaaS website.
Saas Website Ballpark Pricing
- Initial website minimum viable product (MVP): $7,000 and up
- Post MVP custom website: $25,000 to $100,000 (this is where Propr helps)
- Custom enterprise SaaS Website: $80,000 and up
Q: What are the most common risks when launching a new Software as a Service (SaaS) website?
A: Here are the top five most common risks:
- Security Vulnerabilities: Security breaches can lead to the compromise of sensitive user data, financial loss, damage to reputation, and legal consequences. Common security risks include SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), insecure authentication mechanisms, and inadequate data encryption.
- Data Privacy Compliance: Failure to comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) can result in severe penalties and damage to the company’s reputation. Ensuring proper handling and protection of user data is crucial to mitigate this risk.
- Scalability Challenges: Sudden spikes in user traffic or unexpected growth can strain server resources and lead to performance issues or downtime. Failure to anticipate and plan for scalability can result in poor user experience, lost revenue, and damage to brand reputation.
- Service Reliability: Users rely on SaaS applications to always be available and responsive. Downtime or service interruptions due to technical issues, infrastructure failures, or maintenance can lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn. Implementing robust monitoring, redundancy, and disaster recovery measures is essential to minimize this risk.
- Competitive Landscape: The SaaS market is highly competitive, with new entrants constantly emerging and established players evolving their offerings. Failing to differentiate your SaaS website from competitors or adapt to changing market demands can result in market share and revenue loss. Continuous market research and innovation are necessary to stay competitive.
Mitigating these risks requires a proactive approach, including thorough security testing, compliance audits, scalability planning, reliable infrastructure, and ongoing market analysis. Additionally, establishing clear communication channels with customers and implementing feedback loops can help identify and address potential issues early on.
Q: What is SaaS?
A: SaaS stands for software as a service and is a business model offering fee-based or subscription-based software applications. SaaS companies primarily target B2B companies, but we all use SaaS products and services all the time.
Examples of Successful SaaS Brands
- Google Cloud
Strategy First, Always
We recommend a four-phased approach to designing a high-performing Saas website because this step is crucial to getting the results you desire. Each phase is comprised of 4 linear steps. Follow this guide to maximize this critical investment in your company and products, and you’ll be a star at your organization.
You can reach the stars with a solid because your website will be on a well-built foundation built on strategy.
Step 1: Goals & Objectives for a Successful SaaS Website
Start with goals and objectives to ensure you align your resources and efforts on a single, holistic goal, so teams are on a shared mission and can optimize in their lanes to ensure the mission is accomplished.
The order in which you establish your goals and objectives is critical to success. When teams have goals that do not align with what other teams are doing and working towards, they are left with dysfunction because a shared mission and effective communication are paramount.
Goals and objectives must all support the overarching corporate goals but be optimized in their lanes to ensure a coordinated effort to accomplish the mission. The benefits of developing clear goals and objectives are unifying all marketing, business development, and sales aspects on a common goal.
Define your goals and objectives in this order, starting with leadership:
- Corporate goals and objectives
- Sales & revenue goals and objectives
- Business development goals and objectives
- Marketing goals and objectives
- Brand goals and objectives
While brand goals are at the bottom of the list, we recommend that they be considered the foundational aspect of your growth and given appropriate attention to ensure your company is built upon a rock-solid foundation that will more than support your corporate goals. The more time and effort spent on your Brand Foundation and Platform (need help with that? We have a Workshop just for you), the better all the other growth aspects will perform because your strategy is made clear.
First, the benefits of developing clear goals and objectives are unifying all aspects of marketing, business development, and sales teams and their resources on a common goal. Second, clear goals and objectives will help you identify and hire the right agency partner to bring onto the project team. Suppose the agency partner you are considering isn’t asking about or interested in understanding and focusing on your goals and objectives. In that case, they are not a good fit, and you should keep looking until you find an agency that cares about your performance and results without gimmicks, hacks, or ridiculous promises. However, if you struggle to define your goals and objectives, find an agency partner specializing in strategy, like Propr, and have that be the first focus of your work together.
Some common Saas Website Design marketing, business development, and sales goals:
- Grow revenue
- Increase profits
- Manage risks
- Optimize to scale
- Increase total lifetime customer value
- Attract ideal customers to your site.
- Inform, educate, and inspire ideal customers.
- Collect relevant contact information from ideal customers.
- Segment ideal customers as needed to provide optimized experiences and information based on unique offerings.
- State what you do and for whom, how it works, why your offering is different and better, and how much it costs.
- Any additional information your ideal customers want or need to help make the buying decision easy and convince other internal stakeholders.
- Desired tech stack integrations.
- CMS wants and needs to support marketing and biz dev.
Conversion points will be discussed more below, but start the conversation during your goals and objectives phase by asking the following questions.
- Do we want to ensure we keep in contact with our customers?
- Do we have a newsletter or engage in email marketing campaigns? If so, let’s prioritize an email intake form and landing pages to allow interested visitors to share their contact information.
- Is social media relevant to us and our ideal customers?
- Are software demonstrations important?
What are common SaaS Website Strategy Goals?
- Scheduling a product demo
- Signing up for the newsletter
- Downloading a strategic offer
- Making a purchase
- Upgrading subscription
Step 2: Strategy & Positioning
Website design is a tactic to help your team to accomplish your corporate vision and goals. Treat it as such. Personal opinion, whims, or the egos of your leadership should never guide it. It must perform and do what is best for your brand and future customers. Any other purpose for your website design project will ensure poor performance and outcomes.
How do you develop your SaaS website strategy?
Your website strategy is an optimized brief created to guide all website design and development project team members, entirely based on your marketing, business development, and sales goals and objectives. See how the process is linear by design? A clear and concise website design strategy will help you make good decisions fast, accelerate the project, and get you closer to your goals and a total ROI quicker.
Focus your strategy document on how you will accomplish each level of your goals and objectives for the Saas company with design, content, and tiered conversion points. Collaborate with your marketing, business development, and sales leadership so you’re not guessing or assuming but actively unifying everyone’s efforts. After all, your website is the hub of all marketing activity, and marketing must set up business development and sales to achieve your desired outcomes.
Your website strategy should include your brand standards if you have them because your guidelines articulate how the new design will align with what is established. If you do not have brand standards, if they are dated, or if the website project is part of a rebrand or new branding exercise, slow down! Your website should support your brand and be a robust expression of your brand’s essence. You want to establish those guidelines and branding before investing in a new website. (Shameless plug. How can we help?)
How to use your SaaS website to better position your brand?
Your position should be established through your brand strategy work, and then translating your positioning into a robust and high-performing website must be a priority. Here’s how to do that.
Your positioning is the space your brand occupies in the market and the minds of consumers, competition, and the marketplace. Because your positioning is based on the needs of one or more customer segments and is your answer to their wants, needs, and desires, with proper positioning, you build brand awareness—through marketing— and brand equity —through consistency— so you remain top of mind when the time comes for the customer to take action to solve their need.
According to Hubspot:
“Effective brand positioning happens when a brand is perceived as favorable, valuable, and credible to the consumer. The sum of those three becomes unique to your business, and as a result, your customers carve out a place for you in their minds.”
Don’t underestimate the positive impact a thorough positioning exercise can deliver, but in the short term and for the sake of this article’s advice, start with answering these questions because you must get your positioning statement in a better spot.
- Is our positioning based on price, convenience, quality, difference, or service?
- Is our positioning statement clear and concise?
- Does our positioning statement differentiate us from others?
- Can we use our positioning statement to attract new customers?
- Does our positioning solve a need for a large enough audience to make a profit?
Measure what matters, but data isn’t a vision; it’s evidence after the fact.
How to Pull Your SaaS Website Strategy & Positioning Together
Put these foundational elements together and clearly define what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and for whom you do it, then get it in front of all project team members, including marketing, business development, and sales teams (even if these teams are one person of hundreds, this is half of your brand’s Northstar and team unifier). This sets the stage for the next step in your process, the customer. Keep this document handy, and refer to it regularly. You must use it to quantify all decisions to ensure consistency and performance.
Step 3: Ideal customer & visitor segmentation
As everyone in the product design, marketing, and sales world knows, it is all about the customers because they make the purchase. So, the importance of defining your ideal customer profile (ICP), mapping out their pains and gains, what channels they are on, and what honestly matters most to them can not be overstated. After all, people will always buy, use, talk about, and recommend your products and services. Naturally, it makes sense to empathize with your target audience.
Here’s how to use Empathy Mapping to Connect with your Customers.
First, pull your strategy-minded folks into a discussion to define your ideal customer profile. Don’t skimp on details, but don’t go overboard with “persona building” because some of that is unnecessary. I suggest you use a chart like this to define each audience group:
- Life Cycle:
- AVS Test
Next, you will want to empathy map the following:
- Who influences them, and how?
