How to design a SaaS product: best practices & tips

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25 Jun
20 Jun
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So, you’ve got this amazing SaaS product idea — it’s adaptable, scaleable, and users can access it anywhere. But in today’s fierce online world, what makes it stand out, encouraging users to hit that “sign up” button? Design. Solid, thoughtful, and functional.

Taking great care of your SaaS platform’s interface means your users are in for a treat. From the moment they land on your page to when they’re reading articles or chatting with a support team, their online experience should be flawless. This is exactly the moment when a well-thought-out design can play into your hands. To help you do this without any last-minute scrambles, we’ll cover the tips and tricks to make your SaaS product impressive at every turn.

Why should you care about your SaaS product design?

Let’s face it, in the crowded world of SaaS products, a good idea is only half the battle. To make your software the one users choose and swear by, it needs a design that shines just as brightly. You can add fancy buttons and pretty colors, but the power lies in creating an experience that’s smooth, intuitive, and makes users feel welcome. That’s how you win the hearts (and wallets) of your target audience and turn your SaaS product into a true success story.

Great design makes using your product a pleasure, keeping users happy and coming back for more.
A SaaS platform should deliver users a flawless experience

SaaS design best practices

Frustrated users don’t stick around, and a clunky design is a fast way to failure. To help you boost user satisfaction and keep them coming back, we have prepared a cheat sheet for designing a SaaS platform. So, let’s explore the best practices to make your product from good to great. 

1. Develop a simple SaaS interface hierarchy

To make your platform pleasant to use, start with a simple interface hierarchy. Highlight the most important functionalities by using larger buttons, bolder fonts, and prominent placement. Less frequently used features can take a supporting role with smaller sizes and subtle placement.

Avoid overwhelming users with a lot of options. Group related features together under clear labels, creating a sense of organization and reducing cognitive load. Whitespace, in this case, can be a great solution to benefit from. It lets elements breathe, guiding the user’s eye toward essential actions. Users will intuitively understand where to find what they need, remaining satisfied and engaged.

2. Make easy sign-up

Nobody enjoys lengthy forms. In the sign-up process for your SaaS product, ask for only the necessary information to get users started. Focus on the essentials — name, email address, and a strong password. Also, offer the convenience of social logins like Google or Facebook. This allows users to sign up with a single click, eliminating the need to create a new username and password.

You can show users how far they’ve progressed through the sign-up process. A progress bar or indicator acts as a visual map, reassuring guests they’re almost there and keeping them motivated to complete the process. As a final touch, a strong, action-oriented button text like “Start Your Free Trial” or “Get Started Now” clearly indicates what to do next. 

Throughout the user’s initial use, introduce optional profile sections that gather specific details relevant to their actions. Even after a person has completed the sign-up, there might still be some fields left incomplete. To address this, implement unobtrusive prompts that remind visitors to fill in these missing details. These tips can be triggered at relevant moments, such as when people access certain features or reach specific milestones.

As users interact with your product, ask for specific information only when it becomes relevant to their actions. For example, if they try to access a premium feature, you can request a job title, industry, or phone number at that point.

3. Ensure user-friendly onboarding

There are situations when users face a frustrating experience after the sign-up process. They do not know what to do next and just press the red cross to close the tab. An onboarding process should feel like a friendly welcome, and step-by-step interactive tutorials can help you with this. Use animated walkthroughs, interactive tooltips, or even gamified experiences to make learning engaging and enjoyable.

Offer users actionable tips and micro-surveys. These bite-sized pieces of information can help them get comfortable with features and identify any areas where they might need additional clarification. After completing the onboarding steps, celebrate it with subtle gifs, encouraging messages, or even personalized welcome emails. These small gestures show you care about their journey and make them feel valued as part of your user community.

4. Use common patterns

Utilizing common design patterns is speaking a language users already understand. It creates a sense of familiarity, making navigation intuitive and reducing the learning curve. A hamburger menu icon in the top left corner, for instance, is a signpost for navigation menus. Search bars positioned prominently at the top of the page are another example of bright points helping users quickly find what they need. These familiar touches act as visual shortcuts, making it easier for users to get around and get things done.

The power of common design patterns extends beyond navigation and search. Call to action (CTA) buttons, those clear and concise guides towards desired actions, are another example. These buttons, like “Start Free Trial” or “Upgrade Now,” tell users exactly what to do next. Universally understood icons can also be leveraged to represent common actions, saving space and reducing the need for text.

Don’t create entirely unique navigation systems or button styles. If an established pattern works well and users understand it intuitively, embrace it!

