How to Choose the Right Type of SaaS Software for Your Business

16 min
Nov 01, 2023

The software landscape has fundamentally shifted. Gone are the days of clunky desktop applications and on-premise servers. SaaS now dominates, offering always-on, highly scalable solutions accessible from any device.

Understanding the diversity of SaaS solutions available and the unique needs of users across products is imperative. This overview highlights key SaaS software categories relevant to UX/UI designers. It provides insights into the purpose of each tool, leading solutions, and, most importantly — best practices for intuitive, user-centered design.

What is SaaS software?

SaaS stands for software as a service. It is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted in the cloud and accessed by users over the internet.

With SaaS, the software vendor hosts, manages, maintains, and updates the application and underlying infrastructure. Users simply log in to the application via a web browser or mobile app.

Why is it important for UI/UX designers to understand the different types of SaaS software?

As a UI/UX designer, having a solid understanding of the different types of SaaS software is important for several reasons:

  • It allows designers to design intuitive, user-friendly interfaces tailored to the specific use cases and workflows of each software type. For example, the needs of a sales rep using a CRM will be very different from those of a finance manager using an ERP.
  • Understanding the goals and challenges of different roles interacting with the software (e.g., sales reps, HR managers, and executives) will inform design decisions. This way, designers can optimize interfaces to help each user role succeed.
  • Knowledge of SaaS industry standards and emerging UI patterns allows UX/UI designers to incorporate the latest trends and best practices.
  • Considering the full end-to-end user experience across devices used with a SaaS app guides choices on layout, navigation, and responsive design. Developers need to account for smaller screens and touch interactions.
  • It enables designers to collaborate more effectively with stakeholders by speaking their language and focusing on value-added design solutions. Designers can have informed conversations about meeting user and business needs.

A brief overview of 6 types of SaaS solutions

There are a wide variety of SaaS products to meet nearly every business need. Here is a high-level overview of the types of SaaS applications.

1. Customer relationship management (CRM) software

What is CRM?

Managing customer relationships is crucial for business growth. CRM software helps companies achieve this by streamlining communication, organization, and analytics. A robust CRM centralizes all interactions with customers across departments on one platform.

CRM software examples

  • Salesforce — the #1 CRM platform, offering robust sales, marketing, and customer service capabilities for companies of all sizes
  • HubSpot — an inbound marketing and sales platform with powerful CRM features for attracting and engaging customers
  • Zoho CRM — an affordable and user-friendly CRM system suitable for small to mid-sized businesses
  • Pipedrive — a sales-focused CRM tailored for sales teams to manage deals and pipelines
  • Freshworks — a modern, intuitive CRM platform with strong customer support tools

UI/UX best practices for CRM software

  • Make it easy for users to find what they need in the CRM with well-labeled tabs, menus, and search functions
  • Optimize for mobile and ensure CRM data is accessible from any device
  • Streamline processes within the CRM to fit user needs rather than forcing rigid workflows
  • Use rules and triggers to automate repetitive CRM tasks to save users time
  • Connect the CRM to other business apps for a seamless flow of customer data
  • Provide adequate training and support resources to drive CRM user adoption

2. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software

What is ERP?

ERP is one of the categories of SaaS software, which is a modular software system that manages and integrates key business functions such as accounting, HR, supply chain, manufacturing, sales, and more. By consolidating these functions onto a unified platform, ERP software provides enterprises with enhanced visibility, efficiency, and data accuracy across operations.

ERP software examples

  • SAP — the market-leading ERP platform offering end-to-end capabilities for global enterprises
  • Oracle — a flexible, scalable ERP system well-suited for large, complex organizations
  • Microsoft Dynamics — an adaptable ERP solution that integrates with other Microsoft products
  • Infor — a modern, industry-specific ERP tailored for niche manufacturing and distribution verticals
  • Workday — a cloud-based ERP with strengths in financial management and human capital management

UI/UX guidelines for ERP software

  • Tailor ERP screens and dashboards to specific roles and their data needs
  • Intuitive navigation. Use sitemaps, search, and clear menus to help users easily find what they need
  • Ensure ERP is accessible and usable across desktop and mobile devices
  • Allow users to customize ERP with their preferred views, filters, and settings
  • Integrate actionable insights directly into ERP screens to enable data-driven decisions
  • Provide training and support to smooth the transition and drive proficiency

ERP software

3. Content management systems (CMS) and e-commerce

What is a CMS?

A CMS is a solution among types of software as a service, which allows you to create, edit, manage, and publish content on a website without needing to know any code. It acts as the backend framework that delivers the content to the front-end user interface.

CMS examples

  • WordPress — the most widely used CMS, powering over 30% of all websites
  • Joomla — another open-source CMS with a powerful global community supporting it
  • Drupal — an open-source CMS popular with developers and IT teams
  • Shopify — a user-friendly e-commerce-focused CMS that simplifies setting up an online store
  • Wix — a drag-and-drop website builder that makes it easy for anyone to create a site

UI/UX recommendations for CMS

  • Choose easy-to-read fonts and create clear navigation menus
  • Avoid visual clutter
  • Ensure your pages are mobile responsive for proper viewing on any device
  • Use high-quality images and videos to visually engage visitors
  • Make use of white space and clean layouts to guide the user’s eye on the page
  • Test your site across different browsers and devices, fixing any issues that arise
  • Analyze site analytics data to identify and improve poor-performing pages

4. Project management software

What is project management software?

