Design and user experience (UX) is one of the most important aspects of SaaS. Good design will go a long way to not only convert customers but also help them engage with your product and return to it again and again.
But how to find a person that can create a stunning UX for your SaaS customers?
No worries! Here at Eleken, we specialize in designing for SaaS. To make your task a little easier, we will walk you through all the essential information on how to find a designer for your SaaS app.
In this article, we will figure out what skills such a designer should have, discuss the places to look for a designer, give you tips to use during the interview, and help you define the right time to start your search.
First of all, to be able to correctly and fairly assess each designers’ portfolio, you need to understand how good SaaS design looks like.
What is special about SaaS design?
The ultimate goal of a designer is not to amaze users with an outstanding user interface of the SaaS product, but to make them say "wow" to how easily and efficiently the app helped them solve their problem.
For that reason, a good SaaS design should have the following characteristics:
As SaaS products tend to scale up quickly a professional designer should always take this fact into account. To be able to cope with the constant evolution and growth of a cloud app, instead of spending all time and effort on creating tailored components for the current need, a good designer makes things adaptable and scalable to future needs. That means a SaaS designer should know how to work with design systems.
After all, scalable design always pays out in the long run. For example, when we were working on TextMagic, the cloud-based company that provides a range of products for marketing, customer support, and sales, we used Wizard, a powerful design pattern to simplify the process of configuration of email marketing campaigns. In general, using the design system in this project made the whole design process faster and more productive (read more in our case study).
The fast and simple sign-up process
The next thing that lets your customers quicker discover that your product is efficient and they need it is the frictionless sign-up process.
Due to the specificity of the software-as-a-service model people access the product with their browser, that’s why they usually don’t feel comfortable filling in too much data straight away only for a trial period (especially billing data).
Designers that understand the essence of SaaS tend to make the sign-up process fast, clear, and brief. For that reason, they use short forms, remove all unnecessary information and create clear call-to-action buttons.
Let’s take a look at Trello’s sign-up process.
It is super fast and easy. The visitor sees a short fill-in form that asks only for an email address and a bright call-to-action button with a clear copy “Sign Up - It’s Free!”.
That’s how the visitor has to go through only one step to get the job done.
Clear and noticeable call-to-action buttons
When the customer uses the app, they should understand what they are supposed to do and what will happen after certain actions. CTAs help users quickly achieve their goals and easily complete tasks.
The effective CTAs that convert visitors into customers are usually of appropriate size (big enough to notice), contrasting, and have a persuasive copy.
Here is an example of a well-designed CTA created by our team for ClientJoy (former Gridle).
The headline presents the value proposition of the Clientjoy and then logically the attention of the reader goes to the contrasting call-to-action button that says you can “sign up for free”. The size and the color of the CTA make it easy to notice. To learn more about this project, check our showcase.
Intuitive and clear page architecture
The UI patterns like forms, button styles, pages, reports should hook the users. When patterns are consistent and intuitive, it makes products sticky and habit-forming.
Minimalist and clean design is the first step to eliminate unnecessary features and clutter from your cloud app. It helps users focus on the core parts of the application and bring order to the overall layout.
The SaaS product that is known for its simplicity and clean minimalistic design is Dropbox.
Even newbies for this app will easily understand how it works and what they are supposed to do. The minimalistic design and clear navigation leave no place for confusion.
Designing the SaaS products requires deep consideration of users and their behaviors as the first and foremost task of any cloud software is to bring value to the customer. SaaS UX design works like an instrument that helps to deliver value and create a user-friendly and practical product.
Duolingo is a great example of a simple and highly intuitive application that has a main focus on its users. Duolingo’s design resembles a video game. It is full of interactive visuals but at the same time, there are no unnecessary elements that may confuse the user.
This application for learning languages shows what human-centered design is all about.
SaaS products help users process big amounts of data. A good SaaS design essentially presents important information quickly for its users. The most frequently accessed data, updates, pending approvals, and a quick summary of key events encourage users to keep coming back.
For that reason, a designer of cloud applications should know how to make easy-to-comprehend dashboards that provide users with all the necessary data.
Take a look at the dashboard Eleken designed for TextMagic. It allows managers to quickly understand how their team is progressing and if customers are satisfied.
Based on the above principles that contribute to effective SaaS design, we can formulate what skills a designer of cloud-based software should possess.
The position of a SaaS designer requires:
- To own the end-to-end design process including user research, prototypes, test ideas and refine designs with data and customer feedback
- To state clear problems based on research and data
- To identify user needs, iterate solutions
- Ability to create/work with existing design system proficiently and consistently
- To choose logical UI patterns. Deliver polished visual design and transitions
- Expert knowledge of user-centered design principles
- Proficiency in modern design and prototype tools (Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
Now we understand whom to search, the next essential question is where to search.
Places to look for a designer
With the understanding of the specificity of SaaS design, it would be easier to look through CVs and portfolios.
Let's check some places where you can find a designer for your application.
