JDA Labs Discusses 7 Design Principles for Building SaaS Applications

On Tuesday, September 12, JDA Labs Montreal held their third meetup on “Design Principles as Building Blocks for SaaS.” The audience was introduced to the 7 design principles that are driving the next generation of SaaS applications at JDA.

Design principles are crucial when developing SaaS applications, as the experience is designed for a service, not a product, based on the concept of continuous delivery, and focuses on a bigger ecosystem of touchpoints rather than a one-on-one relationship with a single application. Thus, organizations need to focus on providing a consistent, seamless and integrated user experience. But good principles don’t necessarily provide good experiences if the culture and the processes put in place by the organization are not ready for that change. The presentation took a deeper dive into each of the 7 design principles and how to incorporate them to create efficient user experiences.

Take a look at the 7 design principles that are driving the next generation of SaaS applications at JDA:


This principle is the most used among companies. Clarity and simplicity are universal targets. A user should know what is happening and why, while interacting with an application. He should know what is important and what he needs to do. Ambiguity is avoided, terminology is understood, tasks simplified, data progressively displayed, impact of an action is visible and interactions are straightforward. Clarity means that you should do the hard work first.



To make complex business decisions, users traditionally need to process large amounts of data. With the emergence of machine learning, we can offload some parts of data analysis and identify correlations with other unexpected sources of information. With less energy spent on these onerous tasks, users are able focus on the things they are better at.



Algorithms can be greatly beneficial in assisting the users in making complex decisions in the workplace, but their results cannot simply be exposed to a professional without any explanation. When a user is first exposed to a system that provides this kind of assistance, it is absolutely critical to ensure that a relationship of trust is established. Particular attention needs to be spent on making sure enough information is available to explain the results of a given algorithm and that they are communicated in a way that makes sense.



What if other applications emerge once people trust your application, understand it due to its clarity and see the value in it? The goal is to narrate a story where each SaaS application plays a role and leans toward a common goal. In SaaS, adopting a holistic view is key since once change has an impact on the whole service experience. The success of the service depends on the way the touchpoints are working all together. Applications should always provide a unified, consistent experience on multiple devices and for multiple users. They can live as a single module but are more powerful when they are linked to each other.



If we want business processes to work, we need to make sure that all of the involved parties have the right information at the right time. We want our users to collaborate in order to create opportunities. Our applications help users to make enlightened decisions by exchanging view points and by creating traceability of decisions.



In the retail industry, we do not create needs, we solve problems. We need to make sure that it’s the right problem we want to solve in order to find the right solution. But isn’t “pioneering design ideas” being smart by default? The answer is no, not always. Not all ideas are smart, at least not always at the beginning, and not all smart ideas are groundbreaking. We sometimes have intuitions that need to grow: we need to explore, test, fail fast, retry and retest in order to succeed. Disruptive ideas can be small and become a big key-changer in the industry. To focus on what matters, we need to collect stories, go on the field, look at the gaps and provide improvements that will be communicated in a smooth way. Real innovation is not about technology, it’s about change management.



Designing efficient applications is not enough. We strive at creating strong emotional connections between our users and our products. We make sure they look and feel modern, harmonized, calm, subtle and follow the latest trends.

Want to learn more? Check out the slides from the presentation here.

About JDA Labs

Ever wonder what the supply chain of the future will look like? What technology advancements will reshape the way we do business? We do, every day.

Looking toward the future is the job of JDA Labs, a global research and development team headquartered in Montreal, Canada. Every day, the creative thought leaders at JDA Labs are focused on delivering game-changing new products, winning patents and developing revolutionary best practices that will shape the future supply chain — and deliver incredible results for our customers. Learn more about JDA Labs here.

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