Helping Square merchants manage and reach their goals with relevant app recommendations.


User Researcher
Interaction Designer
Visual Designer


August 2019 -
December 2019


Adobe XD
Adobe Illustrator


Tiffany Chau
TJ Funso
Joshua Galang
Ngoc Tran

Square empowers over two million merchants around the world by helping them run their own small business. Using a suite of ecommerce tools and smart solutions, Square creates products used for selling goods and services, from brick and mortar locations to online shopping experiences. While Square remains strong in physical stores, Square products are not built with the concept of extending across multiple channels.



How can we help Square small businesses seamlessly integrate and manage their brand across different touchpoints and sell to more customers?


Square Route is an extension of the Square dashboard that provides merchants with personalized recommendations of Square-integrated apps. These apps can help manage merchant businesses and achieve business goals based on income, employee count, business type, and personal goals that can be set. With reclaimed time and focus, merchants can focus on their store and running their business with ease.



Online Research
Online Survey
Contextual Inquiries


Concept Testing


Heuristic Evaluation
User Testing
Participatory Design




In order to obtain information about our topic, we collected information using the following research techniques:


We looked up how Square's POS (Point of Sales) system functions and existing help methods on the Internet.

We created our own Square accounts and discovered the Square Seller Community, an online help forum where users can reach out to each other and Square employees for help.

We learned that a majority of Square merchants run food and beverage businesses. Square products have a high learning curve and are tricky to learn.


My team developed a Qualtrics survey to understand the goals and attitudes of Square merchants and collect contact information for future research.

Using the Square seller community to find merchants, we collected 25 responses.

A majority of merchants use the Square Dashboard. Business owners find running their business 'fun and enjoyable' but also very 'exhausting'.


We wanted to observe Square merchants in the field using Square products and identify the structure of work across different businesses.

Recruiting 5 dining venues, we shadowed participants in person as they performed key tasks and inquired clarifying questions.

From this, we learned that sellers want to customize their businesses but don't have the resources or bandwidth to learn, often resorting to using familiar tools and third party software.


Taking these insights into account, my team created an Affinity Map to group ideas together.


1. Sellers use many different tools to manage the different aspects of their business. Tools do not belong to the same suite so sellers switch context. This takes up both time and mental resources by entering a different environment.​

2. Sellers would like to customize their set of tools based on business needs. Food and beverage businesses vary, and each venue has their own unique needs and wants to manage their work.​

3. Sellers want to focus on serving their food and customer experience. Therefore, the might not have time to work on growing their business or focusing on other goals.

From our synthesis, we updated the problem statement.


How might we consolidate sellers' extending tools so that they can save time managing their business while focusing on reaching customers at touchpoints?


After brainstorming ideas, we shared our some primary findings and received feedback:


This Square extension features the customization of food and beverage businesses based on the different types of dining venue: food trucks, catering services, a dine in restaurant, and custom.

Each dining venue has a set of tools that helps Square merchants manage and schedule events, observe income and locations.


An integrated social media tool that lets merchants post to various social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.​

This tool also gives insights based on the social media's metrics, such as likes, views, and more.


An addition to the standard Square dashboard that uses machine learning and business data to recommend a personalized set of integrated Square apps.

Recommendations are based on apps used by similar businesses. Square merchants can set their own goals and are recommended tools they can use to achieve them.


The most viable solution form factor was in a mobile app. I designed the following features:


On the Square Dashboard, the top banner is now used to promote and encourage Square merchants to use this new app recommendation tool. ​

The banner entices users with promises of setting and achieving business goals and directly links to the Square Route homepage.​

Our feedback showed that this banner should only pop up occasionally, as participants approximated they would use the recommendation tool biannually.


Merchants can confirm their business's statistics and were automatically recommended suggested integrated Square apps, including setting up their business goals with their account data. ​

From our user feedback, recommendations needed to be more personal. To address this, recommendations would then be based on personal input profile and set business goals.


Information about the apps recommended would be displayed, such as rating, price, screenshots, and a brief description of features. Only one suggestion could be focused on at a time.​

Feedback suggested that apps could take up less space in order to allow for better comparison, such as lower prices or higher ratings for different types of businesses.


Once the app is downloaded, an icon appears on the side.​

User testing with restaurants expressed the need for an authority figure to install apps - so that not all employees are able to download them.​

Participants found it difficult to see where the integrated app appeared, which warranted the addition of a notification bubble to match users' expectations of notification signifiers.


Having created our basic prototype, we sought to evaluate it with professional users. Reaching out experts of usability and mobile app design at Georgia Tech, we conducted heuristic evaluations sessions.


Determine if the interface works with usability heuristics​ and understand the severity of each heuristic mistake based on the issue.


We showed a paper prototype to experts in usability and mobile apps and instructed them to perform 4 benchmark tasks:

​1. Access Square Route on the Dashboard

2. Update the Business Profile - employee number

3. Review Recommended Apps

4. Install MailChimp

Afterwards, experts assign ratings according to Nielsen's 10 Usability Heuristics and complete a System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire.​

Our feedback was then added to the final iteration.


After consulting with the team from our heuristic evaluation with experts, we corroborated the scores from our usability testing and comments. Our researchers then distilled the data into insights that led to my redesign of the final evolution of our project.

Some revisions included a more unified Square design with icons, buttons, and text to clarify tasks, utilizing user input and setting business goals, as well as authorizing and managing downloads of Square integrated apps.


The Square Dashboard needed more detail for users to determine what it was used for. From our research, users did not understand its purpose with a brief description.

To address this, I added a Learn More button that lead to a more thorough explanation of Square Route.


For a more personal experience, we added several categories for business owners to address.

The categories we used included Payment Platforms, where Square merchants can input the type of business that they run, from an online store to a brick or mortar location, Number of Employees, Annual Revenue, and inputting their Top Business Goals.

They then hit the Get App Recommendations button to receive their list of apps catered to their business.


From our testing, we improved the recommendation results. From our testing, users were unclear why they received said recommendations, so the final design included reasoning as to why apps were recommended.


From Square Route, I learned to apply research methods and user input to design for users. This experience was an empowering process for Square merchants, as we were able to not only conduct research through surveys, but also bring merchants in to Square Atlanta for feedback sessions and participatory design. It was incredible seeing how merchants reacted to discovering new ways to achieve their business goals.

​In conclusion, this project was an incredible experience to work on, and I would like to thank Square for working with us in the Georgia Tech MS-HCI program.