One of the common design patterns benefits lies in their ability to create consistency. By using these established conventions, you can ensure a smooth experience, regardless of whether users are interacting with your website (landing page) or the actual product itself. This consistency extends beyond individual products — if you offer a suite of SaaS solutions, leveraging common design patterns can prevent a jarring mismatch between their styles.

5. Focus on accessibility and adaptability

In today’s multi-device world, your SaaS product needs to adapt and perform flawlessly across desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. Responsive design ensures optimal viewing and interaction on any screen size, creating a frustration-free experience for users on the go.

However, not all information needs to be front and center on a small screen. Utilize progressive disclosure techniques like accordions or expandable menus to reveal additional details when people tap or click. This keeps the initial interface clean and avoids overwhelming users on mobile devices.

Don’t forget about users who might rely on keyboards for navigation. Ensure all interactive elements, like buttons, menus, and links, can be accessed and activated using the keyboard. Unlike the desktop version, fingers are not mouse cursors. Increase the size of buttons and tap targets to prevent accidental presses. 

While designing, keep in mind that not everyone perceives color in the same way. That’s why you should implement high-contrast themes and allow users to customize color palettes to their individual preferences. This ensures everyone can see the information clearly and navigate your interface with ease. For images and non-text elements, include descriptive alt text that conveys the meaning to users who rely on screen readers or might have visual impairments.

A great SaaS platform makes every interaction simple and accessible

6. Organize complex data in dashboards

No one likes to stare at a mountain of data, being overwhelmed by information. And on a user dashboard, this is exactly what you want to avoid. When designing this page, consider that the human brain processes visuals much faster than text. For this, utilize well-designed charts and graphs (for example, bar charts, pie charts, or line graphs) to represent complex data in a clear and easily digestible format. 

Don’t just display data — make it interactive. Allow users to filter, sort, and drill down into specific data points for deeper analysis. If you want to explore more tips and watch examples, check out our “Modern Dashboard Design” article for insights.

7. Add an effective search tool

A powerful search tool should be your user’s best friend, not an afterthought. Place it prominently at the top of every page, readily accessible no matter where users are in your product. As people begin typing their query, offer helpful suggestions and autocomplete functionality. This anticipates their needs and reduces the time it takes to find what they’re looking for.

In addition to core keyword searches, let users refine results using filters based on category, date, author, or other relevant criteria. Keep track of search history and allow visitors to save frequently used searches. This personalizes the experience and saves them time from having to re-enter the same queries repeatedly.

A search bar that suggests results and remembers past searches makes it easier for users to find what they need.

A few more UI/UX design tips for a stand-out SaaS product

We’ve talked about why a great design is crucial for your SaaS product, but how do you actually achieve it? The good news is that there’s a strategic formula (sort of)! By focusing on key UI/UX design principles, you can craft an incredibly user-friendly product. So, let’s break down these basic points one by one to create a platform that users will absolutely love.

Make sure you retain users

The initial “wow” factor of your design is crucial, but the true test lies in keeping users hooked. Get rid of any obstacles that could slow them down, like long loading times or unnecessary steps, and make sure everything works smoothly on all devices. The goal is to make every interaction effortless, allowing users to easily achieve what they came to do.

To top it off, a touch of personalization can go a long way. By tailoring the experience to users, you keep them engaged and motivated. This could be done through data visualizations, handy features to simplify their work, or a bit of gamification for some extra fun. These touches can lead to long-term satisfaction, a loyal user base, and a successful SaaS business.

Analyze user behavior

Sometimes, it might feel like user clicks, taps, and scrolls are unpredictable and mysterious. Well, analyzing user behavior can help you really get to know what your visitors want. At first, try heatmaps. They show you the user’s engagement zones and the cold spots where they get lost. With this data insight, you can tweak button placements and streamline workflows to make sure all your cool features are front and center, not tucked away.

A/B testing is also a great method for experimentation. Try out different designs — maybe test two button colors or a couple of layout tweaks — and see what sticks. Let user reactions dictate the best path forward and help create a SaaS product that really stands out. Don’t stop there, though. There are loads of other methods to explore, each of them making the difference between a product that works and one that users can’t live without.

Take advantage of tooltips or live chat

Intuitive design is fantastic, but sometimes, users need a little nudge in the right direction. To keep their workflow up and running, consider adding tooltips. These discreet helpers appear when a visitor hovers over a feature, offering clear and concise explanations. Don’t overwhelm users with a text wall — keep them brief and to the point, providing helpful whispers rather than information overload.

