SaaS business

3 Aha Moment Examples That Can Redouble Your Retention


mins to read

In 1924 George Mallory was preparing to summit Everest. A dozen people have previously perished along the way, so the New York Times reporter rightly asked the climber why he wanted to risk his life on this formidable mountain. Mallory replied, "Because it is there."

In August of that year, Mallory and his partner Andrew Irvine disappeared on the way to the peak. 

We retell this iconic story for the last hundred years because it’s an unprecedented case of man’s desire to conquer the universe. We’re not like Mr. Mallory. Your clients are not like Mr. Mallory either. 

If you compare any SaaS app with Everest, you’d be amazed by the number of people who signed up and started their user journey just to leave in the very first days. The picture below shows that about 80% of people who signed up finally abandon an app. 

what is typical retention for SaaS
That’s how few app users are as determined as Mr. Mallory

Part of your contract with app users is that there's something worthwhile at the top of the mountain. Something valuable. But to reach that value, users have to learn how the app works, which is a tough task, because…

  • How do I find out more about this? 
  • Where is that feature I’m looking for? 
  • What should I do next? 

As a UI/UX design studio representative, I’d say there’s always something confusing for users in their user experience. And as they get trapped, people rarely show stoic persistence to continue the user journey just "because your app is there." They’ll go check Twitter, they’ll poke around for a smaller mountain nearby. And maybe the current solution to their problem is not bad at all?

Is there a way to reduce the number of churned users?

The picture from above says that the retention is almost the same for SaaS, eCommerce, finance and media apps. No industry has a recipe to stop the churn.

Best-of-breed companies in each category, however, seem to know something that most entrepreneurs never figure out. Just compare the retention dynamic for the top 10% apps in each category (the chart on the left) with the retention dynamic for median companies (the chart on the right). 

retwntion trends in digital software
Image credit: openviewpartners.com

Elite SaaS companies somehow manage to understand users better and retain them almost twice as good (38%) as median apps (20%). 

If we match the two curves, we’ll notice that the tails of the charts are roughly the same, all the difference happens within week one. Best-of-breed apps make initial contacts with users in some specific way that retains even impatient ones. 

first impressions really influence retention
Image credit: openviewpartners.com

“Aha” moments is the secret they don’t tell you

We can define  “aha” moment as a user's emotional reaction to the discovery of how they can truly benefit from your app. 

The most famous “aha” moments story belongs to Chamath Palihapitiya, ex-Facebook executive. In the darkest times when Facebook had 45 million users and MySpace had 115 million, the Facebook team coined their formula of 7 friends for 10 days. The rest was history.

After all the testing, all the iterating, all of this stuff, you know what the single biggest thing we realized? Get any individual to seven friends in 10 days. That was it. You want a keystone? That was our keystone. There's not much more complexity than that.

Chamath Palihapitiya

Facebook is a social network, and until users connect with a certain number of friends, they can’t feel any of its wonderful network effects. I still remember when I first signed up for my Facebook account, without a big friends list, I quickly lost interest. 

But as soon as the number of friends rose, I started getting new posts every time I smacked the update button. Here came the “aha! now it makes sense” moment. That first insight was a turning point that kept me from bailing on my account.

Like any other social media, Facebook doesn’t leave your “aha” moment to chance. The company builds its onboarding path so that newcomers have no opportunity to feel lonely in their brand-new accounts. 

  • Facebook pulls in a list of suggested friends from your Gmail account. 
  • It recommends friends from your school, college, and the company you work for. 
  • It puts a big square blue “Add friend” button everywhere so that you don’t forget to add your friends.

Best product “aha” moment examples under the microscope

Any unsuccessful app is unsuccessful in its own way, but any successful app is good in hooking users with “aha” moments. So let’s reveal what is an “aha” moment for some best-of-breed SaaS apps and what exactly they are doing to make people stick.

Calendly and their step by step “aha” moment strategy

Why would anyone need a paid scheduling service when we all have Google Calendar, this free-of-charge perfection? And still, Calendly became an inherently viral meeting scheduler. After getting through its onboarding process, I see how it happened.

