The four stages of SaaS Startups UX and Design
Design · UX · Startups · SaaS
October 3, 2021
10min read
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We want to make design great. How to start?

Good design is something that was introduced a couple years ago as a differentiator for your startup’s product from the others. Today, it has become a standard, a place to start from. With the current era of Covid 19 or Post covid 19 and how things are today digital experiences are more important than ever before. Not only that entrepreneurs are well informed with that, investors and VC’s are leaning more into teams that are building their products basing them on good design foundations, as it is already known that only the products that can be blended and fit into people’s daily lives can succeed and thrive, gain more users and profits - while eventually becoming a profitable organisation with high and growing market value.

The SaaS Pov

While having good design foundations and a design based approach to creating products is known to be more B2C oriented, today products that are more business related thrive on these same values as well. SaaS products show a tremendous growth and attract investor attention in many large and new industries as real estate, construction, insurance, transportation & banking, manufacturing, and more. Wether your product is aiming for ‘Consumers’ Or ‘Businesses’ at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, a person is going to use it and it better to have not less than a great experience for humans.

Let’s explore the different stages of startups on their way to become a mature brand & company with a developed, a ‘baked’ product design, ready for scale.

Stage 1 - The Idea or Poc

The initial stage of any viable idea is the Poc or alpha version. It usually consists of the very basic things that can be built, in order to be able to start seeing the vision or better put manifestation of the idea or concepts entrepreneurs own for what they think they would like to propose as value to their users. This stage mostly isn’t ‘great’ in terms of design and UI, but for the more successful and viable ideas out there it does show that users can start interacting, and getting something out of it, with the lack of it being perfectly laid out or designed.

Semi Automatic

Some engagements with users are taking place over e-mails and phone calls, utilising sales/cx representatives or the entrepreneurs themselves until the product is in the mature enough to be able to onboard and gaining users in a self service manner.

The idea stage helps with
  • Product concept and direction
  • Identifying a market need
  • Initial Prototype
  • Putting the systems in the works
  • Get initial users feedback (friends, colleagues and testers)

Stage 2 - MVP

The the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is a very important and crucial phase for any product. While the POC stage helps creating the product concept and direction, the MVP Stage is more about definition. It’s important to understand the difference in each phase. Here we’re aiming to have a much better defined product and thought out core features, that can help us asses the product viability - does it has a market or not. What set of features we need to satisfy early adopters, and what should we be focusing on for that. When designing an MVP done right it serves as a lens for founders to understand what their focus should be on the next phases when we’re getting ready for scale.

The MVP stage helps with
  • Creating focus - what core features should we be working around
  • Provide initial self-service use of the product
  • Get real users feedback and comments
  • Start seeing initial traction that will put us in a better position for funding

Stage 3 - Mature Product Design

After spending a while on the MVP stage, where we work our way utilising the lean startup methodology to progress our product we’ll aim to get to a formation phase where we take all the learnings we had up until now (could be a one year or two we’re developing from MVP to the mature product), to create a rather new or better put renewed experience that, in this stage aims to squeeze the juice out of the lemon and find what our most valuable and delightful offerings.

The Mature Product Design stage helps with
  • Creating experiences that users love, making your product cool for people to use
  • User retention
  • Making your product iconically designed - the experience should be memorable both and the brand and product sides
  • Get users become advocates and root for your product

Stage 4 - Ready For Scale

We arrived to the glorious of stages which essentially it is just doubling down on all the progress and achievements we gained in the earlier steps on our journey. When done right in this phase we already have a large amount of user base interacting with our product on a daily basis, getting value out of it for themselves and the companies they work for. When we have that connection with users we are able to start thinking on introducing new markets that wasn’t on our radar on the early stages but we can now tap into them. We created our product based on design systems and good architecture that we laid out so we’re very flexible on creating new experiences thet broaden our service and the value we offer while still being loyal to our cores.

To sum it all up, it goes by Value Addition, Growth, Creating systems and Embracing / Introducing new target markets.

The Ready For Scale stage helps with
  • Perfecting our design and branding in a way that can be inclusive while also enable us to connect to larger audiences
  • Making our product a legacy in our field
  • Keep upgrading our offerings
  • International Branding


Working and evolving your startup product and product design is an on-going thing. These for stages are an illustration of how a progression in your product design might look, but for sure it can vary and some stages can be a little prolonged or a little different from what is described here. Take this as a tool to help you create guidelines, not necessarily specific directions. It is important to recognise what stage you and your team are in currently and squeeze each stage opportunities in a way that will bring you in a better position for the next step, to help you and the market see a renewed, better and matured version of your product.