UX Case study
Google Maps is a web mapping platform and consumer application offered by Google. It offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets, real-time traffic conditions, and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bike, air, and public transportation (Wikipedia)
Duration: September 2022
Role: UX Designer
Responsibilities: User research, Sketching, Wireframing, Mockups.
Google Maps is currently used by over 1 billion people worldwide and is available to more than 100 million Nigerians. Over the last 17 years, it has significantly aided customers in finding directions while continually enhancing both its accuracy and user experience. I embarked on this project to design a solution to the inaccuracy in the Google Map experience. I call it the “Service Lane error”.
The application is able to recognize a sudden change in course, such as a person making a right turn. On a broad route like the freeway, it is ineffective at lane changes. Therefore, sometimes, it is unable to determine when the user enters or exits the service lane on the highway. If the map wrongly thinks the user is on the highway, it will show the incorrect path in the case when the user is intended to make a right turn on a service lane. While this is most likely a satellite inefficiency, design can help the user contribute to the accuracy.
I did my research by interviewing five people who frequently use Google Maps and drive about the city. Included in this group were Uber drivers, corporate marketers, and local newcomers. Prior to performing the study, I made the premise that many users of the map were encountering this issue. However, I was unsure of the magnitude of the damages at issue. I discovered the following:
A screenshot by one of the participants on Ikorodu-Ososun Road, Lagos, Nigeria who was on the service lane and was supposed to make the next right turn. The map indicates to continue straight based on the wrongful detection that he was on the freeway.
I explored several design solutions that may improve the experience. In a Crazy Eight session, I drew various modals, such as drop-down menus and center overlays, that might question the user if they were in the service lane. Adding a specified icon to the right side icons seemed to be the solution that would be least distracting to the user and less likely to result in a tap mistake.
In the selected sketch, a designated button for service lanes appears only when the user is near such roads. This button will be among the right-side buttons and a timed tip pop-up informs the user that they can press it if they are on the service lane. While doing the wireframes, I realized that the location of the S button, and consequently the tip pop-up may be distracting to the user. So I redesigned it to stay on top of the Search button.
HIGH FIDELITY DESIGNS
After several iterations, I started to design the hi-fi screen. The S button will appear filled when the user presses it or when the map detects that they are on the service lane.
TAKEAWAYS AND NEXT STEPS
Given that more than a billion people rely on Google Maps and that tourism is growing rapidly, accuracy is crucial. I’m delighted I started this project since it has expanded my understanding of how users and products interact. The next stage would be to test the design on actual users to determine if it matches their expectations and where the experience may be enhanced.