10 SaaS Design Principles to Improve Product Experience

10 SaaS Design Principles to Improve Product Experience cover

What goes into creating a solid SaaS business model? Your product is the key. Using the right SaaS design principles can help you build a product that offers value to users. That, in turn, can help drive user engagement and product adoption.

Let’s take a look at a few helpful SaaS design principles and best practices that’ll help you enhance the product experience.


  • SaaS design principles help create intuitive and easy-to-navigate apps that elevate user experience, minimize friction, and improve user satisfaction.
  • There are different ways to improve your SaaS apps through design, including building your website and providing digestible information.
  • Providing easy website navigation for new visitors helps convert them into free trial users.
  • A short and straightforward sign-up process is crucial to attracting users to your SaaS company.
  • Intuitive design principles, such as providing contextual help and collecting user feedback, help improve the product experience.
  • Progressive disclosure techniques help minimize a user’s cognitive load.
  • A personalized onboarding flow improves user activation and product adoption.
  • Checklists come in handy for simplifying complex tasks and features.
  • Empty states can be used to provide relevant instructions and guidance.
  • An in-app resource center empowers users with self-service support and minimizes friction.
  • UI feedback in the form of progress bars and micro-interactions can help set user expectations.
  • Secondary onboarding keeps active users engaged and drives product stickiness.
  • Userpilot offers various tools for SaaS companies to improve user onboarding, collect feedback, and offer contextual in-app guidance. Book a demo now.

Try Userpilot and Take Your Product Experience to the Next Level

Why is design crucial for SaaS solutions?

You can build a product with the most outstanding features. But it’ll fail to engage and retain users if they struggle to use it.

That’s where design steps into the picture. An intuitive and easy-to-navigate user interface (UI) doesn’t just make your product visually appealing. It provides users with the guidance and resources they need to accomplish their goals within your product.

In other words, it sets users up for success and improves customer satisfaction. It also enhances the user experience (UX) and, by extension, the overall customer experience.

Key principles of SaaS platforms

When it comes to SaaS providers, the role of design isn’t restricted to making your product look good. Instead, it’s about providing potential, new, and existing users with a frictionless experience at every step.

That said, here are the key design principles of SaaS products.

1. Provide easy website navigation for first-time users

The user journey truly starts when users make their first visit to your website. Your goal is to gently nudge website visitors to sign up for a free trial or schedule a product demo.

Create landing pages for each service/solution your product provides. Or have landing pages for different use cases of your product.

Here’s how Userpilot uses landing pages and CTAs to make the journey easy for first-time visitors:

Userpilot landing page example.

2. Make the sign-up process frictionless

Nothing drives away potential users faster than a complex and elaborate sign-up process. The last thing you want is to bombard website visitors with a sign-up form that asks for unnecessary details, especially when you’re working on a SaaS model.

Most people don’t have the patience or willingness to fill out such lengthy forms. Also, it can raise concerns about data privacy. Ultimately, you risk losing potential users, which takes a toll on your website’s conversion rates.

The best way to avoid such friction is to create a quick and straightforward sign-up flow. Allow visitors to sign up with their email address and only collect essential data points. Users also appreciate being able to use their Gmail account to log in.

Userpilot sign-up form example.

But what if you must ask users for more details, such as their personal information? Include a progress bar to give a clear idea of how far they’ve come.

3. Use intuitive design principles

Intuitive design principles aim to make your product easy to use. They involve several techniques and here are a few that you can try:

  • Implement interactive walkthroughs to handhold new users through your product.
  • Add contextual tooltips and hotspots to help users understand what steps they should take on a page.
  • Create checklists to break down complex tasks and guide users through each step.
  • Use UI feedback to help users understand how your product is supposed to work and eliminate any mismatch in their mental models.
  • Deploy in-app surveys and other feedback collection methods.
  • Run usability tests to assess your product’s ease of use.

For instance, Notion uses a checklist to bring new users up to speed while highlighting the product’s value:

Checklists on Notion.

Here’s another example of how you can use contextual tooltips to help users understand what each feature/tool does and set their expectations:

Tooltips made with Userpilot.

4. Use progressive disclosure techniques for SaaS products

Progressive disclosure involves gradually revealing more complex information or product features as a user progresses through their journey. It minimizes a user’s cognitive load and helps them understand your platform comfortably.

It simplifies the learning curve for new users and allows them to understand different features better. Ultimately, it helps improve customer satisfaction and product adoption.

For instance, you can use a checklist to walk users through the steps of using a new feature. Other progressive disclosure techniques include step-by-step guides and tooltips.

Also, you can use empty states to tell users what they should do or where they should start from. You can even include multiple screens/tabs on a page to avoid information overload.

Progressive disclosure in Userpilot.

5. Personalize user onboarding for your SaaS solution

If you want to delight new users with a memorable onboarding experience, personalization is the key. It helps users achieve their goals faster and generate the maximum value from your SaaS product.

With personalized onboarding, you can avoid bombarding users with unnecessary information. Instead, you can provide them with contextual guidance tailored to their needs and pain points.

But how do you personalize the onboarding experience? Implement a welcome survey to get user details, including their job role and use cases.

Welcome survey design in Userpilot.

