May 24, 2023

How to Create ‘Aha’ Moments for A SaaS Product

Creating memorable ‘aha’ moments is essential for any product, especially for SaaS products, to achieve success and grow rapidly. These moments of insight and epiphany make users immediately realize your product’s true value and potential, instantly gaining their trust and engagement.

And creating impactful moments of realization and insight is an

art and requires planning and designing your product thoughtfully, keeping the end user in mind.

In this article, we will discuss how SaaS product managers and teams can engineer those vital ‘aha’ experiences through the product features they build and how they present them.

Solve problems your users didn’t know they had

One of the most powerful ways to create “aha” moments is to build features that solve problems your users were unaware of. When users realize your product can fix an irritant or inefficiency they’ve long accepted as “just the way it is,” it can be a pleasant surprise.

To identify such hidden problems:

  1. Talk to your customers extensively.
  2. Ask open-ended questions to get them to talk freely about their workflows, priorities, daily tasks, and challenges.
  3. Pay close attention to anything they complain about or say is “difficult” or “time-consuming.” This may hint at problems or inefficiencies your product could potentially resolve.

Once you’ve identified such hidden problems, build features that fix them simply and intuitively. When users experience these features for the first time, realizing their value will be an “aha!” revelation. For example, when it launched, Gmail’s ability to filter spam emails was an “aha!” moment for many. Users didn’t consciously see spam filters as a “must have” but instantly realized how much time and hassle it would save them once they experienced it.

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Fix irritants and inefficiencies your customers have long accepted
  • Resolve problems customers never thought could be easily solved
  • Provide value in ways customers didn’t realize were possible

By solving problems your users didn’t know they had, you can create the most impactful “aha” experiences that instantly establish your product’s uniqueness and transformational potential.

Make problems visible and quantifiable.

Another powerful technique is to make invisible problems visible and quantifiable through data and metrics. When users can see hard numbers showing the scale of problems or inefficiencies in their workflows, it creates an “aha” realization of how impactful your solution can be.

For example, when Dropbox launched, one of their “aha” moments was showing users how much time and storage space they would save by switching from emailing files. They made these “invisible” problems visible through facts, charts, and metrics on their welcome screens.

To implement this approach:

  • Audit your users’ workflows to find quantifiable metrics - e.g., time taken, number of manual steps, storage space used, costs incurred, etc.
  • Build features that track and surface these metrics to users - e.g., an interface showing time saved, files organized, money recouped, etc.
  • Present the data visually compellingly - charts, graphs, comparisons, and statistics.

When users see hard data presenting the scale of problems in black and white, it can be an alarming “aha!” realization of how much better off they’d be using your product. For example, a time-tracking app may show users spending over 20 hours weekly on unnecessary tasks. Seeing this statistic could be the pivotal “aha” moment that convinces them to switch.

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Measure and surface invisible problems and inefficiencies in quantifiable terms
  • Present metrics and data visualizations that show users the scale and magnitude of issues
  • Provide an “aha!” realization of just how impactful your solution could be through hard facts and numbers

Making problems visible and quantifiable through data is a highly convincing way to create “aha” insights for your users that lead them to adopt your product.

Exceed and subvert expectations.

Another proven technique for creating “aha” moments is to exceed, or even subvert, your users’ expectations in surprising yet useful ways. When your product does something users never thought possible, it creates a memorable “aha!” insight into its uniqueness and potential.

To implement this approach:

  • Understand your users’ mental models and preconceptions about what a product in your category ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do. Identify anything they take for granted as fixed constraints.
  • Build features that either exceed or go against these expectations in valuable ways. Push the boundaries of what users think is possible.
  • Avoid just matching your competitors’ standard feature sets. Aim to provide capabilities, experiences, and workflows that are truly novel and different.

For example, when GPS navigation was launched, it subverted people’s expectations by offering turn-by-turn directions anywhere, eliminating the need for printed maps. This surprised users but also instantly showed the huge potential of the technology.

Some ways to exceed or subvert expectations:

  • Do more with less. Provide advanced capabilities using very simple, minimal interfaces.
  • Allow remote access and control in unexpected ways.
  • Give unlimited storage, features, or capabilities for a flat monthly fee.
  • Offer AI-based personalized assistance that feels “smarter than expected.”

By building features that exceed, or even go against, your users’ preconceptions of what’s possible, you can create truly memorable “aha” insights into the transformative power of your offering. Users will be pleasantly surprised but suddenly realize the potential to gain more value from your product than they had envisioned.

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Go beyond your competitors’ standard offerings
  • Break expectations of what a product ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do
  • Provide capabilities, workflows, and experiences that feel truly novel and different

Exceeding and subverting expectations is a proven approach for creating that pivotal “aha” moment where users realize just how much more valuable your product is than they had thought.

