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8 Key Design Principles You Need To Know To Build SaaS Products

Yash Chawlani
last edited on
September 29, 2023
4-5 mins

Table of contents

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design principles

Suppose you are considering how you can implement SaaS design principles that can increase retention and make your users feel delighted. 

In this case, you need to ensure that your SaaS products deliver the best possible user experience. 

For this to work, you need to know the key design principles built on understanding why you’re creating that software, what your users and business will accomplish with it, and more!

It’s all about creating a balance between what’s important vs your “why” behind the build and the value it’ll provide in the end. 

In this article, we will cover the key design principles that will help you build those quality SaaS products.

Product KPIs

Categories of KPI
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As you may already know, KPI stands for a key performance indicator. 

These are the metrics that will tell your product managers exactly how your business is performing - good or bad. Some metrics apply to all businesses, but others are unique to SaaS

When you focus on the right KPIs, your data collection is going to be more efficient, and some of the most important SaaS KPIs include:

  • Churn rate
  • Customer LTV
  • Monthly unique visitors
  • Response time
  • Lead velocity rates
  • Conversion rates

There are four key areas that matter for your KPIs within SaaS and design, and these include revenue and growth, marketing, sales, and customer success.

When you define your organization’s objectives and product marketing, you will then need to choose KPIs for your business that is fixed and avoid common mistakes for your business. Your KPIs should also be capable of forecasting.

Creating SaaS products with your product managers means that you have to be customer-focused in your design. 

Your product's KPIs should include user testing and what user expectations you can meet through that testing. 

You should be performing target audience analysis, and you must do what you can to understand the audience and customers you hope to have. With search analytics, social media, and more, you can ensure that your SaaS product meets the KPIs you set. 

Your design process has to get into the minds of users that you want to target. Your KPIs should map out your customer journey, and the fundamental principles you use will ensure that your product is a success.

Best Practices

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As an entrepreneur, you want to know that you can get the customer feedback you need for SaaS product development and design. 

This should include design systems for SaaS products, as this feedback is vital.

You have to work to get your customer audience and product managers engaged and excited about what you can offer, and feedback is essential for this. Your product marketing team will also thank you for it.

The good news is that there are plenty of options to get your audience engaged, including the list below:

Visual design feedback apps

These are great for customer engagement, as so many of your customers will respond to visual surveys, visual presentations, and queries over anything else. 

Your design has to be driven by your customers to build the perfect SaaS customers, and these feedback apps can help you to get the proper feedback for success.

Ease of use

All SaaS applications should be easy to use, self-service apps. Your customers should be able to use it without much help. Customers stay with your core product if they don't have to ask for help too much. This is where A/B testing can help create a smooth experience. 

Live chat apps

If you want to be open to your customer-driven design, you need to ask your customers for help. Live chat allows your customers instant access to you to give you suggestions and feedback you can work with.


Social media platforms like Instagram are famous for their story polls these days, and you can use these to draw your customers in and get their feedback. 

People LOVE to participate in polls, and if you want to sweeten it, offer a discount or offer on your core product just for participation.

The point is engagement from your audience, and all of these points will help you to achieve it.

Have A Clear CTA For Signup

A call to action is something that customers should see the moment they sign onto your online store. This is something designed to make an obvious point to sign up, to purchase, to - well, whatever you need the customer to do. 

Clear CTA example

Call to action buttons save your customers time, and that should be a goal for you as it can also make onboarding simple. 

When you consider what your call to action should be, think about lead magnets. You need to dangle a carrot in the form of a button asking for an action to be completed, and this can be to give away something valuable or offer a discount. 

Lead magnets can also come in the form of epic content that draws in the customers, fun videos that announce your products, and talk about you as a leader. 

These are things that can help you to encourage your users to get what they want - hello, freebies! - and it enables you to gather information and set them up for more free content and discounts. 

You can make your content as valuable as possible on your website, and when you do this, you can place your call-to-action buttons in the right places for your customers to opt-in, spicing things up with interactive content. 

If you are clear about your business call-to-actions, you will attract the right customers every single time, and they will keep clicking that submit button.

Define Your Target Users

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Before you can market your SaaS products, you have to be able to define your target audience. 

The best way to do this is through analytical programs that can pinpoint the behaviors of your target audience, who they are, segment definition, and more. 

If you understand how to segment your customers, you can better spend your budget without wasting too much money on things you learn that will not work.

Things like PPC can work for your business to ensure that you define user personas and segments. 

“We have done a lot of market research with Google Search ads, for months before building a specific functionality or integration. On the one hand, it works to gauge demand, and on the other hand, it’s opened the door for doing customer interviews to better understand the needs of potential customers,” says Katheriin Liibert, Head of Marketing at Outfunnel.

Your target audience is a selection of possible customers who you can expect to purchase your SaaS product. 

