Admin consoles are typically used to let SaaS (software as a service) administrators configure and manage software for their organization – adding and removing users, assigning licenses, enabling features, managing billing, etc. The SaaS admin console experience is often a second-class citizen in terms of UX, as vendors spend most of their time working on improving the end-user experience. However, as more and more companies hope to expand their product offerings directly, with new features and services, or indirectly, through integrations, the role of the console and those using it becomes more important.
To get a better sense of what admins think about the consoles they use and how they roll out new features, we surveyed a handful of them.
Of our 12 respondents, the average number of apps they managed was 5, with offerings from Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon, and Okta being the most common. Overall, these admins reported neutral or above-average grades for the consoles they used most often. However, they pointed out a wide variety of issues, including:
“Having to look around to find certain functions of the admin console when they aren't properly documented.”
“Fixing mis-configurations and/or making sure patches and updates are installed correctly.”
“Often in these portals I find that key information and tasks are hidden away in areas that are often unclear or vague. This increases the time spent performing these tasks and also brings my confidence level in the applications down.”
So what could be improved? As with pain points, there was no consensus. The most common items on the wish list centered on:
One admin did mention “New features & how they apply to my organization” as the No. 1 most important improvement to their console experience, which should be music to the ears of product managers. And while others didn’t explicitly mention this, 8 of the 12 did report that they were critical in promoting new features and services.
Finally, for vendors rolling out new services, admins made it clear that email and collaboration tools, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, were the leading ways to get the word out.
It’s important for those building SaaS apps to spend time improving many aspects of the admin experience. While most of the console will have to be used no matter how intuitive, the ability of these tools to effectively promote and roll out new services should be explored.
From conversations with admins outside of this survey, we’ve learned that they are hesitant to simply click a button to blast out new capability to their organization. Providing a solid value proposition that can be shared with business leaders and influential power users, as well as allowing admins to test out new services with smaller groups of users, will likely lead to a greater chance of driving new service adoption.
If you would like to chat with us about UX research or design for improving your admin console, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.