After the signup, Calendly offers you to schedule your first event. And as you go, you meet some little gems:

  • “aha, I can specify the location where both parties will connect at the scheduled time” 
  • “aha, I can add some buffer time before or after events” 
  • “aha, I can collect payments inside the app” 
  • “aha, I can build automatic workflows around events” 

These little features that Calendly strategically put on my road to the main value of the app made the road engaging. 

How customers collect Calendly’s “aha” moments
How customers collect Calendly’s “aha” moments, to the sound effects from Super Mario

But the kill shot was Calendly’s invitation to try booking my newly created event. What a smooth booking it was! In front of my eyes was a recent back-and-forth scheduling dance I had with my hairdresser, and in a moment of sudden, I realized the unique value that Calendly offers. 

Calendly aha moment meme

Monday’s road to “aha” when there’s no shortcut

Monday.com is a universal team management tool that works equally well for running a real estate CRM or an editorial calendar. When you see a tool so universal, it means that its customers not only stay in front of a mountain that pierces the clouds, the mountain also has numerous peaks. It’s a mountain range with multiple “aha” moments for multiple types of users. 

For Monday, the road to “aha” starts not from showing you its finest features as it was for Calendly. It starts by cutting off all irrelevant branches of the road.

Monday’s road to “aha” moment
It's right that way up, let me show you the road

Monday asks users to self-select their roles, goals, and use cases to steer them toward features and templates that make them say “I’m glad I am using this tool.” I’ve selected a marketing branch at the very beginning of my trial and since then, through contextual tips, Monday was guiding me to my marketing success.

Monday wants to know how are you going to use the app
Monday wants to know how are you going to use the app

Monday allows a single-player mode but knows that in most cases the user reaches their “aha” moment after they invite their colleagues. So next the app pushes you (a bit aggressively) from solo productivity towards team productivity.

Monday onboarding is pushing you hard meme

Another reason for pushing users hard is competition.

Monday.com is a relative newcomer to the team productivity space, which is pretty cluttered, full of large funded competitors. 

Monday's competitors in team productivity

For the product design team, it means plenty of testers, and it also means that if they nail fast, accurate and relentless onboarding experiences for each tester they win. 

That leads us to a stream of reminders, emails, and push notifications that works pretty well. Monday didn’t become a meme as the most annoying app (check the Duolingo meme craze). Instead, it became the fourth fastest growing app in 2020, with 149% growth year over year. 

Canva: I came, I saw, I said “aha”

The article comes to a close and I feel we know each other well enough for personal stories. Nobody knows, but when I was a child, I wanted to be a designer. Not for long, though, because I was traumatized by Photoshop and Illustrator, principal (and very complicated) design tools of the old times. That's how I became a writer — text editors were pretty intuitive even 10 years ago.

With all that background, it took me five minutes to fall in love with Canva, the easiest design tool on the planet Earth. The user onboarding is also the easiest — an engaged user doesn’t even have to sign up for the product to start designing. 

Canva removes all the obstacles in the way of your “ah-ha, it can be that simple to make pictures” moment. The product itself is so straightforward that users rocket to the top of this not-so-steep mountain before even noticing it.

Canva aha moment meme

Yes, this app has a lot of limitations that you discover afterward. But it’s too late, you’re already hooked. And for non-designers, it’s still better than Photoshop.

“Aha” moment notice and note

Canva has taught us to pave the way in front of a user rushing to their “aha” moment so that no one tripped on an unclear feature or confusing form.

Monday showed us that personalization can help to point users toward the “aha” moment meaning that is relevant to them. And sometimes it wouldn't hurt to push them in the right direction with some reminders.

Calendly proves that you can engage users climbing big mountains by showing them little fancy features all the way up.

And Eleken design agency examins best practices from all over the world, so if you’ll need someone to create onboarding flow that will leave your customers forever hooked… you know where to find us.

Dana Yatsenko


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SaaS business
min read

What Is an MVP and How to Define It

Did you know that before going public in 2009, Spotify spent about three years testing their assumptions about the product’s viability, learning how to handle copyright issues, and defining the overall quality of their service with the help of a limited product version?

The ability to correctly define and then iterate an MVP enabled Spotify to become a service with more than 365 million annual users. And this is not the only case in history when startups benefited from these three trendy letters.

Eleken is a design agency that provides various UI/UX design services, including MVP design. And in this article, we want to help you finally get a clear understanding of the following topics: 

  • What is an MVP?
  • What is its purpose?
  • And most importantly, how can you define it for your project? 

What does an MVP mean?

In a nutshell, a minimum viable product (MVP) is such a version of a product that has a basic set of functions enough to solve a specific problem and is used to validate an idea in the early stages of the product life cycle. An MVP allows you to understand whether people are ready to use your product and pay a commercially viable price for it without spending the entire budget.

Unlike the prototype, an MVP has to be validated by a measurable experiment in a real-world market. An MVP does not necessarily have to be coded. It can be a simple landing page that describes the product, a service that only imitates automation where you manually help users accomplish their goals, or something else. However, “MVP” doesn’t mean bad or low-quality, it should bring value to your customers, solve their main problems, and provide a consistent user experience.

Where does the term MVP come from?

The origin of this term goes back to 2001 when Frank Robinson coined it to describe the result of synchronous product and customer development. At that time Robinson defined an MVP as follows:

 “The right-sized product for your company and your customer. It is big enough to cause adoption, satisfaction and sales, but not so big as to be bloated and risky. Technically, it is the product with maximum ROI divided by risk. The MVP is determined by revenue-weighting major features across your most relevant customers, not aggregating all requests for all features from all customers.” 

Still, MVP became really popular after Eric Ries described it as a part of his Lean Startup Methodology to emphasize the importance of learning when developing a new product. Here’s the MVP definition by Eric Ries: 

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product a team uses to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

According to the Lean startup methodology, to find out how to create value for your customers and business, you can use the three-step process loop “Build-Measure-Learn”. MVP here is your start point, you build a product that can help test your business hypotheses quickly, show it to users, gather their feedback, based on learnings, build a better version of the product, and iterate (continue improving on the solution until it solves a problem). This way, a minimum viable product helps you get the data that pushes your business forward.

lean startup cycle
Lean startup cycle. Image credit: bigjump.com.au

Since the MVP concept first appeared in Agile terminology it was given numerous different definitions and underwent some transformations. For example, Henrik Kniberg offered terms Earliest Testable, Earliest Usable, and Earliest Lovable Product. In fact, there is no need to get into the MLP vs MVP battle. After all, they all serve the same main purpose. Let’s move to the next section to learn what this purpose is.

What are the goals of a minimum viable product?

The main goal of creating an MVP is to test the idea before moving to the development of a full-fledged product. By creating a product or service with basic functionalities only, you validate if there’s a need for the solution you want to build while saving time, money, and mitigating risks if your idea fails.

For example, one of our clients, Habstash, had an idea of building an app that would help people save for their own houses. But to make sure people need such a tool and check how potential users would react to different features they addressed Eleken to quickly design an MVP with fresh UI and intuitive UX. 

dashboard for a SaaS fintech company
Habstash’s dashboard

Other purposes of an MVP product development can be: 

  • Quick launch
  • Entering the market with a small budget 
  • Collecting maximum quality feedback from early adopters 
  • Finding the product-market fit
  • Generating revenue to inject some valuable cash flow to a business/give confidence to investors/hook new investors
  • Increasing flexibility in future development

Once you launch your minimum viable product, you can start gathering valuable information and asking customers for feedback. The sooner you find out how customers use your product and if they are willing to use it at all, the sooner you can adjust your plans or stop investing resources in something that won’t succeed.

What are the examples of an MVP?

MVP approach successfully exists not only in books and numerous articles but also in real use cases. Here are five examples of companies that started their way with something small and simple.


To test the idea that people are willing to rent short-term accommodation directly from the landlord instead of booking an expensive hotel room, founders of Airbnb, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia created a simple showcase website and filled it with photos of their own apartment. At that time AirBed&Breakfast had neither payments (you had to exchange money with the host in person) nor map view (you couldn’t check the exact location of the accommodation on the map).

And such a minimalistic website was enough to validate the idea, Brian and Joe got their first clients and understood in which direction to move further.