Leverage unexpected expertise

Another technique for creating powerful “aha” moments is leveraging expertise and capabilities your users don’t necessarily associate with your product. When users discover parts of your solution beyond their initial mental model, it can be a surprising yet compelling revelation.

To implement this approach:

  • Audit the full range of capabilities within your tech stack and team. Identify anything that could provide value for users, even if not directly related to your core offering.
  • Build features that tap into these unexpected capabilities and expertise. Even if secondary, these features can offer users disproportionate value if they fulfill important needs.
  • Avoid positioning these features as the core selling point initially. Allow users to ‘discover’ them organically over time, creating those gradual “aha” realizations.

For example, when Slack launched as a messaging tool, many users initially saw it as a simple communication alternative to email. However, over time they discovered Slack’s extensive integrations and automation capabilities they hadn’t expected from a chat app. This subverted their initial mental model and showed Slack’s true potential as a ‘workspace OS.’

Some ways to leverage unexpected expertise:

  • Provide AI-based features like predictions, recommendations, or personalization.
  • Integrate with various 3rd party tools to offer an ‘all-in-one’ solution.
  • Offer advanced automation capabilities using APIs and scripts.
  • Provide niche features tailored to specific industries or verticals.

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Leverage capabilities beyond your users’ initial expectations
  • Tap into expertise and tech your users don’t necessarily associate with your category
  • Subtly expand your users’ mental model of what your product is capable of over time
  • Create those gradual “aha!” insights that reveal your product’s full potential

By continually surprising users with capabilities they hadn’t expected, you can leverage “aha” moments fueled by your product’s unexpected expertise to reshape users’ perceptions and show how much broader its value proposition truly is.

Take a complex concept and simplify it.

Creating “aha” moments also involves taking complex concepts or processes and simplifying them using your product or service. When users realize your solution has made something notoriously complicated suddenly straightforward, it can be a very impactful revelation.

To implement this approach:

  • Audit your users’ workflows to identify any steps, procedures, or concepts they find incomprehensible or difficult to navigate. These represent opportunities for simplification.
  • Design features that abstract away complexity, obscurity, and confusion using a clean, minimal interface. Aim for the simplest and most intuitive representation possible.
  • Focus on making complex things ‘invisible’ by automating them behind the scenes. Users shouldn’t even need to be aware of underlying difficulties.

For example, when Airbnb launched its simple online booking platform, it created an “aha” moment, making the once daunting process of arranging accommodation when traveling suddenly effortless. Users were impressed by how much complexity had been stripped away.

Some ways to simplify complexity:

  • Offer ‘one click’ options that automate multi-step tasks.
  • Provide default choices or AI-based recommendations to make decisions for users.
  • Hide customizable ‘advanced settings’ behind a single ‘simple mode.’
  • Offer pre-populated templates and wizards to guide users through processes.

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Abstract away complexity through minimal, intuitive interfaces.
  • Strip out obscurity and confusion around processes, tasks, and concepts.
  • Automate challenging elements behind the scenes
  • Create that pivotal “aha” moment where users realize how much simpler your product has made something they previously found difficult.

By taking something perceived as complex and making it suddenly straightforward through your solution, you can create some of the most impactful realizations that instantly establish the value of your product or service.

Offer your customer control and choice.

Giving your users control and choice over how they interact with your product is another effective technique for creating “aha” moments. When users realize your solution’s high degree of customizability, it can significantly reshape their perception of its value.

To implement this approach:

  • Audit your product’s current features and workflows to identify elements that are ‘fixed’ or ‘rigid’ with low customizability. These represent opportunities to offer more control and choice.
  • Design flexible options that allow users to customize features based on their unique needs, preferences, and workflows. Give them as much control as possible.
  • Consider offering simple ‘preset’ options for easy use and advanced customization settings for power users.
  • Use A/B testing, feedback, and analytics to continually evolve and expand your choices.

For example, when Gmail launched with robust email filtering and organization features, it created an “aha” moment by giving users high degrees of control over managing their inboxes. This flexibility significantly increased Gmail’s perceived value.

Some ways to offer more choice and control:

  • Provide multiple interaction methods (keyboard, voice, touch)
  • Allow extensive folder organization, tagging, and labeling
  • Give filter options based on complex criteria
  • Provide APIs to connect with various 3rd party tools and services

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Identify elements currently lacking customizability.
  • Design flexible options that cater to diverse user needs and preferences.
  • Offer simple ‘preset’ choices for easy use and advanced customization.
  • Create that pivotal “aha” moment where users realize how much power and control your solution provides over their workflows.

