A Mobile-first Design Approach for SaaS



Two billion people access the Internet from their mobile devices. The number is predicted to jump by 72.5% by 2025. So, if you’re a SaaS company and not designing products for mobile, your users will abandon you for your competitors. Here’s everything you need to know about adopting a mobile-first design approach for SaaS.

Meaning and benefits of a mobile-first design

Mobile-first design refers to an approach advocating the start of product or web design from its mobile version. The design strategy stems from the concept of progressive advance, which means designers build the version for the mobile devices first. This version includes all the basic features and functions. After that, designers work towards the advanced version for tablets and PCs, adding interactions and complicated effects for an improved user experience.

The mobile-first design approach is also a potent SEO practice thanks to mobile-first indexing rolled out by Google. According to this, websites are evaluated and ranked depending on their mobile version first. This aims to offer users the same experience on desktop and mobile while acknowledging that most site users are surfing from their mobile phones.  

The benefits of the mobile-first design approach are:

I. A mobile-first approach to UX UI design is easier for responsive design and caters to all devices, screen resolutions, and screen sizes.

II. Designing for mobile decreases feature bloat because the mobile version includes only those features that are necessary; reducing overall cognitive load.

III. A less cluttered user interface and a smaller feature roadmap make designing, testing, and shipping the final product faster and easier.

Is the future of SaaS mobile app-driven?

With the mobile-first design approach gaining traction, it would be prudent to point out that the future of mobile SaaS is app-driven. A study suggests smartphone users are using nine applications per day and thirty applications a month, on average. That means mobile apps are intertwined in the daily life of the average user, and businesses failing to offer the same experience may end up losing a few of their loyal customers.

But, should every SaaS company launch an app?

Even though the future of mobile SaaS is app-driven, every SaaS company mustn’t jump to launch an app. Instead, the company’s decision to design an app must be based on the overall advantages that an application could bring to their business, especially compared to a responsive website.

Sure, mobile apps help companies boost engagement, gain visibility, facilitate interaction and improve conversions. But there are a lot of decisions to be made when businesses decide to change their approach from the web to mobile.

The shift is hassle-free and easy for a few SaaS companies, but others might find it an uphill task. Moreover, launching an app involves in-depth planning, user research, gathering feedback, etc. If you design an app on your gut feeling or because you want to follow the trend, you may end up failing like Hotjar.

UI UX best practices for a mobile-first design approach

1. Content-first approach to design

Mobile devices have limited real estate, and therefore, it is crucial to take a content-first design approach. It helps structure the design around the vital message and prevents unnecessary distractions and cluttering.

A simple, clutter-free design focused on the necessary content creates clarity for both users and bots.

2. Quick sign-up/sign-in

Users prefer surfing on their mobile devices because of convenience, accessibility, and quickness. However, when sites or apps ask users a lot of information, they abandon them without completing the registration form.

So, ensure to ask for as little information as possible. The best way to go is only to ask for their email address and password for a quick and seamless sign-up/sign-in process. You can also provide an option to sign in using their existing account in Google or other popular social networks.

3. Avoidance of disrupting pop-ups

When designing SaaS mobile websites, ensure it is free from distracting pop-ups. Irrelevant pop-ups are the number one reason why people block websites and uninstall apps.

Disrupting pop-ups can frustrate users and also distract them from the primary purpose of the site or app.

4. Design for thumb convenience

Mobile-first design is tricky because while users interact with desktop websites via clicks, they interact with the mobile version via swipes and taps. Also, there are physical differences between how users interact with mobile and desktop websites.

Desktops are typically kept on surfaces, but mobile devices are hand-held. These differences must be kept in mind by mobile UI UX designers. Mobile SaaS must include taps and other such UI elements that users use to interact with the site.

Moreover, dashboards, one of the most important screens is a SaaS app, should be designed to provide concise information even on the mobile screen; and, should be accessible through usual touch interactions.

5. Lazy load unimportant videos and pictures

Videos and pictures make up a large portion of the entire download size of a website, but it is not necessary for them to all load at once. The rendering of media can be delayed in two ways: render-blocking media must be made to download after the content and layout have been downloaded. Below-the-fold content must be made to load when users scroll below the fold. This practice of delayed loading is known as lazy loading. Lazy loading ensures delaying the loading of non-essential, heavy elements to enhance page performance.

6. Design focused on one-handed use

Unlike desktops, mobile devices are used with one hand. Mobile users don’t find this a difficult task, but there might be instances when one-handed use can get a bit tricky and frustrate users.

So, designers must create designs with accessible UX elements such as taps and swipes so that users don’t find it challenging to browse through mobile sites with only one hand. For example, tap targets must specifically target the lower-middle region of the screen. In addition, the site’s main navigation must be fixed at the bottom, so it is easily accessible without getting in the way.


The world of SaaS (both B2B and B2C) is constantly evolving, and companies have to move swiftly to stay relevant. Keeping up with the latest trends requires out-of-box thinking and adapting to the present times. That’s why prioritizing mobile apps, and mobile-first design is a necessity. If you decide the mobile-first approach is not for you, take a look around.

It is always uncertain to take the leap, but without experimenting, you won’t be able to cater to the changing needs of your users and their growing appetite for mobile.

It is already too late to debate whether you should go the mobile way because smartphone users are increasing day by day. The real question is whether you want to opt for responsive design or jump into the app bandwagon. The market is ripe, and your users are ready.

So, what are you still waiting for? Evolve your SaaS business with the changing times and prevent your users from going to your competitors. When you design SaaS for mobile, keep in mind the UI UX best practices mentioned above to drive the maximum traffic and offer a superior user experience.

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