Airbnb MVP
Image credit: thehustle.co 


From the very beginning, it was very important for Joel Gascoigne, the CEO of Buffer to create a product that brings value. For that purpose, he created an MVP that looked like a landing page with a product description, a list of features, and several pricing plans. If some visitors were interested in picking a plan, they were informed that the product is not launched yet, but they could join the waiting list. Next, which is very important, Buffer’s team used the emails of people from the waiting list to ask them for their needs, expectations, and finally to be closer to a perfect market fit.

Buffer MVP
Image credit: rst.software


Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, the founders of Uber, managed to identify the problem people faced in their city: it was difficult and expensive to find a taxi in rush hours in San Francisco.

To quickly launch the service to market, they created a simple iOS app that performed just two basic functions: it connected those who want to get a ride with drivers and allowed payments with a credit card system. There were no reviews, no driver tracking, no payment automation but these two features solved users’ problems well.

When UberCab first launched, there were already some similar services on the market, so quickly creating an MVP prevented Garrett and Travis from missing valuable time on developing a complex platform and allowed them to quickly validate their business idea.

Uber MVP
Image credit: rubyroidlabs.com


The last example here is our client Cylynyx, a no-code graph visualization platform. When Cylynyx came to Eleken for an MVP design they already had a demo version of the product that allowed them to gather some feedback from potential customers.

Still, this demo version lacked functionality that is vital for idea validation: it didn’t allow users to subscribe and store files in the software. Therefore, the main purpose of an MVP technology was to make it possible for individual users and corporations to subscribe, upload data and edit its visualization.

Now Cylynyx’s MVP is still at its test phase and if you want more information about its design process, you can read our Cylynyx case study

MVP for a data-visualization SaaS
Cylynyx’s graph editor

How to define an MVP?

After years of experience in UI/UX design, we at Eleken formed our approach to designing an MVP, which looks something like this:

  • Stage 1. We talk to you to learn your product vision and create a user flow.
  • Stage 2. We build the structure of your app visualizing it with the help of wireframing.
  • Stage 3. We test wireframes with potential users and make all the needed improvements.
  • Stage 4. We work out the visual part of the product.
  • Stage 5. We hand off ready design to developers and make sure they have all needed to implement it

But none of these stages is possible without you as a product owner. Our designers can’t move any step forward without your vision and your feedback, especially at step 1. So, when our customers approach us with the question “What should my MVP look like?”, here’s how we help them define a minimum workable set of features for their products.

  1. Define the problem you are going to solve and align it with the business objective

The problem your product is going to solve should justify its existence, and explain the need for its creation. 

  • Write down the answer to the question “Why do I want to build this application/service?” 
  • Once you have the answer, conduct comprehensive research to make sure there is a place for your product on the market. Analyze the competitors and find out who are the people willing to pay for your solution.
  • Next set a business objective that you want to achieve with the product (more revenue, reach a new audience, and so on).
  • Then define the KPIs that would prove your success. For example, in a year you expect to have 5000 subscribers for your service and 200 paying users. Then divide this year into shorter milestones needed to achieve your final goal, as in the example below.
planning an MVP: timeline
  1. Define the core value proposition

“V” in MVP stands for “viable” and to define what makes the product viable, you have to clearly understand:

  • What value the product would bring to customers and to your business
  • What pain points of those customers it is going to address
  • Who the people that experience that pain are

Taking into account the fact that an MVP is not your final product, but a starting point for market experiments would be to focus on a small number of users when defining a value proposition so it’d be easier and cheaper to reach them.

To define your core value proposition you can use the value proposition canvas.

value proposition canvas
Image credit: b2binternational.com

Value proposition canvas helps you to distill value from your idea by breaking it down into nine essential components. It consists of two major parts: customer profile and the value map. In their turn, each part is divided into three sections that describe specific features of a customer or product respectively.

Start filling the value proposition canvas with “customer’s jobs”, then write down the “pains” they may feel when trying to get those jobs done. Next, specify “gains” the customer expects to receive after the job is done.

As the customer profile is ready, we move to the value map. Write down the services/products your value proposition offers to get the jobs done. Next, fill the “pain relievers” section describing how your products/services can reduce the customer’s pains. And finally, outline how the product creates the gains.

Now, take a look at both parts, and try to find a match between what your customer wants and what your service/product offers.