By offering high degrees of choice and control, you can significantly reshape users’ perceptions of your product’s value and differentiation through memorable “aha” insights into the customizability it provides.

Explain how your product removes the hassle and saves time.

One of the most compelling “aha” moments you can create for users is showing them exactly how much hassle, effort, and time your product will save them. When users realize the workload and inefficiencies your solution can eliminate from their workflows, it instantly establishes its value and differentiation.

To implement this approach:

  • Audit your users’ current processes to identify tasks that take a disproportionate amount of effort, hassle, or time. These represent opportunities for optimization.
  • Build features that simplify, automate, or reduce the steps required to complete those tasks. Aim to minimize hassle and save as much time as possible.
  • Use data and analytics to surface specific metrics showing the effort and time saved - e.g., “30% faster”, “2 click setup”, etc. Communicate these benefits to users.

For example, when Netflix launched its video streaming service, it created an “aha” moment by eliminating the hassle of DVD rentals through quick and easy on-demand access. Users instantly recognized the huge time savings.

Some ways to remove hassle:

  • Offer ‘one click’ options for common tasks
  • Provide AI-based automation and optimization
  • Integrate with other services for a unified solution
  • Give users instant access to content and information

In summary, aim to build features that:

  • Identify tasks currently requiring disproportionate effort.
  • Reduce the number of steps, clicks, and interventions needed.
  • Leverage data and metrics to communicate the time and effort saved.
  • Create that pivotal “aha” moment where users realize how much workload and inefficiency your solution will eliminate from their workflows.

By showing users how much hassle, wasted effort, and time your product will save them - through data and spirit of optimization - you can create some of the most impactful “aha” moments that instantly establish its true value and differentiation.

Use powerful metaphors and analogies.

Another proven technique for creating impactful “aha” moments is using simple yet powerful metaphors and analogies to explain complex concepts or capabilities within your product. When users realize the analogy, it can create an insight into a much broader value proposition.

To implement this approach:

  • Audit your product’s key capabilities and value to identify complex concepts or abstract technical processes.
  • Identify familiar, everyday metaphors and analogies that map closely to those complex concepts - e.g., “Your product is like having a personal assistant,” “It’s like having an extra hour in the day,” etc.
  • Explain those metaphors and analogies prominently on your website, marketing materials, and within the product itself (e.g., on welcome screens)
  • Reinforce the analogies through your product’s naming, imagery, and graphics wherever possible.

For example, when Slack launched, it frequently described itself as ‘email’s successor’ - a metaphor meant to convey Slack’s comprehensiveness as a true communication and collaboration ‘operating system.’ This analogy helped users realize Slack’s much broader potential beyond simple messaging.

Some metaphor types to consider:

  • It’s like having an extra [time, resource, team member]
  • It’s your digital [toolbox, filing cabinet, notepad, etc.]
  • We’re your [personal assistant, memory, backup system, etc.]

In summary, aim to use metaphors and analogies that:

  • Map closely to complex technical concepts within your product.
  • Explain capabilities in simple, everyday terms users can instantly relate to
  • Create that pivotal “aha” moment where the analogy ‘clicks’ for users, revealing a much bigger picture of what your product truly is and does

Using metaphors and analogies strategically, you can create insightful “aha” moments that suddenly help users understand - on a whole new level - your product’s otherwise unintuitive capabilities.

Show the big picture before focusing on details.

Another proven technique for creating powerful “aha” moments is showing your users the ‘big picture’ of what your product does before delving into details and specific features. This can help users realize their full scope and potential in an impactful insight.

To implement this approach:

  • Your homepage and intro screens prominently showcase the overall value proposition and benefit your product provides at a high level.
  • Use concise, compelling copy that clearly explains what problems it solves and for whom without getting into features or capabilities just yet.
  • Illustrate the big picture using high-level graphics, photos, or animations that metaphorically represent your broader mission and scope.
  • After that initial exposition, dive into the specific features, workflows, and capabilities that deliver on that big-picture promise.

For example, when Airbnb launched, one of its “aha” moments was first showing the big vision of a world where people could easily travel anywhere by accessing local accommodation options. After conveying that high-level concept, they explained the specific sharing platform that delivers it.

Some ways to show the big picture:

  • Prominently state your product’s overall purpose in simple terms
  • Describe the broader outcomes and benefits users can achieve
  • Illustrate with analogies, visual metaphors, and high-concept graphics
  • Delay diving into the specifics of ‘how’ your product delivers value

In summary, aim to:

  • First, clearly explain what big-picture problem your product solves and for whom without talking about specific capabilities.
  • Illustrate that conceptual vision at a high level through visuals, metaphors, and analogies.
  • Only after painting that picture, explain the details of ‘how’ your product fulfills that vision through specific features.