Upwork is a global job search platform that offers help for employers who want to hire and manage remote professionals. Here you can find a freelancer or a freelance agency, interview them and begin to collaborate.
Here you can find profiles of app designers with their experience, reviews, and links to portfolios.
Designhill is a popular creative marketplace that helps companies and individuals find professional designers to perform designs of different complexity and scale. You just have to describe your needs, fill out a design brief and wait for a response from professionals to choose the one that you like the most.
One more way to find a good specialist is to search on Behance. The site includes lists of portfolios from different designers. So you can find the samples you like, check who their creators are, and reach out to them.
We also have our works on Behance.
Similar to Behance, Dribble provides a list of works of various designers and creatives. Filter the specialty you need ("SaaS app", "web design" "interactive design", “SaaS dashboard”, “b2b dashboard” etc.), find works you like, and contact their creators.
Check our works on Dribble.
Clutch is a platform for B2B hiring decisions. There you can find design agencies sorted by objective client reviews, experience, client list, etc.
Eleken has a profile on Clutch as well.
Word of mouth
Asking your friends and acquaintances for advice may seem like a little outdated method, but don't neglect it. Talk with people you know, ask if they have contacts of designers that may be relevant for you. Who knows, maybe someone from your network has faced the same problem and can provide you with useful references.
Don’t know where to find something? Just Google it! I guess you know how to use this tool perfectly well. Google gives access to a huge amount of information, but don't forget to carefully check the agencies or freelancers you find there.
Ok, now we know where to look for a SaaS designer. Let’s imagine you’ve browsed dozens of design portfolios and narrowed down a list of your candidates to the top 10. The last challenge is to make the final choice.
How to understand who is the right person to hire?
Hiring a SaaS designer is a challenging and responsible task, as design can make it or break it for your cloud application. Below you will find a couple of tips to help you make the right decision.
Determine your requirements
As you are looking for someone who knows how to design a SaaS application, you need a person who understands the specifics of your SaaS business and your target audience.
A professional who is responsible for both business aspects of the product and creating a consistent user experience is a product designer. That’s why to help you create the correct list of requirements for your designer read the product designer job description.
In order to make sure that you and the designer have the same views on what your SaaS application design should look like, prepare references of applications and websites that you like.
Analyze the market and your competitors and create a moodboard using the designs you find appealing. You may also, vice versa, find examples of designs you don’t like. Both ways will help the designer to understand your taste and preferences.
As well, when looking through portfolios of potential candidates, pay attention if the style of their works matches the examples from your moodboard.
Check the portfolio
Besides the obvious fact that a portfolio gives you a general understanding of a designer’s style and experience they have, it can also tell you if a person has the right mindset to create a design for your SaaS product.
The showcases in the portfolio should prove the designer’s ability to solve complex design problems. Each case study should tell you the story: what was the problem and what helped the designer to identify it, what steps the designer took to develop a solution, how this design solution influenced the customer’s feedback/the company revenue, etc.
To give you a better understanding of what a good portfolio looks like, check out examples of popular product designers Simon Pan, Jonathan Patterson. As well, take a look at the way we organize our case studies at Eleken.
Have a “live” conversation
An efficient work process and a successful final result are impossible without mutual understanding between you and the designer. That’s why it’s super-important to make sure you feel comfortable communicating with your potential hire. The best way to understand if you can communicate easily is to ask for a video interview.
Tell the designer everything about the future application. Share your thoughts on the target audience, monetization strategy, and unique value proposition, show the moodboard with application designs you like, and so on. Share all this information and listen carefully to designer feedback to understand if you want to work with him/her.
Prepare a list of questions
As you talk with several different designers and agencies it will be difficult to keep everything you'll learn from them in your head. To make the process of selection easier, you can create a list of questions and make notes of the answers for each candidate.
Here are some questions you may include in your list:
- In your opinion, what is the role of a designer in building a SaaS product?
- Can you describe an app design process you use from the very beginning to the product launch?
- How do you perform the research and conduct testing to make sure we create something people really need?
- Based on one of the works from your portfolio, can you tell me what design problem you had and how did you solve it?
- Do you have experience working in a related field? (designing similar products)
- Can I contact your previous customers? (do you have some references of previous customers?)
Finally, compare potential hires according to a set of criteria (including experience, reviews, skills and tools, communication, etc.) to make your final choice.
What is the proper time to start looking for a designer?
As soon as you've done all the needed research to validate your business idea and come up with a clear concept of your cloud application (you know what your app is, how it should work and who is going to use it), it's time to search for a designer. Together you will discuss the app’s requirements and agree on design deliverables to develop a solution that will best suit your project.
“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.” Ed Catmull
Choosing a designer for your application is a challenging and responsible task. The quotation above once again reminds us about the importance of finding a designer who not just blindly follows your instructions, but works as your thought partner, helping you overcome complex challenges.
In case you still have some doubts and questions about designing your SaaS app don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation.