In a highly competitive, almost saturated market, SaaS companies are finding it tough to attract and, perhaps more importantly, retain customers. In order to achieve this, developers need to keep their tools relevant for users, says Testlodge founder Scott Sherwood.
The SaaS market is growing at a pace, around 18% year on year. That means saturation is rife, and there are likely tens of similar products attempting to solve the same problem you are.
Market consolidation is causing problems for ordinary firms too. Big hitters like Microsoft, Intuit, and Square all spent over $10 billion on SaaS acquisitions in 2021 — putting a lot of money behind the companies they’ve acquired.
The integration of AI will also see more users seeking new ways to use older services more efficiently. If developers don’t take action to keep their service relevant, they may find themselves lagging behind. Here are three of the problems our developers have faced in recent years and our experience of getting around them.
Keep your tool lean
SaaS tools should always aim to be as lean as possible. Bloated tools that try to be everything to everyone often collapse under their own weight. Solidify your specific offering to be the best at that in the business rather than trying to appeal to too wide a range of people. That way you can keep your UI modern, sleek and agile.
This will help you patch things too as you don’t have to cover a plethora of problem items and encounter issues of your own. It will also help you keep track of how your interface is changing as you grow.
Your stat and log files will tell you what pages and functionality get used the most. From experience, only 5% of users ever noticed a rarely used piece of functionality is gone. When removing large features, we have turned them back on for the few complaining users and maintained it for a while longer, while keeping it switched off for everyone else. It’s about the balance of keeping a tool lean without upsetting users.
It’s important to show users you are listening, even when you can’t bow to every demand. Engaging with requests while managing expectations is key to keeping users happy and reducing churn if someone feels they aren’t getting the service they might need.
For example, at Testlodge had a lot of individual users requesting specific fields to store data. Adding them all would have made the tool very bloated and reduced the speed and cleanliness of the UX. To get around this, we added a custom field to allow users to define their own specific fields they want without impacting other users. Listing to feedback is important, but finding generic ways to add funcitonalty that is useful to all is critical to keeping software relevant to all users.
Keeping your tool as relevant as possible requires maximum efficiency. For example, making the log-in easy. This might be as simple as changing from a username, which many users often forget, to using an existing email instead.
At Testlodge, we realised we’d made things too complicated by having users access their accounts from <their account name>.testlodge.com. Now, everyone goes to our homepage or app.testlodge.com instead. To make this work, it was key to transparently redirect users to the new URL if they entered via the old one — and few people even noticed.
This allowed us to adopt new tools such as auth0.com for login for added security. We also added a link to the login page on the homepage, and changed the infrastructure to allow for a more maintainable code base.
It’s amazing how many well known tools fail to make easy changes like this. You don’t want your users feeling frustrated every single time they access your service.
Ultimately, we found that committing in these three areas truly improved the ease of use of the platform and improved customer experience all round. The aim is to stay relevant even in the face of market saturation and the rise of AI, and we hope that sharing our learnings will help you do the same.
Scott Sherwood is the founder of the software testing tool TestLodge. Having previously worked as a developer for more than eight years, Scott created TestLodge after being frustrated with the cluttered and clunky testing tools that he felt made it harder for him to do his job. Today, the platform is used by thousands of users in more than 120 countries.