Among other types of SaaS products, there is project management software, which provides a centralized platform to plan and execute projects of all sizes and complexity. At its core, this solution allows managers to visually map out project tasks, set schedules and deadlines, assign responsibilities, and track progress.

Examples of project management software

  • Asana — web and mobile task management software with timeline and workload views
  • Trello — intuitive Kanban-style boards to visualize and manage projects.
  • — a visually customizable project management solution with real-time updates on team progress
  • Basecamp — leading web-based software with message boards, schedules, docs, and file storage
  • Wrike — a full-featured solution with Gantt charts, portfolio views, and custom workflows
  • Jira — powerful software tailored to agile software development teams

UI/UX best practices for project management software

  • Maintain a clear and consistent visual hierarchy on project boards
  • Use color coding to quickly distinguish task types, status, and priority levels
  • Ensure interfaces work across desktop and mobile to enable on-the-go access
  • Allow for different views of data (list, board, timeline, etc.) based on user needs
  • Include dashboards tailored to team members’ roles and permissions
  • Automate notifications and updates for key stakeholders
  • Integrate with tools teams already use, like email, documents, calendars, and chat apps
  • Provide search and filtering to quickly find tasks and information

project management software

5. Human capital management (HCM) software

What is HCM software?

Human capital management (HCM) software has become a mission-critical application for HR teams and entire organizations. HCM software consolidates many key HR functions into one unified platform, including payroll, benefits, performance management, and more. The goal of HCM software is to provide organizations with a single HR system to optimize and automate people management processes.

HCM software examples

  • Oracle HCM Cloud — a robust solution from database leader Oracle. Tight integration across Oracle apps
  • SAP SuccessFactors — a part of SAP’s cloud offerings
  • UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) — a leading mid-market solution with a global customer base
  • Ceridian — a cloud solution with a strong focus on payroll and workforce management

UI/UX best practices for HCM software

  • Provide self-service portal with intuitive navigation and dashboards
  • Maintain consistency across interfaces for different users and roles
  • Ensure workflow simplicity – avoid complex approval chains or processes
  • Design for ease of use on desktop and mobile
  • Automate notifications, reminders, and status updates
  • Offer robust reporting capabilities with filtering and customization
  • Enable easy data integration with other business systems
  • Follow modern UX trends around visual design and micro-interactions

6. Business intelligence (BI) software

What is BI software?

Business intelligence (BI) is one of the types of SaaS software. It allows organizations to collect, analyze, and derive actionable insights from their business data. It transforms raw data into digestible visualizations and reports to inform better strategic decisions.

BI software examples

  • Tableau — powerful interactive data visualization software
  • Power BI — Microsoft’s cloud-based BI solution
  • Qlik — an associative BI model that allows for exploring cause-and-effect questions
  • Sisense — a scalable solution with a single integrated framework for BI
  • Looker — a web-based platform with reusable data models and dashboards

UI/UX guidelines for BI software

  • Enable users to easily construct custom dashboards with drag-and-drop simplicity
  • Allow customers to search for answers and insights using plain language questions like “What were my top-selling products last March?”
  • Follow established UX heuristics around visual hierarchy, clear navigation, feedback cues, and concepts like progressive disclosure
  • Provide insights into how various data dimensions and metrics relate, making it easy to construct queries
  • Enable users to quickly filter, sort, drill down, and select data points without changing views empowers exploration
  • Expand beyond basic charts and graphs to more engaging options like tree maps, gauges, bullet graphs, and animated progress bars improve storytelling

BI software


While the capabilities of software as a service are impressive, the user experience ultimately determines its success. An intuitive, user-friendly interface is crucial for driving adoption and ROI. UI/UX designers must apply specialized expertise to tailor designs to each software type.

Our experienced UI/UX design agency is here to partner with you to create an engaging user experience for your SaaS product. With research-based design refined through rapid iteration and user testing, we can help you bring ideas to life with a polished interface.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop


What are the key benefits of SaaS software for businesses?

SaaS solutions offer numerous advantages for today’s companies. By hosting software in the cloud instead of on-premise servers, SaaS provides businesses with accessibility, flexibility, collaboration features, and cost savings. Users can log in from any device with an internet connection, allowing for productive remote work. Software updates automatically occur without the need for manual IT intervention.

What role do UI/UX designers play in SaaS products?

User experience and user interface designers are indispensable in shaping intuitive, user-friendly SaaS products. Through conducting user research, UI/UX designers gain insights into end users’ needs, pain points, and workflow priorities. These discoveries inform the information architecture and user flows that logically guide users through the software.

What steps can you take to set your SaaS project up for UX success?

Getting your SaaS solution off to the right start requires laying the groundwork for UX excellence. Begin by aligning executives and stakeholders on priorities and goals for the product to guide development. Assemble any existing research on target users’ needs as a foundation. Develop clear requirements for the solution while retaining the flexibility to adapt as designs progress. Involve roles across technology, marketing, product, and design in the process.

What should you look for when selecting a design agency for your SaaS product?

Developing an exceptional user experience requires finding the right design partner. When evaluating agencies, first consider their expertise in SaaS specifically. Look for proven experience designing interfaces for web and mobile apps. Examine their design process to ensure user research is a priority to drive product decisions. The ideal agency will balance strategic thinking with hands-on design skills informed by real user perspectives.

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