Real-time support, on the other hand, prevents users from getting stuck. Live chat can connect customers with an expert who is readily available to answer questions, clarify doubts, and guide them through any challenges that arise. Plus, you can take advantage of AI to stay on call and assist your clients around the clock any day of the week. With instant support, you are always there, always ready, making sure no user is left behind.

Update SaaS product design constantly

The world of technology is in constant motion, and user needs are no exception. What worked yesterday might feel clunky tomorrow. That’s why staying on top of design trends is crucial for your SaaS product. This doesn’t mean blindly following every fad but rather understanding how trends can enhance your user experience. 

Embrace the power of iterative updates, consistently rolling out small changes. This agile approach keeps your product feeling fresh, and users engaged. Also, actively solicit feedback through surveys, user interviews, and even A/B testing. Don’t just listen, truly hear their suggestions and concerns, as this valuable data can become the basis for your design’s next iteration.

Halo Lab examples of SaaS project design

The concepts and design elements we’ve discussed are powerful components, but sometimes, seeing them in action is the best way to truly understand their impact. That’s why we’ve curated a list of our SaaS designs that exemplify the best practices we’ve covered.

Praiseworthy

Praiseworthy is a cool employee recognition platform where anyone, inside or outside an organization, can share positive vibes and feedback. For this SaaS project, we aimed to strike a delicate balance between simplicity and visual interest.

Understanding that user’s time is precious, our designers added a handy search bar to make getting around the platform a breeze. To amp up the fun factor, we mixed in images of happy people and some really playful UI elements to strengthen that connection with users. And because we love keeping things light and friendly, we threw in some round illustrated stickers. They’re a cheery twist, bringing a bit of playfulness right to your screen. Plus, doodles and textured shapes give everything a more personal touch.

For the dashboard, our team kept it super clear and uncluttered. We broke the information down into neat sections and used dark green colors with big fonts for easy reading. With plenty of open space, the design is airy and clean, so users can focus on what matters without feeling overwhelmed.

A touch of big fonts, bold colors, and lots of room to breathe

LinkByCar

LinkByCar is a SaaS startup that uses AI to gather, analyze, and aggregate data from vehicles to keep you safe on the road. We set out to show that even a platform handling large amounts of complex data can be user-friendly and straightforward, no matter your tech savvy.

To easily manage heaps of data, we’ve sorted it into neat categories and added simple filters on every page. Users can zero in on cars by model, year, service date, or distance with just a few clicks. Plus, there’s a handy feature for viewing specifics on individual cars or comparing stats across a selection of vehicles. And with route history tracking, people can look back over past journeys, analyze the routes, and find ways to cut down on costs like fuel and time.

The main element of this platform is a custom dashboard. It’s tailored to put everything users need right at their fingertips. With a full-screen map display, we enabled users to spot numerous cars and their exact locations instantly. Selecting a car pulls up all the stats the driver needs without ever losing sight of the map. This way, everyone gets to harness all its powerful features without any of the stress.

Custom dashboard for clear, quick car checks at a glance

Catalyze AI

Catalyze AI harnesses the power of predictive analytics to help professionals pinpoint their ideal customers. Thanks to clever machine learning and data analysis, it provides deep insights, tailored advice, and sharp sales strategies to spur business growth.

Our team was all-in on designing a minimalist website that doesn’t just look good but feels right, especially for financial advisers and real estate agents. We streamlined the site structure into separate pages, making it super easy for users to navigate and find exactly what they need, whether it’s specific insights or broad overviews. Plus, we placed a handy registration form at the bottom of every page so users can sign up on the spot, no matter where they are on the site.

And because everyone loves a bit of fun, we added some dynamic animations and cool hover effects that bring financial data and charts to life. It’s a playful touch that shows users Catalyze doesn’t just solve problems — it makes managing business strategies fun. To top it off, we used bold typography, clean lines, and lots of negative space, achieving a look that’s both minimalist and elegant, with plenty of room to breathe. 

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<div class="post__style-link">For more ideas and inspiration, check out our article “25 SaaS Website Design Examples.”</div>

It’s time to shine 

Creating SaaS products that truly click with your audience could really launch your company into the spotlight. A good design, in this case, is what makes reaching those business goals a whole lot easier. By getting that perfect mix of functionality and knockout user experience, you can craft a product that feels intuitive, efficient, and — dare we say — a joy to use.

If you’re looking for professional help to design your SaaS product, you’re in the right place. The team at Halo Lab is all geared up to take your vision and turn it into reality. Just schedule a call with us, and we can start mapping out your project today. Let’s craft a SaaS website design that goes beyond meeting your needs — it wows your users.

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