Use this data to group users into different segments and create onboarding flows that cater to specific jobs-to-be-done (JTBDs).

Segmenting in Userpilot.

6. Make information digestible with checklists

Checklists are an excellent tool to eliminate friction from the user journey. They help you walk users through complex tasks by breaking them down into easy-to-understand steps. That makes them indispensable to new user onboarding.

Checklist creation in Userpilot.

Checklists are also helpful when you want to help existing users get the hang of a new feature and maximize feature adoption. You can even use checklists to guide users to the right support resources.

7. Populate empty states with instructional content

Empty states are points in the product experience where you don’t have data to display, usually when a user hasn’t populated their account or they’ve searched for something that doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you should leave them blank.

New users typically come across empty states when they log in to your SaaS product or encounter an error. You can fill them with relevant instructional content to help users figure out their next steps. It’s an excellent way to minimize friction during onboarding.

For instance, when a new user signs up for Mixpanel, the product analytics platform greets them with implementation options, so users can quickly select an option that matches their needs and get started. It minimizes time-to-value and helps increase user activation rates.

Page populated with instructional content.

8. Make help easily accessible

Even with the most frictionless and well-designed UX, users will encounter obstacles. It’s up to you to provide users with the right help whenever such situations arise.

An effective way of doing that is to provide self-service support with an in-app resource center. Create a repository of content that addresses common user queries. You can even publish content showcasing different use cases of your SaaS platform with step-by-step instructions to get things done.

Also, make sure users have the option to reach out to customer support, raise a service request, and share their feedback.

Creating a resource center in Userpilot.

9. Fix mental model mismatches in your SaaS app with UI feedback

Users might expect your SaaS solution to function in a certain way based on their experience with similar products. When your SaaS application doesn’t match these expectations, it creates friction and drives users away.

You can use UI feedback to prevent this from happening.

UI feedback refers to how your SaaS product’s interface is designed to respond to different user actions. For instance, when a user clicks on a specific tool, you can display a message while the new page loads. That way, users won’t be left wondering whether they’ve run into a glitch.

UI feedback example.

10. Use secondary onboarding for active users

Onboarding isn’t a one-and-done process that ends when new users become familiar with your SaaS product. Instead, it’s an ongoing process where you must hand-hold existing users too.

Secondary onboarding involves guiding active users throughout their journey and helping them realize their goals. It could be as simple as using checklists and walkthroughs to help them navigate new features.

Best practices for improving SaaS application design principles

In this section, we’ll outline a few tips to help you make the most of SaaS design principles.

Make design central to the product

Between understanding the target audience and identifying essential features, design often takes a backseat. The discussion around UX design only happens after product managers outline a plan for features and functionalities. This can take a toll on the product experience.

Instead, keep the product and UX designers involved from the get-go. It makes product experience integral to the initial stages of ideation and planning. Also, it helps design teams identify and incorporate customer-centric design elements.

Research your target audience

The key to delivering an excellent product experience is to embrace user-centric design principles by putting users at the center of all design and development decisions.

It involves digging deeper into your target users’ minds to understand their context and use cases. Then, use that information to inform all your product development decisions.

Stay up to date with design trends and existing UI design patterns

Using the latest trends in your product’s design doesn’t just make it look cutting-edge. It also creates a sense of freshness and tells users your solution will keep up with changing times.

So, keeping up with evolving UX design trends is non-negotiable. Trends that deserve your attention include hyper-personalization, localization, micro-interactions, and gamification.

But make sure you don’t follow them blindly. Understand your target audience to strike a balance between new trends and existing UI design patterns that’ll resonate with them.

Test your product’s intuitiveness with usability testing

Usability testing helps evaluate your product’s ease of use and identify areas of improvement. You can choose from:

  • Guerilla testing – Visit a public location, ask people to try your prototype, and share their feedback.
  • Unmoderated remote usability testing – Let users test your product remotely without a moderator.
  • Lab usability testingSegment users and invite individual groups to try your prototype and offer detailed feedback.
  • 5-second test – Expose a part of your product to users for five seconds and ask them about their experience.
  • First-click testing – Determine whether users can identify and follow the happy path to complete a task by monitoring where they click first.
  • Session replays – Use user session recordings within your product to visualize their interactions and understand how they navigate your app.
  • Eye-tracking – Use an eye-tracking heatmap that offers insights into where a user looks on a page.

Conduct user research with in-app surveys and improve accordingly

As a SaaS provider, it’s crucial to remember that UX design is a continuous process. You have to regularly collect feedback from users about their experience and identify ways to improve it.

In-app surveys come in handy here. Include both close-ended and open-ended questions to gain a range of insights about your user experience.

You can implement different types of in-app surveys, such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (customer satisfaction) surveys.

In-app survey creation in Userpilot.


Intuitive and user-friendly design is as important to the SaaS product experience as good features. From implementing personalized onboarding flows and UI feedback to offering self-service support, you can improve product experience in numerous ways. It can help your SaaS business grow.

Ready to take your SaaS solution’s UX up a notch? Get a Userpilot demo to see how you can implement SaaS design principles with checklists, hotspots, tooltips, walkthroughs, and more.

Try Userpilot and Take Your Product Experience to the Next Level

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