Trip sharing with Google Maps
Get there together
I completed this project for a Digital Product Design class as a student at Pratt Institute. We were asked to design an app or product feature of our choosing.
I chose to design a solution that makes it easier for groups of people to meet up with each other. This took shape as a trip sharing feature for Google Maps.
I conducted research in two phases using both quantitative and qualitative methods:
Survey: I created a survey in Google forms and distributed it to potential users, 17 of whom completed it.
Interviews: I conducted in depth interviews with 7 of the 17 survey respondents.
Research takeaway #1: Users multitask communication and navigation
According to the survey data, most users rely on both a navigation app (predominantly Google Maps) and text messaging to help them meet up with others.
Interviewees said that texting isn't ideal, but it's easier than other alternatives. Most either found Google Maps' map sharing feature confusing to use or didn't know it existed.
Use a navigation app most of the time when meeting up with others
Use Google Maps. On average they rate their satisfaction 3.5/4
Almost always resort to text message to share their ETA
Research takeaway #2: Everyone expects good communication from others, but most fail to meet their own expectations
Every single respondent said they want to know the status of those they’re meeting up with, but less than a quarter said they provide accurate status updates themself, creating a striking disparity.
Interviewees said trying to communicate their status to people they're meeting up with while en route is often distracting and stressful.
Want to know the status of others
Provide accurate status updates
Reframing the problem
I started my research with the assumption that users need help making sure everyone gets to the right place on time. However the research revealed that this way of framing the problem was flawed - it ignored that people are often late for unavoidable reasons. This realization helped me develop a more actionable problem statement:
Sometimes lateness is unavoidable, and providing updates isn't always easy but it's still expected of us.
Defining the users
The problem I identified affects even the most punctual among us, so I decided to define personas situationally, as scenarios many users have found themselves in at one point or another. I felt traditional personas would pose unnecessary constraints on solving a problem that doesn’t discriminate.
Stuck at work
Caught in traffic
Missed the train
Already arrived, wondering where everyone is
A Google Maps feature that allows multiple users to see each other's real time trip progress will help them focus more on getting where they need to go and less on sending updates.
Finding the right balance
I started brainstorming with sketches, but early on I struggled to strike the right balance between providing users with just the right amount of information and displaying it in a way that was informative at a glance, without being distracting.
Distracting presentation with non essential info
Only key info but hard to read at glance
After taking a step back and sorting information into essential and non essential categories, I realized that users often want to understand their ETA or time to a destination in relation to the status of others.
The cognitive effort to do this could be reduced by visually representing relative progress in terms of time.
Essential information with visual balance
DESIGN & PROTOTYPE
Designing a familiar flow
The users I interviewed described Google Maps' existing core flow as highly intuitive, so I decided to use it as a model for the flow of the trip sharing feature. I hoped that prioritizing familiarity would reduce friction for users, most of whom don't have the time or patience to learn new behaviors when they’re on the go.
After mapping all of the possible paths for a trip creator and invitee, I translated them into mid fidelity wire flows.
The trips tab: Where the feature fits in
Based on my research I knew that the feature needed to be highly visible and easily accessible. To achieve this, I added a "Trips" tab to the bottom navigation menu, where users can access past and upcoming trips, or create a new trip.
Visual design: Speaking the Material Design language
I relied on Google’s material design system, repurposing components from its existing library where possible.
The trip progress bar presented an opportunity to innovate using material design principles as guidelines. My goal was to introduce new functionality that looks and feels familiar.
Interaction design & prototyping: Motion as a metaphor
I designed the trip progress indicator using motion as a visual metaphor for a user’s real-time progress along their route and their progress relative to others. To minimize potential distraction, I Incorporated interactions that allow users to reveal more information as needed.
I used Principle to animate the trip progress screen before importing it as a GIF to Invision, for easier sharing of the prototype.
Usability testing: Reinforcing confidence around privacy
Usability testing revealed some uncertainty among users about when their trip status was being shared and whether their location was also being shared.
To address users anxiety about privacy, I introduced clearer calls to action to distinguish between joining a trip and starting the navigation. I also added a modal screen to confirm on the user's ETA will be shared.
Join a trip versus start navigation for trip
Confirmation only user's ETA will be shared
The final design: Focussing on controllable factors
The final design simplifies meeting up by focusing on solutions for problems that arise controllable factors, for instance automating real-time ETA updates and creating greater transparency without encroaching on users privacy.
Many users rely on Google Maps' when meeting up with others, which made it an ideal platform for a trip sharing feature for groups.