For example, here’s what the value proposition of a taxi booking app may look like:

value proposition canvas example
Image credit: uxdesign.cc
  1. Define the list of features

Once you understand what value your product is going to bring its customers, you need to outline the minimum viable product features.

Start with outlining the user journey.

  1. Use the information from the value proposition canvas to think of several major use cases the user will have to do within your product to solve their problem and write them down.
  2. Write features and development tasks required for each step. Write down everything that comes to your mind, no matter how expensive or difficult it can be to implement them, focus on how these features can serve the value proposition.
  3. Group the items based on dependency.

   4. Prioritize features

As the result of a previous stage you will have a full list of features grouped into clusters. Now it will be easier for you to sort them according to priority.

There are several prioritization frameworks that can help you at this stage. Let’s take a look at three of them.

  1. Prioritization matrix
prioritization matrix example
Image credit: medium.com

Prioritization matrix helps you define which features are more critical and urgent so that you can focus on what matters most. The X-axis determines how crucial the feature is for the MVP success, and the Y-axis shows whether the feature needs to be included as soon as possible or in later releases.  

  1. MoSCoW approach
MoSCoW diagram
Image credit: lucidchart.com

With the MoSCoW approach, you take the list of features and divide them into must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won’t-haves. Make sure you have some items in your won’t-have graph as well. In case you don’t, perhaps you are not prioritizing well enough, there are always some ideas to reject when you just start with your MVP features.

  1. Kano model 
Kano model diagram
Image credit: solmesz.medium.com

Kano model is especially loved by our product designers. It works great to prioritize features focusing on customer satisfaction. The Kano model allows you to weigh those features that are more likely to be high-satisfactory against the investment needed to implement them to choose the correct priority.

Don’t fall in love with your MVP

Remember that the idea of a minimum viable product is to produce the minimum workable set of features that brings your customers real value and allows you to learn the needed information to manage risks and adjust your further steps to produce a better product. It’s just your step one in the whole product life cycle.

Looking for a design team for your MVP project? Let’s create an MVP together for you to learn if your idea meets users’ needs.

Let's talk →

SaaS business
min read

Scaling Your Startup - How It Looks from the Product Design Perspective

At the time you notice that your startup has a steady flow of revenue, the existing processes in your company start feeling small, and you understand that your users expect more from you, probably it’s time to scale.

Deciding to scale a startup is an exciting, yet challenging process that can add a couple of gray hairs to your head because if you want to expand to new horizons, you have to take risks.

As a team of product designers, we believe that having a reliable product team, as well as a carefully thought out approach to the product design helps to eliminate the scaling risks and make your business a few steps closer to success.

And though there are a lot of articles on the internet that provide general tips about scaling your startup, here we want to focus on two challenges from the product design perspective:

  • Growing your team
  • Expanding your product

But first of all, let’s make sure that we mean the same thing when saying the word “scaling”.

The difference between growth and scaling

We know that growth is the second of four product life cycle stages, but very often we hear the word “scale” in the same context. Though these two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between scaling and growing that is important to discuss in terms of our topic.

So, what does it mean to scale your business, and what does it mean to grow your business?

Let’s start with “growth”.

When growing a business we are generating more income. But in order to generate that additional growth, we have to add new resources (purchase additional materials, get a new office, hire more employees, serve more clients, and so forth). And all those things incur a bunch of other expenses. For example, you’ve generated an additional hundred thousand dollars in revenue, but it cost you eighty thousand dollars. It means you made twenty thousand dollars, which is still great.

Now let’s move to “scaling”.

When you scale a business, you generate additional revenue without entailing that same degree of expenses. Spendings rise incrementally or stay at the same level. For example, you managed to increase the amount of income by four times, without hiring a single employee. Instead, you automated some processes and spent little money on them. That is, scaling means growing exponentially.

Below is a graph that will help you better understand the difference between growing and scaling.

startup growth vs startup scaling

Now some important facts to mention about scaling:

  1. Scaling is not better than growing, and vice versa. The choice depends on the specific needs of your company, team, and customers.
  2. Scaling is not completely feasible for all businesses. It’s not something that all kinds of startups should opt for to become successful. However, it works well for the tech industry.

