SaaS Design Principles for Navigation and Onboarding

SaaS Design Principles: As a software designer, I’m always looking for ways to make the user experience more simple and straightforward. That’s why I was excited to discover the fourth principle of SaaS design: making onboarding easy.

Onboarding is the process of getting new users set up and acquainted with your software. It’s often seen as a necessary evil – something that needs to be done quickly so that users can get started using the product. However, if not done correctly, it can be a major source of frustration for users (and lead to churn).

There are several things you can do to make sure your onboarding process is smooth and painless for your users. In this blog post, we’ll go over a few tips that will help you create an amazing onboarding experience for your customers.

SaaS Design: Cloud-Based Software Delivery Model

SaaS design is a cloud-based software delivery model. It is software that is delivered over the internet and accessed through a web browser.

SaaS design is a subscription-based model where users pay a monthly or annual fee to use the software. SaaS design is a scalable and flexible way to deliver software to users.

Why UI Design Matters for SaaS

94% of users say that their first impressions of a SaaS product are based on its user interface.

88% of users give up on a piece of software if they aren’t happy with the onboarding.

59% of users say they prefer good design and usability over content and features.

The user interface design of a Software-as-a-Service product is aimed at creating a visual representation of the service’s features.

SaaS UI design is all about delivering an intuitive and visually appealing interface that makes it easy for users to understand the product’s functionality. This results in quicker brand recognition and higher customer retention rates.

Want to convert more free trial users into paying customers?

Create user experiences that immediately connect users to your software, lowering your cost of acquisition.

SaaS Design Tailored to Your Target Audience

User research and design go hand in hand. UI design should be based on extensive market research, so you can be sure that your software will be designed with your target audience’s needs and preferences firmly in focus.

Thanks to a user research-driven design approach, your software’s UI will immediately resonate with your target audience, ensuring rapid adoption and high subscription renewal rates.

Business-Focused Designs

By designing the user interface for your SaaS, you share the responsibility for your product’s success.

Your design team should follow the latest trends in web design, while also taking into account your business’ unique branding, marketing, and customer support goals.

Early UI Samples

To ensure that your design will look the same on desktop and mobile devices, you should ask for both a desktop and mobile sample at the beginning of your project, before you sign a contract. That way, you can avoid confusion or disappointment later on.

Why You Should Invest in SaaS UI Design

Only 6% of users will ignore your UI when testing out a product. A third of those people will still like the products despite the bad design.

Your product needs more than just good features to be successful – it also needs to have a great user interface (UI) design that will encourage users to keep coming back. If you can offer both, you’ll have no trouble building a loyal customer base.

Make sure your app has a professional user interface that matches your high-quality software!

The 1st Principle: Global Website Navigation

Offering your software as a service, your potential clients will likely want access to various features such as your core functionality, reporting, and account managers.

These should be the front and center of your website.

The first principle of good web design is to make it easy for your customers to navigate your site. Remember, you are selling your products online.

Your website is the only place where you can create a positive image of yourself for your prospects.

Your main tools should be accessible on your landing pages, but too much clutter can overwhelm visitors.

When designing your website’s global navigation, consider using a vertical or horizontal menu bar. This will allow you to provide more links without overcrowding your dashboard. Remember to include as many features as possible while still avoiding a cluttered look.

Here are a few examples of great website global navigation:

  • Freshbooks
  • Hootsuite
  • Flow

The 2nd Principle: Frictionless Sign-Up

Would you be comfortable filling out a huge sign-up form when all you want to do is try an online product? Most people wouldn’t be, and that’s the friction I’m talking about.

Many business owners are under the impression that they need to gather as much information as possible about their customers. But, with software as a service, you have many more touch points as your customers use the product.

You can use these in the future to collect information, so you don’t have to gather everything upfront.

At sign-up, we only collect the essential information needed. If you’re signing up for a free trial of our SaaS product, all we need is your email address.

The fewer fields you require for signing up, the better. If you are offering a trial period, try asking only for credit card information. However, this may cause some people to hesitate.

A good call-to-action (or CTA) can help direct your leads to your landing pages.

Your CTA button should be easily visible on your landing page, and any distractions that might keep a visitor from clicking should be removed.

AB testing your CTA button can help you determine what works best.

A great design for your software as a service (SaaS) website includes displaying your testimonials and social proofs in a way that doesn’t distract your visitors from your main call to action.

When visitors know that they don’t have to pay anything, it increases the chance that they’ll sign up for the trial.

The 3rd Principle: Focus On Your Target Audience

Your SaaS product is designed for a specific target audience, so focus your marketing efforts on reaching them.

Identifying and targeting your ideal customer will result in a more successful product launch.

Only focus on them.

However, don’t confuse your target audience with a market segment, for e.g. small business.

You can target a specific market, but it is not necessary to do so.

The key is to focus on what your SaaS product offers.

Let’s take the example of MailChimp.

When looking at their homepage, you’ll find only an automated marketing tool. If a smaller company wants to automate their email marketing, they can purchase MailChimp, but larger companies can also use it.

The call to action on Mailchimp’s homepage is above the form, which makes sense because businesses who want automation are their target audience.

The moment you hit their site, it’s clear what they want you to do: sign up for free. There’s no other distraction on the page.

The 4th Principle: Make Onboarding Easy

Your clients will consider buying from you for either of the two following reasons:

  • Their current app is not working the way they want
  • They need new tools for a reimagined business

If your product onboarding is difficult, customers will not want to buy from you. SaaS UX design should make onboarding simple and easy to understand.

Cloud-based team collaboration platform Slack is a good example of simple onboarding. The app is easy to set up even when you have a big team. The platform makes it a breeze to get started and keeps everyone on the same page.

Slack makes it easy for new users to sign up, create teams and channels, set up integrations, and add new team members with its step-by-step onboarding instructions.


SaaS design is all about making the user experience simple and straightforward. By following the four principles of SaaS UI design, you can make onboarding a breeze for your users. Implement these four tips into your onboarding process to create an amazing experience for your customers from start to finish.

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