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Design, Content and User Experience at Square

Elegant design is at the forefront of Square products. Now, we’re taking another look at how our designs interact with the content inside.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of design? Wireframes? White space?

Words?

Our modern-day user experience focuses heavily on visual design. When everything from finance and healthcare to romance and education is conducted in digital spaces, design is key.

At Square, design is not something we settle for. We are constantly creating and adapting over time. Growing, evolving and iterating on what is and what could be.

Communicating difficult things sometimes can only be done with words.

Yet too many times we’ve settled on the copy that lives inside the design. We can spend months selecting the perfect font or precise placement, but the content itself – one of the most critical elements of the entire design – languishes as an afterthought.

Copy and visual design

With very few exceptions, almost every working professional can write. This makes the jobs that writers do particularly difficult. Everyone’s a critic, and perhaps rightfully so.

At Square we have many different types of writers highlighting particular skill sets from marketing and technical writing to CX and UX writing.

Product writers in particular are intimately acquainted with the purpose of how and why we design the things we do. We aim to understand and help our users navigate Square. To do this, we focus on three main writing principles: Being clear, consistent and careful.

By focusing on the user experience in both the design and the copy, we’re able to empathize and connect with our customers, even when what they’re going through isn’t easy.

The copy is often the most human part of the entire interaction with your product.

But beyond that, there are enormous benefits to carefully designing the language around our brand and product in a way that supports our customers:
– Clear directions
– Fewer user errors
– Fewer lost customers
– Highlighting good design

Folding in product writing under the umbrella of product design at Square is one way to make sure that we’re thinking about the content as part of the design. It’s a way to ensure our customers are getting the best possible user experience. Most importantly, it’s a way to save money, reduce frustration and make handling the messy side of business easier for sellers.

Fintech and frustration

Whether by accident or by design, the language surrounding some of the most important domains of our lives is still riddled with inaccessible jargon. Law, medicine, finance – things that can alter the course of our lives forever – remain almost incomprehensible to many people.

But Square was born to disrupt a complex, fossilized system. A system that turned the simple act of accepting a credit card into an overwhelming bureaucratic challenge.

The language surrounding some of the most important domains of our lives are still riddled with inaccessible jargon.

While updating design, policy and regulation is vital, the type of language we use around our products and industry can be the final push to pull the curtain back at last and democratise the world of finance.

Chasing perfection

Fintech isn’t always a full business bank account bolstered by a roaring economy. Things happen. And sometimes we have to communicate some unhappy information with customers we care about.

Designers and writers in departments like Fraud and Risk have to contend with the fact that our customers are often undergoing something that has left them frustrated or angry.

So while Square is not (yet) perfect, we’re always working toward being better. There’s always room to improve how we prepare sellers before something happens, and how we communicate with them after it does.

This will continue to mean growing and evolving our writing discipline at Square. It will also mean constantly evaluating how content and design interact. Despite being around for a while, we are still learning what works and what doesn’t. But there is one thing we do know – our customers are happier when design and content work together.