In this article, we focus on scaling as a faster and budget-friendlier way to develop your business. 

The last point we want to mention before moving further is that before scaling your business you as a tech startup owner should make sure that

  • You achieved your product-market fit, that is, your product has its audience who needs it.
  • You have a stable flow of revenue which proves you’ve found the product-market fit and helps attract investors to fund your growth.

In the next sections, we will discover what startup scaling challenges wait for business owners and learn how to cope with them.

What you can do to scale your business from the product design perspective

Unfortunately, among all the roles in SaaS companies people often underestimate the role of product design in their projects’ success. They would rather hire an additional engineer and then take care of finding a strong designer. Therefore, to begin with, let’s state why it is worth considering product design when scaling.

In 2018, McKinsey conducted research aimed to identify the value of design for businesses. Based on the research, they created the McKinsey Design Index (MDI) that orders the companies according to how strong they are at design and shows the correlation of this fact with companies’ financial state.

McKinsey found out that businesses with top-quartile MDI scores outperformed the percentage of annual growth rate by as much as two to one (see the graph below).

scaling startup annual growth rate
Image credit: mckinsey.com

To be more specific, here is one fact from Airbnb’s scaling story. Airbnb’s founders understood that they had the same target audience as Craigslist. That’s why each time people offered their house for bed and breakfast on Craigslist, Airbnb’s team would email them and ask if they wanted to make a post on their platform.

Airbnb scaling story
Image credit: hackernoon.com

That’s how they reached a new audience, but the next question is: How did they manage to retain them? Here comes the power of design. Once a visitor discovered Airbnb, they were impressed by visually appealing property images and the great user experience that the platform provided.

Therefore, sending emails to Craigslist’s users and showing them the real value of Airbnb with the help of great product design led to the rapid growth of this vacation rental platform loved by people all over the world. 

Good design is essential for product adoption and retention rates. It makes the product useful, understandable, aesthetically pleasing, and innovative. Therefore, when thinking out your business scaling strategy don’t forget to take care of expanding your product design team.

Growing the design team

Product designers’ duties involve having a deep understanding of the users and the value your product provides to them. As well, product designers should be aware of the company’s business goals and make all the design decisions taking into account the product's business strategy. Thus, a scaling stage startup needs product designers not to make the product "beautiful", but to ensure that the new features/offering you plan to deliver evolve your business and bring value to the customers.

A bigger design team allows you to come up with ideas faster, and most importantly, validate them quicker and more effectively. In its turn, idea validation lets you assess users’ and market’s needs, ensure you don’t implement innovations based on unverified assumptions, and therefore, prevent your scaling startup from going onto the wrong path.

Though, understanding the need to grow the team doesn’t make this process easy. Below are three main challenges that you as a product owner may face when expanding the design team:

Organizing and optimizing work processes

A 50-person team won't survive the processes of a 5-person team. When you start with one designer who performs a vast variety of duties, there’s no need to build a clear structure around the design process. Once your team starts growing you’ll have to think out how the product design department should collaborate and function to keep consistency. 

That is, you have to come up with a set of standard algorithms for how your team conducts research, ideate, validate, test, communicate, exchange ideas, and so on. Such an algorithm includes defining the tools they should use, the documentation they have to fill in, the principles they have to follow, and more.

On the other hand, scaling is not only about getting more of everything: people, products, revenue, processes. It’s also important to find things that slow you down and optimize them.

Some processes that used to work well in the past can become redundant for your scaling business, like the process of getting approval, or communication overload. For example, the former CEO of General Motors, Ed Whitacre, decided to cut down the number of paperwork workers had to deal with. By eliminating the number of reports employees had to fill in, they got more time to think of innovations and come up with new ideas. This way, Ed Whitacre managed to help the company scale more effectively.

With the defined tools and processes in place, you can start growing the team and its structure.


When you enter the growth stage and your scope of work increases intensively, you may feel a great need to hire just any product designer you can find. However, hiring the wrong employees is one of the reasons why startups fail.

Here's what Diane Greene, the founder and the former CEO of VMware, says about hiring at scale: “It’s a good thing to remember that hiring will get easier as you scale — but you should also never drop your standards.” 