By firmly establishing the broader scope and purpose of your offering before diving into details, you give your users an initial “aha” moment where they realize its full conceptual power and potential - priming them to see value in the specific features you later introduce.

Allow testing without risk or commitment.

Finally, one of the most practical ways to create “aha” moments for users is by allowing them to test your product for free without risk or commitment. When users realize the value of your solution through firsthand experience, it can be a very persuasive insight.

To implement this approach:

  • Offer a free trial or test drive period where users can access all core features without limitations for a set time frame.
  • Lower the barriers to signing up by removing forms, requirements, and limitations wherever possible. Aim to make the experience as “low friction” as you can.
  • Provide resources and guidance to help first-time users independently navigate your product and discover valuable use cases.
  • Track usage metrics during trials to identify if/when users have their “aha” moment of realizing genuine value, then prompt them to continue or subscribe.

For example, when Slack launched its generous “unlimited” free tier, it allowed users to fully experience the platform at no cost or commitment. This frictionless “test drive” created many “aha” moments as users discovered the real value firsthand.

Some ways to lower friction:

  • Offer a “sign up with Google/Facebook” option
  • Require no credit card info upfront
  • Don’t prompt users to upgrade until they’re ready
  • Showcase success stories and examples from similar users

In summary, aim to provide the following:

  • A generous free trial or “test drive” that gives full access to core capabilities
  • A seamless, “low friction” signup process requiring minimal info and effort
  • Guidance and examples to maximize the value users discover on their own
  • An environment where users can have their own “aha” moment of realizing genuine value through firsthand experience

By allowing frictionless testing and discovery, you give users the freedom to genuinely recognize the value of your product for themselves - organically creating the most compelling and authentic “aha” moments of insight that naturally lead them to become paying customers.

Introducing Folio: product demo tool for creating “aha” moments

All the techniques discussed in this article for engineering “aha” moments - from explaining metaphors to showcasing big visions - require presenting your product and communicating its value. And that’s where a good product demo tool becomes invaluable.

Folio is an all-in-one product demo solution that allows you to create interactive walkthroughs, screen recordings, and presentations about your product.

You can use it to:

  • Demonstrate features and workflows in a guided, narrated tour.
  • Showcase data visualizations, charts, and graphs in motion.
  • Explain complex concepts using annotations, call-outs, and highlighting.
  • Subtly build to major “aha” moments that reveal genuine product differentiation.

The Folio tool can be used by:

  • Sales teams create customized demos that answer prospects’ key questions and overcome objections.
  • Marketers to develop branded demo assets that communicate the product vision and value proposition.
  • Customer teams to provide guided tours for onboarding, training, and customer success.
  • Product teams to prototype and test hypothetical features and workflows before building them.

Using Folio, you can:

  • Record your desktop in high resolution to showcase your product in use.
  • Annotate and highlight onscreen elements to draw attention to key parts.
  • Narrate your demo in real-time with your voice or custom audio.
  • Add subtle visual effects, transitions, and animation to engage your audience.
  • Embed your demo on your website or web app, or send them as direct links.

In short, Folio gives you the tools to present any aspect of your product in an engaging, informative way - creating the optimal conditions for those pivotal “aha” moments of insight and realization.

If you’re serious about engineering memorable “aha” experiences for your users, a product demo tool like Folio should be part of your arsenal. Learn more about how Folio can help you create demos that make your product irresistible.


In summary, creating powerful “aha” moments involves deliberately engineering insights within your users’ minds that reveal your product’s true value and potential. The techniques discussed — from solving hidden problems to leveraging unexpected expertise to enabling frictionless testing — aim to provide those pivotal realizations that instantly gain users’ trust, engagement, and subscription.

The most impactful “aha” experiences typically answer one or more of these key questions for users in a memorable way:

  • What real problem does this product solve for me?
  • How much hassle, effort, or cost will it save me?
  • What’s truly unique or different about this solution?
  • Is it capable of fulfilling its big vision?

While some “aha’s” will occur organically for some users, the best product teams proactively design them into every aspect of their offering. The insights are then reinforced through messaging, onboarding, marketing, and customer success outreach.

Remember: users don’t need or want your specific product or features - they need what it does for them. Your job is to create moments where they suddenly realize how well your solution fulfills that need.

So as you develop your product, constantly ask yourself: “How can I engineer insightful ‘aha’ moments at every touchpoint to communicate the real value I provide?” The techniques above represent a good starting point.

But ultimately, creating “aha” experiences is an art refined through persistence, testing, and optimization. However, with hard work and the right approaches, you can create a product so valued by its users that every new discovery feels like a profound revelation.

Cover Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Folio 2.0 - Transform your product demos into immersive experiences | Product Hunt

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