Square Product Design

Helping Square design tools for sellers to manage risk and stay on top of their business.

Running a business can be scary. There are many things business owners have to think about, from people to products to customers; it's easy to forget about all the risks involved in the process. 

Square has been providing businesses with their point of sale solution since 2009. They have built an entire business toolkit of hardware and software products that allow business owners (sellers) to accept and track transactions. To help protect sellers and themselves from credit risk, Square has recently partnered with Underbelly to redesign its risk tools.

Improving the Contracts Experience for Business Owners and Their Customers

When a seller's business is dependent on large, infrequent payments (e.g., contractors, artists, etc.), a chargeback can make a pretty big dent in their revenue. Square's Contracts product started as a set of google docs that account managers could recommend to their sellers to download, edit, and then attach to individual sales. After being released in 2020, there was a significant uptick in disputes won when the seller had a contract associated with them. The Contract product resulted in many feature requests to make the product more flexible.

One of the features our team tackled was the general sending and receiving of contracts. Contracts were primarily distributed through email by the sellers. Our research indicated that the customers believed the received contracts were from Square and not the seller (business).  Customers assumed they needed a Square account to sign in and agree to the terms. We redesigned the emails to feel more branded from the seller's business and pulled in important information from the contract so customers could see when their signature was due, how much money it would cost, etc. We also took out two-factor authentication and built a module that allowed sellers to send their contracts via SMS, PDF, and URL. These adjustments resulted in higher open and sign rates across the product.

Improving Business Owners Understanding of Reserves

Reserves help sellers avoid a negative balance from unexpected chargebacks. By keeping a portion of sales safe in a reserves balance, sellers can ensure that they will always have enough money to cover any sudden expenses.

After talking with sellers with a reserve, Square found that the current dashboard is hard to find and doesn't show the data sellers need to stay on top of their expenses. We used this information to inform our design decisions and created a communication-oriented experience that explains all nuances of a seller's reserve.

Tiered Reserves expand upon Reserves by allowing sellers to take payments up to a threshold before a Reserve is applied. Tiered Reserves are a series of tiers related to a seller's processing that determines a hold rate. It's a complex process involving many different numbers and time schedules. To ensure that the information is easily understood, we focused on making it glanceable and surfacing the most relevant processing information. Surfacing this information allows business owners to quickly see what would happen to their finances if they were to make a sale at that moment. To fill in the bigger picture, we added supporting data to give the seller a clear and transparent view of their reserve.

Providing Clarity

Throughout the project, we were able to add clarity for sellers wanting to protect themselves from the risks involved for small businesses. Our design and development teams designed features that increased the number of contracts sent and signed. For reserves, we utilized hierarchy and emphasized making information glanceable to allow sellers to get in and out, finding the data they need quickly. It was important to us to make sure sellers with a reserve understood all aspects of the tool, so we worked with the content team to craft emails and informational cards that the seller could reference at any point.

Working with Square, we were able to help unblock their risk teams while advocating for sellers in a complex problem area. We are excited to see what Square accomplishes as they continue on their mission to help sellers fight credit risk.

I'm really pleased with the quality of work and thought put into the project by each of the designers. They asked a ton of really smart and relevant questions about the project.
Bryan Rees
Product Design Manager


Zach Thesier
Product Designer
Square Risk Design Team
Internal Team
Michael Watterson
Product Designer

Let's talk

about your big idea.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.