It’s always more important to take care of the quality of the employees than their quantity. Hire those UI/UX designers who understand your product vision and have some experience in the field you work in so that they can facilitate the company’s growth. Besides, choosing a product designer who understands your product’s mission will help you maintain the company culture at scale.

One more difficulty that you may face here is the fact that the average time to fill a position is 42 days and time is your most precious resource. The solution to the faster quality hiring process may be to outsource design work.

Hiring external professionals will help you quickly find additional pair of hands to help you cope with a greater workload, and take on several ongoing projects. Additionally, outsourcing can give you a fresh look at your business, reduce costs, and, of course, save time.

For example, you may expand your team with Eleken. All our designers are product designers with expertise in creating SaaS applications. We work as in-house employees, but remotely, focusing on one project at a time. Therefore, when we design new functionality, we dive deep into the essence of your existing product with its business logic, design systems, and UI patterns to make sure we help you grow your business effectively.

Structuring the team

As Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, recalls, at the time the company stepped into its hyper-growth stage at the beginning of the 2000s and reached about 400 employees, Mr. Page began to miss the good old days without the bureaucracy and all those managers running around. Therefore, he decided to get rid of all of them. The result was that about 100 developers now had to report to one executive. Of course, it wasn’t a change for good.

The moral of this story is that business at scale does need some hierarchy and new roles in the company. The thing is to structure the team correctly.


It is impossible to find a perfect candidate for each position, therefore our advice would be to look for designers that are experts in one area, but also have good general knowledge in other fields to take another role if needed. This is called a T-shaped designer.

t-shaped designer skills

This way, when your team scales, you won’t have a knowledge gap because of the overlap between your employees’ skills.

The number of designers

The situation differs from company to company, but here's what Jesse James Garrett, the UX designer and the co-founder of Adaptive Path strategy and design consulting firm suggests on his Twitter account:

the number of designers in a startup product team

Still, there's a myth going on that the number of designers usually affects the project’s length. The quality of the outcome depends on the designer’s skill set, not the quantity. So, if you have enough time, you may opt for hiring fewer design specialists for your project.


According to Jason Culbertson's webinar Scaling UX in Organizations, the way businesses organize their design team depends greatly on the number of employees they have.

  • Up to 10 designers: roles often overlap between team members: one designer can be responsible for the user interface, user experience, and UX research. Team members may work on different product features/products all at the same time.
  • Up to 25 designers: designers are distributed into product teams, each team member has their specialization, and a couple of designers start working on the design system part-time.
  • Up to 50 designers: the team that builds and evolves the design system grows from 1-2 to 3-4 designers and starts working full-time.
  • Up to 100 designers: separate teams are responsible for everyday product design tasks, owning the design system, and so on. 

Expanding the product

When your startup scales, the team, the number of code lines, and features scale with it. As the result, it becomes difficult to control that every new employee adheres to the company’s design standards and principles to keep your product/s consistent and user-friendly. Additionally, if your designers work in distributed teams they may start performing repetitive tasks, like creating a new version of button design and the like, which is not only a waste of time and resources but also the worsening of user experience.

This mess in the design process negatively affects the product’s performance. Therefore, once your product team grows beyond 15 designers and the company has more than 500 workers, it’s definitely high time to build a UX design system.

UX design system is a collection of standards to manage scaling business design. It ties together all components of your product like colors, typefaces, and illustrations in a structured and unified way. It also helps to fix inconsistencies and build a unified visual language to help you create a scalable product.

For example, once the Eleken team had to work with TextMagic, a customer experience platform that evolved its product vision and decided to expand the number of products they had. Luckily, they already had a well-developed design system, and though we had a lot of work to do, putting Textmagic’s design system in practice allowed us to stay productive, quicker cope with the workload, and keep consistency across the whole product set.

Chat performance overview via Textmagic’s comprehensive dashboards
Chat performance overview via Textmagic’s comprehensive dashboards

To sum up

Investing in product design can help your company stand out in the market and favorably influence the overall business growth. To be able to cope with all the challenges that a scaling phase brings it’s important to have a reliable team with you. 

So, how about hiring a senior product designer at Eleken? Share the details of your project, and we will provide you with the best expert for the job.

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