The target user definition will depend on what you hope to accomplish with your product, and they could be those who respond to a particular message via your marketing campaigns.

For example, if you want to target users over a specific age who regularly buy a certain product, you can use analytical software to help you work out your users. 

SaaS UX is so important, so add this to a priority list. This will help you target that group of individuals better and make the best possible decisions for your SaaS product. 

Target audience analysis can help you pinpoint what they want, allowing you to improve the SaaS products you hope to advertise to them and enhance product onboarding. 

Once you know who your target audience is, you can ensure that you offer the right product, which encourages a higher purchase rate.

Make The Signup Workflow Simple

Signup workflow
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A big part of creating the best SaaS products is in ensuring that the signup workflow is a simple one. 

Customers don't want to fill in complicated forms and tons of boxes, but they do want to sign up to receive a free trial or a free forever “lite” plan. 

This enables your company to gain the email addresses and data it needs without too much of an interruption to your customers.

We are lucky enough to benefit from modern security advancements these days that allow us to choose between multi-factor authentication or single-sign-on. 

Single-sign-on works in the opposite way to multi-factor authentication, in that your customers only need one sign-in to get into their account.

When they create an account, they may benefit from multi-factor authentication, but in the meantime, SSO allows your customers a more straightforward way to sign up without all of the annoying layers to get to where they want to be.

If you want customers to buy into your SaaS products, making their signup simple should be a priority in your customer experience list.

If you are offering a free trial for your SaaS product design, you want to ensure that you instill some trust with your users before they make any buying decisions. 

Of course, your biggest priority is getting people to sign up at all, and that’s why you need to make it easy! 

There are no long forms to fill in just to try something out - all it does is chase people away, which is the opposite of what you want for your software product. 

Priority vs. Achievability

What do you want to prioritize when it comes to building features into your SaaS products? 

Whatever your list of priorities is, you have to list them in order of importance as well as in the order of what can be achieved. 

Optimizing for the time of your designers and your customers is vital. 

Whether it’s prioritizing your designers by expertise, niche, design strengths, and the passion of the individuals of your team, order of priority is important for success. 

The right list of features should be prioritized, too!

The design of your product is of utmost importance, and if you have the right mix on your team, you will be able to build your SaaS products and know what will be achievable for what you have in mind. 

User experience is the end goal, and your design team needs to gear as much as possible towards your audience’s needs and wants from your products.

Make sure all your product updates are effectively communicated to increase engagement and adoption. For example, you can use a changelog to announce new features and keep your users aware of the latest developments.

Thus, your SaaS products will be successful with the right priorities in your design team.

Team Alignment

You must keep everyone happy in creating your SaaS products and ensuring that it doesn't mess up along the way - and the best way to do this is by aligning your product teams. Your team can use note taking software with AI capabilities for analyzing your meetings and capturing vital information so nothing gets left behind. 

You also need your product managers, marketing team, designers, sales team, and users all working together to ensure that your product meets your interests and passions. The key is in team alignment, and that’s not always easy to do.

Understanding the direction of your product is the first thing that you can do for a simple onboarding process. 

Next, talk to your teams and your user test group, and then get them all talking together. When you do this, you can collate all of the ideas and information and get the best possible feedback for a group that works together. 

Functional Complexity

Designing your SaaS products has to be done with performance in mind. 

There’s no use in your product managers designing something that won’t work or won’t encourage your target users to follow through in their purchasing decisions.

You must use design software to prototype landing pages, user interfaces, and more before hardcoding everything into your SaaS product. 

For example, did you know that whitespace and negative space are a design trend that will load faster? 

On each page, you should think about eliminating unnecessary elements so that your product is functional, prioritizing visual communication above anything else. 

Consider The Cost of Switching

Do you have existing SaaS product users? 

Upgrading your product with your product managers is a natural progression as your customers make purchasing decisions, but it’s something to pause on first. 

When you upgrade a product or you redesign something, it’s important to remember your existing users.

Are you upgrading because you want to, or because you want to keep up with the competition? If your users are happy, they may be unhappy if you upgrade without collecting feedback first. 

Speaking to your existing customers ensures that you don't step on any toes while pulling in new customers. Your software doesn't have to be different to be able to stand out. 

If your customers are already happy with the design and style that your product management team created, there is no real need to upgrade and upset the status quo - right? 

Discussion with your existing customers helps you to keep your customers loyal. They will feel as if their opinions matter, and that’s how you can work to keep your customers on your side. 

The cost of switching isn’t always a financial one: not when it could cost you customers.

Building SaaS products takes time, prioritizing, and a good understanding of what your customers want. 

Things are constantly changing in the world of software, and it’s up to you to decide whether you can keep up with those changes or not!

Yash Chawlani

Yash Chawlani is a Digital Marketing Strategist who is known by his personal brand Merlin. He specializes in SEO and Social Media and helps various B2B and SaaS companies out there with his top-notch content strategies. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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