Primary vs Secondary Users UX Design in SaaS

Primary vs Secondary Users UX Design in SaaS cover

Understanding the difference between primary vs secondary users’ UX design is the key to creating a product that everyone loves.

This article explores the differences between primary and secondary users in SaaS UX design and provides strategies for identifying them for your product.


  • A primary user directly interacts with your product to achieve their goals. On the other hand, a secondary user may not directly interact with all of the product’s features, but they benefit from its usage.
  • Primary and secondary users need different things, so you must cater to them separately. This eliminates usability problems and shortens the time to value for both user groups.
  • The first step to identifying both users is conducting extensive research. This could be through primary research methods like surveys and interviews or secondary research methods like product usage data collection.
  • Then, you’ll use the data collected to define your user personas and identify their needs and preferences.
  • Finally, you’ll create prototypes for each user group – complete with all the features they need, define their user flows, and optimize this flow for success.
  • Whether you’re conducting primary or secondary research, Userpilot provides you with what you need to get started. Book a demo now to learn more.

What is the difference between primary and secondary users in UX?

A primary user is a user who directly interacts with a system interface and is most affected by it. A secondary user, however, is affected by the product without directly interacting with it.

You can think of primary users as the core audience for a product. They engage with the product’s features and functionalities to achieve their goals. Whereas secondary users simply benefit from its outcomes without using it themselves.

Why should UX designers consider different users during the design process?

While most products prioritize the primary user, the secondary user also experiences the product’s impact and deserves consideration during its design process for three key reasons:

Different user needs

Primary and secondary users come from diverse backgrounds, have varying expectations and needs, and may boast different levels of technical expertise.

The primary user is your original target audience. They want to quickly start using your product and getting value out of it. They also need all the guidance and support you can provide via onboarding.

On the other hand, the secondary user may need to get some information from your app/website. Although the information there concerns them, they do not need all the complex features used by primary users.

Think of the primary user as the one taking the primary action, such as entering data into a database, while the secondary user takes a secondary action, such as viewing that data.

Avoid usability problems

Focusing solely on one user group during product design can lead to confusing layouts and overwhelming functionalities for other users, causing unnecessary usability issues for them.

By catering to different user interests, you can make the product easier to use for all potential customers. These users are more likely to engage with the product and explore its features.

Shorten the path to value

By anticipating different user journeys and mental models, the UX team can streamline user interactions. This eliminates unnecessary steps, minimizes confusion, and helps users achieve their goals quickly.

Tailoring the product to different user needs maximizes user satisfaction by ensuring each user derives value from the product. You, thus, shorten the time to value, increasing your chances of customer retention.

How to set primary and secondary users apart during the design process

Understanding the distinction between primary and secondary users is crucial to successfully creating products that resonate with diverse audiences. Here’s how to effectively set apart these users:

Conduct primary and secondary user research

Research is key to effectively understanding the difference between both user groups. It helps you to uncover their needs, goals, pain points, and expectations. UX research methods can be divided into two main categories:

  1. Primary research
  2. Secondary research

How to conduct primary research

Primary research is the simplest, most effective way to collect user data for what you’re designing. The purpose of this research is to validate your design ideas and concepts early in the design process.

Some primary research methods include:

  • Interviews: This involves asking questions to individuals. It could be a direct interview with a simple question-answer format or an indirect one that follows a more conversational style.
  • Focus Groups: Focus groups are group discussions guided by a moderator. They let you gather user insights quickly.
  • Surveys: These are written interviews. You’ll provide a list of questions to the respondent, who is expected to write or type out their answers in a specified format.
userpilot survey creator - primary-vs-secondary-users-ux-design-in-saas
Create in-app surveys in Userpilot.

How to conduct secondary research

Unlike primary research, secondary research is more of an indirect survey process. It involves using existing books, articles, or research materials to validate your ideas or support your primary research.

Secondary research is generally easier to conduct than primary research as it involves indirect data collection. This can be from the internet or even from existing company data.

For example, you can use internal company data, such as product analytics data, user behavior reports, marketing surveys, etc., to explain the context behind your design or validate your primary research data.

userpilot trend dashboard - primary-vs-secondary-users-ux-design-in-saas
Collect and analyze in-app user behavior data with Userpilot.

Define your user personas

With your research conducted, it’s time to create your user personas. Analyze the data to identify similarities and patterns in user behaviors and preferences and create your personas around those similarities.

This is where you identify your primary and secondary user groups. For each user group, you need to determine who the user is, why they need your product, and what pain points it will address for them.

Sample user persona - primary-vs-secondary-users-ux-design-in-saas
Sample product manager user persona.

Create prototypes and user flows based on the user research

Finally, it’s time to create working prototypes for your users. What features and functionalities will each group need to achieve their goals? If possible, create a prototype for each user group and conduct usability studies to validate them.

Then, you need to focus on creating a good user experience for each user group. This involves mapping the user journey for both user groups and creating user flows that optimize this journey.

As your design comes to life, be sure to conduct even more usability studies with representatives of both groups. Observe how they interact with the product, collect their feedback, and incorporate that data into your design.

User experience (UX) examples for primary users

A prime example of a product designed for both primary and secondary users is Miro. For the primary user, Miro first asks you to sign up with your email and password or use SSO methods like Google, Microsoft, and Slack.

Miro signup form
Miro signup form.

Next, you’re asked to join a team with your company domain (if one already exists) or create a team (if it doesn’t exist).

Miro's join a team flow
Miro’s join a team flow.

User experience (UX) examples for secondary users

For the most part, a secondary user in SaaS is the user who’s invited to join the primary user. For Miro, the user receives an invite in their email, which they can either accept or ignore.

Miro's invite email for secondary users.
Miro’s invite email for secondary users.

Once you click the link to accept the invite, you’re presented with a simple signup flow to create an account. This flow skips the “join a team” step and adds you to the team designated by the primary user.

Miro's secondary user signup form
Miro’s secondary user signup form.


The user experience for primary and secondary users can be very different. While designing for the primary user, be sure to pay more attention to the needs of the secondary user.

Userpilot provides you with user behavior and product usage data to help you understand the needs and preferences of your primary and secondary users. To get started, book a demo today!

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