- What do they think and feel?
- What are their challenges?
- What matters most to them?
- What media channels do they use?
- Are they a user, influencer, decision maker, or champion?
- What does success look like?
- What do they fear?
- Which products/services do they need?
Now, summarize your findings clearly and concisely because they will guide and influence conversions. Next, take #9 and keep it handy when you reach step 5; you’ll use this to segment your SaaS website visitors to provide them with a tailored experience full of the content and information most relevant to their situation.
You now are clear and concise on what you do, why, how, and for whom you do it. You are ready to move on to researching the competition and collecting inspiration for your new SaaS website design.
Step 4: Research
Research for your SaaS website should fall into one of two buckets: competitors or inspiration. Like I say, when I speak to audiences, you must find inspiration from at least two sources; otherwise, you are just copying. And we don’t copy. We don’t look to the major e-commerce or SaaS brands for inspiration because they are on a very different tier, and they can get away with a ton of bad ideas because of their market dominance. Nobody can say Amazon is a well-designed website.
When working with SaaS clients, we ask them to do the following:
- Create a shared document.
- Competitors: Collect all the URLs for businesses doing something similar to you, vying for the same customer, or being a direct competitor. Next to each link, explain what they are doing well and poorly and what we can use as a competitive advantage over their website and offerings.
- Likes: Have the project team (brand managers, marketing, biz dev, sales) share website examples they like, explain briefly what they like and why they like it, and be ready to discuss why it would work for your brand and customers. It can be look, feel, functionality, whitespace, color, typography, etc.
- Dislikes: Do the same for things you do not like or are vehemently opposed to. Keep this part simple; since you have your strategy devised, the creative team will unlikely do egregious stuff with the new website. For example, I don’t like how they don’t show pricing in a chart or the type is too small.
- Tip: screenshots can be helpful to call out specific aspects of your research, particularly to your more visual partners.
How does research improve your Saas Website Design?
Proper research will increase the likelihood of positive outcomes and greater product performance. Understanding the competitive landscape through research is crucial to designing and building a website that outperforms your marketing, business development, and sales competition. I don’t need to say it, but your SaaS website is the hub of all marketing, business development, and sales activity. For instance, if the metrics and KPIs associated with this part of your business are essential (obviously), then research isn’t necessary; it is mandatory.
Researching do’s and don’ts is also mandatory, in my opinion. You want to get everyone on the project team engaged and involved in the process because that’s critical to removing silos while ensuring everyone is allowed to contribute and improve outcomes. It will also behoove you to get everyone on the same page for what is appropriate and not for your new site. The last thing you want is for the sales director to throw a fit because some functionality features weren’t included because no one asked what she thought. A holistic approach to designing your SaaS website is a no-brainer, and it will get you to your goals and objectives faster. So fight for that cross-team collaboration. Lastly, as the great John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, taught us, you have to put things into your mind to get things out of it (I paraphrase). So, feeding your collective minds with what’s good, bad, and interesting will help you inspire the next phase of your effort: creative!
Tips for the CMO
Chief marketing officers, directors, and leaders should pay more attention to pipeline velocity. As we laid out above, there is no better metric in 2024 to prove your worth and effectiveness. The team at Propr wants our marketing partners to become rock stars. Here are some tips for improving your team’s performance and outcomes by measuring pipeline velocity.
CMO Tip 1:
You’d be surprised, but sales and marketing teams often don’t talk or collaborate. That’s insane because you’re on the same team, but I get it. One blames the other for shortcomings because it is the other guy’s fault, right? Wrong. So, tip number one is to proactively break down those barriers and silos and collaborate and strategize with the entire revenue team because your success depends on it. If you are unsure, that includes brand, marketing, business development, and sales. Like all high-performing teams, you all have specific roles in your ultimate success.
CMO Tip 2:
Start with strategy, then plan accordingly. Measure and evaluate often, but never lose sight of your goals and objectives.
If you’re reading this, you’re a marketing or sales leader with specializations and expertise in a few areas. But what may be lacking is a quality-oriented, intentional, simple, and holistic approach to unifying marketing, business development, and sales with systems and processes that perform and provide consistent, repeatable, and reliable results.
That’s precisely what my approach delivers. Let’s connect.
Read more stuff from Bobby G:
- Pipeline Velocity: The Most Essential Marketing Metric
- Top 5 Books for Entrepreneurs
- I wrote a book on Branding!
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